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Sydney show: Holden to Spark micro-car craze

Secret entrance: The Spark has disguised rear doorhandles to give the looks of a three-door while offering the practicality of a five-door.

Sub-$13,000 starting price announced for Holden’s all-new Barina Spark city car

15 Oct 2010

GM HOLDEN did not use the first Sydney motor show in two years to unveil a stunning new concept car, as has become its tradition in recent years.

Nor did it stage the Australian debut of the Port Melbourne-designed Cruze hatch that made its world debut in Paris two weeks ago and will be built alongside the Cruze sedan in Adelaide from next year, or the local premiere of Chevrolet’s all-new Aveo, which also debuted at Paris and will go on sale here in five-door hatch and four-door sedan guises as the next-generation Barina in 12 months’ time.

Instead, Holden’s Sydney show presentation this morning was all about the Barina Spark mini-car, which was announced with entry-level pricing of $12,490 plus dealer delivery and government charges ahead of its official release on October 20.

The pint-sized Barina Spark CD is expected to replace the $14,790 Barina three-door hatch and will be offered alongside a more highly specified – but still manual-only – CDX version of the five-door hatch, priced from $13,990.

13 center imageThat makes both 1.2-litre Spark models significantly more affordable than the unrelated larger-bodied 1.6-litre Barina sedan and (five-door) hatch, pricing for which is unchanged at $16,290 (manual).

However, the Spark’s sub-$13,000 starting price (plus on-road costs) fails to match that of its most direct sub-light-sized rivals, including Suzuki’s pioneering 1.0-litre Alto five-door hatch ($11,790 plus on-roads) and Proton’s 1.3-litre S16 sedan ($11,990 driveaway).

Currently, the base Alto GL is available for $12,490 driveaway (or $12,990 with electronic stability control), while Hyundai’s Getz – traditionally one of Australia’s cheapest new cars – can be had in both entry-level 1.4-litre S three-door and five-door form for $12,990 driveaway.

While Hyundai will cease production of the Getz this month and is expected to replace it with the Indian-built i10 when stocks are exhausted early next year, the success or failure of Holden’s Spark is likely to influence the Australian future of a number of other similar sub-B-segment ‘superminis’, including the Volkswagen Up, Ford Ka and Toyota iQ.

Both Barina Spark variants will be powered by a 1.2-litre 16-valve twin-cam four-cylinder engine (matched, for now, exclusively with a five-speed manual transmission), which has now been confirmed to produce 59kW of power at 6400rpm and 107Nm of torque at 4800rpm – slightly more than the three-cylinder Alto’s 50kW and 90Nm.

Holden does not quote acceleration figures but in Europe the Spark 1.2 is claimed to hit 100km/h in 12.1 seconds on the way to a top speed of 164km/h.

Spark will be Holden’s most economical model (at least until the plug-in Volt hybrid arrives in 2012), with average fuel consumption of 5.6L/100km and CO2 emissions of 128g/km – enough to give the Euro 5 emissions-compliant vehicle a five-star Green Vehicle Guide rating from the federal government.

The base CD model will be well-specified in terms of safety, with an Alto-matching six airbags and an ESC system that comprises ABS brakes, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution and traction control, and will also come with air-conditioning, remote central locking, 14-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a bodykit and a rear spoiler.

The top-spec CDX adds 15-inch alloys, rear power windows, ‘Sportec’ perforated seat and (multi-function) steering wheel trim, an under-seat storage tray and a larger body-coloured rear spoiler.

All Sparks will come standard with powered and heated body-coloured door mirrors, front power windows, four-way adjustable front seats, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with iPod/iPhone and USB/MP3 inputs.

A ‘dual-cockpit’ cabin layout features a column-mounted, motorcycle-inspired instrument cluster featuring an ‘ice blue’ illuminated analogue speedo and a digital tacho.

The blue LED back-lighting theme continues to the centre stack’s audio and climate controls, while colour-coded (silver or red, depending on exterior colour) door trims and textured inserts flow from the instrument panel to the doors.

Spark buyers will also get a trip computer with distance to empty and outside temperature functions, front and rear cup-holders, twin front vanity mirrors, a sunglasses holder, front door pockets with integrated bottle storage, front passenger seat side and seatback pockets, a headlights-on warning buzzer and a 60/40 split-fold rear seat that extends cargo volume from a paltry 170 litres to 580 litres.

First seen at the 2009 Geneva motor show and based on GM’s new Gamma II small-car platform that will eventually spawn the next-generation Opel Corsa, the Spark – which replaces the Daewoo Matiz in some markets – rides on a 2357mm wheelbase and measures just 3595mm long, 1597mm wide and 1522mm high.

Holden says the Spark’s body design and extensive use of high-strength steel (60 per cent) in key areas such as engine compartment rails, engine cradle and safety cage deliver “robust structural integrity” and “reduce noise and vibration and contribute to a real sense of solidity and stability”.

A hydraulic rack-and-pinion power steering system is fitted, along with MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension systems.

Holden’s smallest model will be available in three solid exterior paint colours (Olympic White, Chilli Red and Cocktail Green) and four ‘prestige’ colours (Carbon Flash Black, Nitrate Silver, Luscious Kiss Pink and Moroccan Blue).

Accessories will include premium carpet floor mats, splash guards, chrome mirror covers and even side ‘tattoo’ and patterned stripe decals.

The Spark went on sale in Europe earlier this year and will eventually be sold in more than 150 nations globally. Like the existing (Daewoo Kalos-based) TK Barina and the model that will replace it next year, the MJ Spark is built by GM’s South Korean affiliate Daewoo.

“Barina Spark is absolutely a head-turner, but not just for its looks,” said GM Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux.

“It’s the most fuel-efficient car in the Holden line-up and comes standard with electronic stability control and six airbags. It’s a smart, fun, safe and fuel-efficient package that will win over a lot of savvy young drivers.

“Altogether it’s a street-smart package that we think will start to change the way small car buyers think about Holden.” The Barina Spark was joined in its Australian debut in Sydney by the first motor show appearance of Holden’s facelifted VE Series II Commodore range – including E85 ethanol-compatible 3.0 and 6.0-litre models – HSV’s new E3-series 20th Anniversary Maloo ute and a new special-edition LX-R version of the Colorado 4x4 Crew Cab Diesel, featuring 16-inch alloy wheels, a snap-fit soft tonneau cover and Bluetooth integration.

2011 Holden Barina Spark pricing:
CD $12,490
CDX $13,990

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