• The Spark reaches 32mpg city/38 mpg highway
  • An optional automatic achieves 28 mpg city/37 mpg highway
  • The Spark is currently on sale nationwide

The federal government's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced official fuel economy numbers for Chevrolet's newly released Spark. While the Spark falls short of the 40 miles per gallon mark, its EPA figures keep the small hatchback competitive within its cutthroat subcompact car segment.

According to the EPA, the Spark - which is priced from around $13,000 and offers an 85-horsepower 1.2-liter 4-cylinder engine - achieves 32 mpg in city driving and 38 mpg on the highway with its standard 5-speed manual transmission. With its optional 4-speed automatic, those numbers slide to 37 mpg on the highway and just 28 mpg in city driving.

Among other inexpensive subcompacts, the Spark's fuel economy figures are highly competitive. Nissan's entry-level Versa, for example, starts around $11,500 and boasts 27 mpg/city and 36 mpg/highway with its standard 5-speed manual. An optional continuously variable automatic transmission increases those numbers to 30 mpg/city and 37 mpg/highway, though the efficient gearbox adds a whopping $2,130 to the sedan's bottom line. Other diminutive new cars that achieve fuel economy numbers similar to the Spark include the Scion iQ, at 36 mpg/city and 37 mpg/highway and the FIAT 500, which achieves 30 mpg/city and 38 mpg/highway.

But Chevrolet might be disappointed by the Spark's fuel economy figures compares to the rest of the brand's lineup. Boasting a base price that's only $1,500 higher than its smaller stable mate, Chevrolet's recently released Sonic returns 29 mpg/city and 40 mpg/highway despite a more powerful engine and a larger interior. Meanwhile, the automaker's compact Cruze sedan can reach 28 mpg in the city and a whopping 42 mpg on the highway in its fuel-efficient Eco trim level.

On sale now, the 2013 Spark is the smallest Chevrolet ever sold in the United States. Born from the Chevrolet Beat concept car, which was released at the New York Auto Show in 2007, the Spark has been sold globally since 2009. US models began production in April and are manufactured at GM's Changwon assembly plant in South Korea.

What it means to you: Chevrolet's tiny Spark is finally on sale in the US.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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