With its Spark model, Chevrolet is exploring new ground for the century-old company. The Spark is the smallest car in its lineup, and is being marketed for the urban jungle. With a combined economy of 34 mpg, it is also Chevy's second most fuel-efficient car, behind the Volt.
And two years ago, I drove one through the Swiss Alps. Although the car is just being released in this country, Chevy has sold this generation of the Spark in Europe for a few years. The European version of the car I drove came with a 1.2-liter engine that made about 80 horsepower, which was enough to make it through Swiss mountain valleys and, slowly, up the hills.
The U.S. version gets a 1.25-liter engine good for 84 horsepower, a boost that does not seem likely to make a big difference, especially if the car is confined to urban canyons.
Missing in the European car I drove was a whole new cabin-tech suite, a pretty impressive head unit for such a small and inexpensive car. The 1LT, at $14,495, and 2LT, at $15,795, trim levels come standard with Chevy's new MyLink head units, employing a 7-inch touch screen.
Not only does MyLink offer voice command with many of the same capabilities as Ford's Sync voice command, it also offers app integration. Along with Pandora and Stitcher apps built in standard, buyers will be able to option in the BringGo navigation app for just $50.
Chevrolet offered a media preview of the Spark today in New York. This weekend, the Spark will serve as pace car for The Color Run in New York, a national 5K race in which runners are doused with different colors at each stage of the race.