2011 Chevrolet Spark: The Nitty-Gritty

Size (or the lack of) Matters

It's been called a microcar, and for good reason - this thing will be small. Though it's expected to be somewhat larger than the present Spark/Matiz, which is a scant 138 inches long and 59 inches wide, it will be slightly smaller than the current Aveo, which measures 170 inches long and 67 inches wide. (The next-generation Aveo, by the way, will likely grow a bit as it moves up to the Opel Corsa's Gamma platform with its next redesign, in 2011 or 2012.)

To most Americans - save for Smart ForTwo owners - the Spark will appear Lilliputian, but they may be surprised by the interior. We're told that clever packaging will yield a cabin that's not noticeably smaller than today's Aveo, but cargo space will be compromised - don't expect to get more than a couple duffel bags behind the rear seat.

Sparks destined for North America will be larger than their overseas brethren in one way: engine displacement. While vehicle classes and tax brackets in many Pacific markets mandate engines smaller than 1.0-liter in displacement, Americans will likely see something along the lines of a 1.2-liter four-cylinder. GM executives are promising fuel economy of 40 mpg highway, which would surpass the smaller, two-seat Smart.

Will It Sell?

That remains to be seen. Though GM was (more or less) playing by itself when it brought the subcompact Aveo to our shores, the viability of the segment had already been proven years earlier by the likes of the Geo Metro and the Ford Aspire. That's not the case for the even-smaller Spark - aside from the Smart ForTwo, this segment is a relatively unproven one in the truck loving U.S-of-A.

Still, GM has some reason to bring the car stateside. The quick shift away from large trucks and SUVs has shown automakers that if gas is expensive enough - say, $4 a gallon - consumers will move to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Smart sold nearly 25,000 cars in the U.S. last year, while Mini's U.S sales were above 54,000 units, making North America the brand's largest market.

There's also the matter of the web voting - while some differed in which concept they preferred, all shared one common message: build one, and bring it here. And GM will, in the fourth quarter of 2011.

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