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New Holden Spark spied

Spark ignition: Holden's tiniest model is almost here with Australian-market versions of the Spark already zipping around our streets.

Right-hand-drive Spark spotted wearing Holden badges in Melbourne

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Holden logo9 Dec 2015

GM HOLDEN'S imminent Spark compact hatchback has been sighted out and about on Australian roads in right-hand-drive configuration and wearing the United States and Australia-only styling, ahead of its official launch early next year.

While GM's compact hatch has been previously spied on Australian roads wearing the United Kingdom's Vauxhall and European Opel design, this is the first time a Spark has surfaced dressed up in its Australian outfit.

The pre-production prototype was undisguised apart from its badges which were obscured, but the lion boot badge and Spark nameplate could be made out through the black tape, confirming it is the final draft.

Holden product communications senior manager Kate Lonsdale told GoAuto the Australian-market Spark was in the final stages of refinement ahead of the local launch early in 2016.

“We do have cars in the country and our guys are making some finishing touches to them,” she said. “We have been quite heavily involved in this program and that's continuing as we approach our launch.”

With hubcaps on skinny steel wheels, white paint and cloth interior, the spied car appears to represent the more affordable end of the Spark range, but Ms Lonsdale said there would be options for customers wanting more kit.

“You'll be able to opt up from the base model,” she said. “If you look at our range, we always try to provide a range for our customers and this will be no different.”

When it arrives, the Spark will be powered by a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine with 74kW sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT), but it is unlikely to be joined by a smaller 1.2-litre version that is offered in the US.

The new-look Spark was first seen with a Chevrolet badge at the New York motor show in April this year, and while the Holden version is not expected to differ greatly in styling, an official first look is yet to be offered.

Despite a downturn in the segment, Holden has high hopes for the new Spark as part of the 24 new models it intends to introduce by 2020.

Holden executive director of sales Peter Keley recently claimed the new Spark “will be the best car in its segment, without a doubt,” but the company is remaining tight-lipped about sales forecasts.

In its current form, the $12,890 before on-roads Barina Spark – Holden will drop the Barina part for the new model – is one of Australia's most affordable cars, but falls short of rivals from Fiat and Mitsubishi in terms of sales.

To the end of November, the Barina Spark had found 1407 homes versus the 3616 sales of the Mitsubishi Mirage and 2070 for the Fiat 500.

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