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J U N E 2 0 1 7




Dr Peter Randell


ales of micro-cars have dropped

by 30 per cent in the last year,

making this a hard-fought

segment. Holden is also facing the

cessation of the Commodore and is

keen to hold or increase its market

share. Can the completely new Spark

light the wick?

Here is a tiny five-door hatch designed

by the vast resources of General

Motors, built in Korea to be sold in Oz.

The sharp design on the outside is

quite European, with an Audi like nose,

daytime running lights and fogs. Trick

door handles for the rear doors are

hidden in the window frames to make

the car more coupé like.

Within, the big buzz is a seven-inch

touch screen dominating the central

column. The steering wheel is a smarty,

with phone, radio and cruise control

buttons, behind which is a tacho and

speedo. If you have a smartphone, it

can be mirrored to the touch screen

and Siri can then do voice-to-text

messages at your whim. This also

creates a navigation system through

the phone’s maps, and plays your

phone’s music through the car’s six

speakers. This is stunning connectivity,

all in just a few years.

The driving force under the bonnet is

a 1.4L four-cylinder naturally aspirated

engine producing 73kW and 128Nm.

Not much, but the Spark is very light,

resulting in brisk acceleration in this,

the most powerful of the micro car


The impression of a five-gear box when

accelerating hard is false, as this car

has Holden’s first continuously variable

transmission, and it works well with

seamless forward motion in normal


Handling and suspension produced a

pleasant surprise with the fluidity of

response to steering inputs and none

of the bounciness one might expect

with such a short wheelbase. The

Korean-built car has had extensive

development in Australia, and it shows.

The driving experience is enhanced by

excellent all-round vision, the

windows being quite

large – with all

electric winders

on the LT model, and quaint manual

winders on the LS.

Quality was good throughout the cabin,

with an unusual patterned white metal

band across the dash. Very funky! The

rear seats have good leg/head/foot

space, but a small boot results.

Economy is claimed to be 5.2L/100kms

but I saw more with my short, sharp


I respect the laws of physics and would

never want to have a bingle with a bus

in a micro-car, but the Spark is ANCAP

5-star rated, with six airbags, ABS, EBD,

BA, Traction Control, a collapsible pedal

release system, seatbelt pretensioners,

electronic stability control, rear view

camera and rear park assist (and my

friends at uni laughed at me in 1965

for putting a lap-belt in my 1949 Austin

A40!). This is a very safe little car, and

combined with its notable connectivity

and stylishness, should do well.




RRP from $13,990+ORC;

this LS variant $18,990+ORC.

Vehicle supplied by Shacks

Holden, Fremantle.

Tiny treat:

The Holden Spark shows off a rather European looking exterior with an Audi like nose,

daytime running lights and fogs.

Smart car:

Inside the Spark’s cabin, a

seven-inch touch screen dominates the

central column.