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Holden lights up bright Spark

Spark it up: Holden has dropped the 'Barina' from the new Spark but added Apple CarPlay and Andriod Auto as standard.

All-new Holden Spark here in April with new safety, connectivity technology


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2 Feb 2016

GM HOLDEN has officially lifted the lid on its all-new Spark micro car that will go on sale in Australia in April with “class-leading” safety and technology features.

As GoAuto reported a year ago, the Spark has benefited from Holden engineering input in developing the suspension and ride and handling tuning, both in Australia and in South Korea where the model will be built.

Holden says the Spark is set to “shake up the micro-car segment” thanks to the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as standard across the range.

While some players in the light-car segment such as the Skoda Fabia offer the connectivity features, the Spark is the first car among its micro car competitors – the Mitsubishi Mirage, Suzuki Celerio, Nissan Micra and Fiat 500 – to offer the systems.

Holden director of vehicle performance Ian Butler said the suspension, steering and ride and handling development conducted on Australian soil by Holden engineers has helped ensure it is perfectly suited to local conditions.

“Spark is a truly global car but our engineers have made sure it performs exceptionally in Australia’s varied road conditions,” he said.

“We have been working with GM Korea since the beginning of the program and were able to collaborate to ensure the car is agile and nimble in urban environments, whilst remaining composed and comfortable on the open road.

“Key to developing the drive characteristics, was a significant round of testing and development at our Lang Lang proving ground conducted by our engineers, in addition to giving target customers the chance to evaluate the car.

“We’re confident the all-new Spark will set a new benchmark for the micro-car segment.” The design of the five-door Spark follows that of its Chevrolet sister car, carrying an identical grille and headlight combo, foglight housing and even the same wheels.

Full specification is expected closer to launch but it is believed the Spark will be available in two spec levels, with a base variant and range-topping LT as shown in the official images.

Pricing is also under wraps, but the Spark is expected to carry a slightly higher price tag than outgoing Barina Spark that retails for $12,890 plus on-road costs.

According to Holden, the new Spark has a lower profile compared with the Barina Spark that it replaces, thanks to thinner pillars, a lower overall height, a slightly longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs.

Cabin space is “comparable” to the outgoing model and the interior also features upgraded materials, a contemporary design with some contrasting colours depending on spec, and a “more engaging driving position.

The Spark is built on a new global GM platform and as well as being sold as a Spark in Australia, the United States and South Korea, will be sold as the Vauxhall Viva in the United Kingdom and the Opel Karl in Europe.

Replacing the 63kW (auto) 1.2-litre unit from the Barina Spark is a 73kW/128Nm 1.4-litre petrol four-cylinder engine that will be matched with either a five-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Australian fuel economy figures are yet to be announced but at the time of the Chevrolet Spark's reveal at last year's New York motor show, the American car-maker said the United States version could achieve about 5.8 litres per 100km.

In terms of safety equipment, the Spark features six airbags, ESC, hill-start assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, ABS, traction control and a reversing camera on the LT variant.

The Spark is the latest salvo in Holden's new model onslaught that will see 24 new models launched by 2020.

At a Holden media event late last year, Holden executive director of sales Peter Keley claimed that the new Spark “will be the best car in its segment, without a doubt,”.

Sales of micro-cars dropped by 32.3 per cent last year compared with 2014, with every model in the segment taking double-digit dives, except the Barina Spark which grew its sales by 15.4 per cent.

The segment leader last year was Mitsubishi's Mirage with 3885 sales, followed by Fiat's 500 with 2158, the Holden on 1450, Suzuki's new Celerio on 1399 and Nissan Micra on 1243.

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