Driven: 2012 Spark
Minimal Size, Maximum Savings
Even in europe, surrounded by minuscule motorcars, Chevrolet's Spark looks small, narrower than it is tall. But from behind the wheel -- one of the most perfectly sculpted ever fitted to a mass-produced car -- it feels surprisingly spacious, as though Harry Potter had a hand in organizing the interior volume. True, the trunk is tiny, in part because the European-market car we drove has both a full-size gasoline tank and a pressure vessel for liquid-petroleum gas that takes up a good deal of room.
The twin-cam, sixteen-valve 1.0-liter four-cylinder idles so quietly that you'd think you were in an electric vehicle, yet it produces more than one horsepower per cubic inch, which at one time was the measure of a truly high-performance car. That the Spark is not, but it is quite adequate in urban traffic, provided you keep the revs up. Shifting is not a Honda-like, click-click joy, but it's not bad. On French rural roads at speeds up to 70 mph, "not bad" is a fair assessment of the entire package. This is not a car you'd buy for road trips, but for commuting and getting groceries it's a viable choice, well-made, nicely trimmed, and comfortable enough on the fourteen-inch tires on the top-of-the-line LS we drove.
- Robert Cumberford
The good news for chevrolet is that, for the first time since REO Speedwagon topped the Billboard charts with "Can't Fight This Feeling," more people are buying Camaros than Mustangs. The bad news is that the Blue Oval boys have responded in a big way and now have a faster, more efficient pony car. Chevy will return fire with a Shelby-fighting Z28, now back on track for a late-2011 arrival with supercharged V-8 motivation. Burning the rear tires should be easy with the 556-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 from the Cadillac CTS-V, but the Z28 should be marginally quicker due to a lower curb weight. Additionally, look for continual improvements each model year rather than the typical mid-cycle face-lift. The 2011 model year introduces the convertible, and the V-6 will get an 8-hp bump (to 312 hp). Engineers are also fine-tuning the handling to address complaints that the car doesn't turn in quickly enough. Further out, expect the Camaro to get more efficient, likely by offering turbocharged four- or six-cylinder engines. The next-generation car will also get lighter by switching from the Zeta architecture to the smaller Alpha platform.
Cruze: Late 2010
Chevy's Cobalt replacement will debut as a sedan only, but insiders are pushing hard for SS and four-door-coupe variants.
Volt: Late 2010
It's finally coming! However, the rollout will be slow, moving region by region. Production could eventually ramp up to some 60,000 units annually.
The new Aveo, seen here in concept form, is both bigger and much more refined than the current model, and it will be built in the United States rather than in Korea.
A chunky, seven-seat concept that could spawn a mechanical twin similar to the GMC Granite concept.
Malibu: 2013<br /> Face-lifted with more styled lines and new powertrains, likely including another hybrid.