The little Spark has been somewhat of a surprising entry in the modern Chevy lineup in the US. Given its diminutive stature, you might have expected the slightly larger Sonic to cannibalize the tiny sibling’s sales, but that hasn’t happened. The Bowtie moved 39,159 Sparks in the US in 2014, a 14.7 percent boost from the previous year. Now at the 2015 New York Auto Show, the latest generation is being unveiled with a new engine and much improved styling.
Replacing the current 1.2-liter four-cylinder is an all-aluminum 1.4-liter unit making 98 horsepower. That still doesn’t sound like much, but it’s 16 percent more than the 2015 Spark. The new mill can be connected to either a five-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission with which Chevy estimates 40 miles per gallon highway fuel economy.
The 2016 Spark also gets a longer wheelbase and 1.6-inch lower overall height. Combined with more elliptical headlights at the front, the changes make for a somewhat more sleek appearance than the current, boxy model. The platform underneath is more rigid as well, and Chevy claims the latest underpinnings mean better handling and lower NHV levels inside. The little hatch isn’t growing up too much, though, and gets a trio of new colors that sound like jellybean flavors: Toasted Marshmallow, Kalamata and Splash.
Chevy is packing the interior with better quality materials and improved tech. Chevy’s latest seven-inch MyLink system sits in the center stack with a capacitive touchscreen, and it now comes with a physical volume control and other buttons for easier use. All models also get a rearview camera, and a LCD instrument cluster remains in front of the driver. The available suite of safety systems includes Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Side Blind Spot Alert.
The 2016 Spark goes on sale in the US in the fourth quarter of 2015 and is produced in South Korea. Expect a gallery showing off all its new styling from the New York show floor soon.