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First Coast Gears: Chevrolet Adds Some 'Spark' To Its Portfolio

4:50 PM, Apr 20, 2012   |    comments
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Those of us of a certain age can remember when cheap, compact cars meant a lot of compromise.

Most were lacking air conditioning, power windows, power steering, FM radio (if they had a radio at all) and they just felt cheap. Early Chevrolet Chevettes (1976-1987) were just one example.

What was at the time GM's smallest domestic could be ordered so stripped down that it could come without a rear seat. Fast forward to 2012. The Chevette may be in the history books but Chevrolet is still doing battle in the low-end market.

Its newest weapon: the 2013 Spark. Like the Chevette, the base Spark is small and inexpensive. But forget about the word "stripped." Even the base four-door hatchback includes 10 air bags, electronic stability control, traction control, outside temperature display, OnStar and other things we now take for granted such as air conditioning and power windows.

The Spark L starts at $12,995. "With the Spark, Chevrolet has the opportunity to connect with a new generation of car buyers who expect more from every product they purchase," said Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet Global Marketing. "So we wanted to make the process of choosing a Spark as simple as possible by reducing the number of stand-alone options and providing more standard content to each trim level at a competitive price."

The littlest Chevy lives up to its name with a spark of styling flair inside and out. Bold colors such as Techno Pink, Jalapeño (green) and Lemonade (yellow) set the stage. Like its sister cars, the Volt and Camaro, exterior colors can be tied together with color coordinated interior panels.

Although I mentioned the Chevette, they are nothing alike in terms of size or technology. The Spark is much smaller, more in the league of a Fiat 500 or Mini Cooper.

The "loaded" model, which ups the price to $15,795, includes things like alloy wheels, a touch screen infotainment system with Bluetooth, navigation and Internet radio apps Pandora and Stitcher. The Spark is powered by a 1.2-liter Ecotec four-cylinder with a five-speed manual.

A four-speed automatic adds another $925 to the price. EPA mileage figures haven't been released but GM expects it to top the Fiat 500's 30 city/38 highway mpg rating.

When first announced in 2011, Chevrolet also said an electric version of the Spark would be produced, although there have been no recent updates on when we might see it or what the pricing would be.

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