(We wonder if voters may have based their decisions in part on the door count—Groove and Trax were both five-doors—and the name. Or maybe they just liked the green paint.) Chevy has continually promised the car for the U.S., with the initial plan being to put it in dealerships by 2011. Then some bankruptcy happened, the car looked like it might not make it here, and U.S. sales were ultimately reconfirmed. The Spark has now been re-reconfirmed, with its on-sale date moved to the first quarter of next year. It will have the distinction of being the smallest Chevy ever sold in the U.S. Forgive us if we’re not terribly excited about this sub-Sonic entry. We drove one in Europe shortly after its debut there, and while this Korean-designed and -engineered hatch has a competent chassis, even the larger of the two gas engines wasn’t powerful enough to find its limits. That larger engine is the one we’ll get: a 1.2-liter four-cylinder making 83 hp and paired to a standard five-speed manual or optional automatic transmission. That’s more power than a Smart Fortwo and—well, just the Smart. The Spark made our list of 10 cars the world can keep for a reason.
Spark EV. Get It?
Since cars this size make the most sense for urban dwellers—they’re the ones with the shortest commutes and the tightest parking spots—Chevrolet will use the Spark as the basis for its first modern all-electric U.S. offering. Such vehicles are becoming surprisingly abundant in this minicar segment; Smart already has the ED, Mini had its experiment with the Mini E, and Fiat and Scion are planning EVs of their own. As with the Smart and Mini, rollout will be limited to a handful of locations around the globe, with California being mentioned for the U.S. The Spark EV also will give GM an answer to the Nissan Leaf, a vehicle whose advertising centers around bashing the Volt for its range-extending gas engine. Nissan’s offering is larger, of course, and was designed from the start as an EV; we’re told the Spark wasn’t initially intended to carry batteries, which likely means a cargo penalty.