Queensland and Australian rugby league captain, Cameron Smith, is sitting on top of Holden’s new Spark to show its strength.

Queensland and Australian rugby league captain, Cameron Smith, is sitting on top of Holden’s new Spark to show its strength.

Australia is one of the toughest countries of all in which to sell cars. A huge number of marques with a mind-numbing selection of models are being endlessly promoted by marketing gals and guys. All of whom are desperate to gain more than their fair share of the automotive sales action.

Their efforts tax the strength of my inbox and letter box every day.

We motoring journos have to consign much of the marketing hyperbole to our trash bins – electronic as well as the square type under the desk – as the PR releases have a lot of predictable sameness to them.

So it was great fun to receive something right out of the ordinary from Holden this morning. The press release announced that the new Holden Spark has been given a five-star safety rating. Which is good news, but to be perfectly honest nothing out of the ordinary as almost all cars get five stars nowadays.

Where it did become fun was when Holden said, “Spark’s high-strength steel safety cage is capable of supporting a roof-load force 3.92 times that of its own weight … if you’re an excellent jenga-playing fan of State of Origin – that’s the weight of the Queensland and New South Wales squads combined!

This figure is based on combined weight of the 2015 State of Origin squads (Queensland aggregate weight 1777 kg, NSW aggregate weight 1911 kg) as detailed on the Queensland and NSW State of Origin websites.”


It finished, tongue in cheek, with, “Disclaimer – Holden does not recommend customers attempt to balance any State of Origin squads on top of a Holden Spark, or any other car.”

On a more serious note, “Holden’s Director of Vehicle Performance, Ian Butler, said that safety was the first priority in developing the all-new Spark during engineering work carried out by Holden with GM internationally.” A fair bit of this work was done at Holden’s Lang Lang test facility in Victoria.

The message here is that the Australian automotive industry is alive and well. While, sadly, all car manufacturing will stop in Australia in 2017, this country’s engineers, designers, test drivers and many other are held in very high regard globally. While Holden Spark is ready to go now, there are dozens of other projects at various stages of development being worked on as you read this. Many are on vehicles that will be sold here one day, others will be sold overseas but not reach our shores.

The key safety features on the all-new Holden Spark (previously called Barina Spark) are driver assistance controls such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control (TC) and Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS); front, side and curtain airbags; and a rear view camera with park assist on the higher-spec LT model.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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