All-new Holden Spark Engineered For Adventure. Three weeks after Holden revealed specifications and pricing of the all-new Spark, Australia’s motoring media have put the class-leading new micro-car to the test at Holden’s top-secret Lang Lang proving ground
Having already confirmed Spark’s advanced technology features including a seven-inch colour touch screen and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto as standard, Holden has now revealed the under-the-skin secrets that ensure Spark seamlessly integrates into the lifestyles of modern Australians.
Holden’s Director of Vehicle Performance, Ian Butler, said that Spark was developed with a laser-like focus on the customer, not just from a connectivity perspective but also in the drivability and performance of Holden’s most compact car.
“Holden engineers have been heavily involved in the development of Spark from the outset, to make sure Australian customer needs are satisfied,” said Mr. Butler.
“We know that Spark drivers are more adventurous and will likely experience a variety of roads, including part-sealed bitumen and gravel on trips camping, to the beach or just down to the shops.”
Working closely with their international counterparts, Holden engineers travelled to South Korea on multiple occasions at the start of the Spark program to define suitable powertrain combinations and important content to aid noise and vibration improvements.
“We’ve been working as part of a global GM team to help develop the CVT transmission available on Spark for the Australian market, and when combined with its all-new 1.4-litre engine, we have been able to deliver a 16 per cent increase in power and up to a 20 per cent increase in torque,” said Mr. Butler.
“Defining effective powertrain combinations was a key first step in allowing the Holden team to be able to tune the car to suit Australian lifestyles and usages.”
Australian specific tuning and calibration
Utilising the wide array of facilities available at Holden’s top secret Lang Lang proving ground, Australian engineers were able to perform critical tuning work to develop the character of Spark and ensure it drives as a Holden should.
Holden’s Vehicle Dynamics Engineer, Rob Trubiani, said there were three major pieces of engineering work carried out by the Holden team and suppliers at Lang Lang and on the public roads of Gippsland; suspension tune, steering calibration and chassis controls tune.
“Key to Spark’s unmistakable Holden DNA is its Australian-specific suspension tune, developed after hundreds of hours and thousands of kilometres at Lang Lang,” said Mr Trubiani.
“We have introduced alternative dampers and tuned them specifically to improve road holding and increase body control. This gives the driver an improved ride balance especially over some of the more challenging road surfaces we see outside the cities.
Another important piece of engineering work was a unique Holden steering calibration, developed in collaboration with the supplier at Lang Lang.
“The steering calibration required extensive drive testing and numerous setting modifications to provide the feel we understand our customers need; zippy and nimble in the city whilst being engaging to drive on country roads,” said Mr. Trubiani.
“We know customers aren’t chasing racing performance but this improved steering will provide more on-centre feel, crisper response and a linear effort build up, which will give control and confidence to all drivers.
The final step in the local development process was the optimisation of chassis controls, working with Bosch on Holden’s gravel road testing circuit to test features including hill start assist, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control (TC) and ABS.
“Our optimisation of chassis controls further adds to the confidence this vehicle delivers. Spark is more than capable on challenging gravel-road surfaces with the aid of key features like ESC and Traction Control,” said Mr. Trubiani.
“It was important to us to be able to deliver a car that inspires confidence in the driver whilst being fun to drive, both on bitumen and gravel. This may be a micro car, but it’s big on driving appeal and sophistication.”
“Overall, Spark offers a mature and cultured feel that, when combined with its exceptional feature list and attractive design, will set a new benchmark in the micro-car segment.”
Australian Test Fleet
Following many hours and kilometres of tuning and calibration work, Holden engineers selected a range of seven Sparks to utilise in a ‘Captive Test Fleet’, allowing them to understand how the car performs in everyday life.
Continuing Holden’s focus on developing young talent and keeping the target customer front of mind, engineers handpicked 29 young employees and student interns to continuously test two of the Captive Test Fleet cars over a three-month period.
“Testing the car using a combination of experienced engineers and young employees was a real eye-opener for us,” said Mr. Butler.
“As you would expect, our engineers were able to ensure the car handles and performs smoothly over a variety of road surfaces, whilst our target market employees tended to be more focused on how the connectivity and convenience features integrated with their everyday lives.”
“We have a great Co-operative Student Program that gives approximately 70 university students a year the opportunity to experience a 12-month placement in the industry whilst studying for their degree. It has been incredibly beneficial to be able to lean on the opinions of our student employees and make sure we deliver a car that meets their needs.”
Complementing its sophisticated and mature performance is a range of feature technology ensuring Holden’s most affordable vehicle is designed to integrate seamlessly with customer’s lives.
Spark boasts a seven-inch colour touchscreen with the latest Holden MyLink infotainment system, and the innovative Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto technology* available across the range as standard. Siri Eyes Free and voice recognition software also allow drivers to give verbal commands ensuring their hands never have to leave the wheel, and their Spark becomes an integrated part of their lifestyle.
The all-new Holden Spark will go on sale at Holden dealerships across Australia from April 2016.
*compatible with iPhone 5 / Android 5.0 (Lollipop or higher)
Holden Spark Range and Feature Highlights
5-speed manual transmission
CVT transmission (optional)
Electronic Stability Control
ABS & Traction Control System
Remote Central Locking
14-inch steel wheels (4) with covers
Electric Power Steering (EPS)
Hill Start Assist
60/40 rear folding seats
Driver information cluster
Steering wheel audio controls
Holden MyLink Infotainment System with 7-inch colour touch screen
Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto mobile phone projection
Siri Eyes Free and Smartphone Voice Recognition Pass-Through
LT highlights over LS:
15-inch alloy wheels (4)
Push button start
Leather wrapped steering wheel
Jet Black Sportec seat trim
Interior trim – Mirotic White highlights
Rear Park Assist
Rear view camera
Driver Assistance Pack (LS)*
Rear Park Assist
Rear view camera
* available June 2016
Spark Exterior Colours
Carbon Flash Black*
Splash metallic blue*
Fresh Lime Green*
* prestige paint is a $550 option
Holden Spark Recommended Retail Pricing
Spark LS – manual transmission $13,990
Spark LS – automatic transmission $15,690
Spark LT – automatic transmission $18,990