Detailed experimental information on the early stages of spark ignition process represent a substantial part for guiding the development of engines with higher efficiencies and reduced pollutant emissions. Flame kernel formation influences strongly combustion development inside the cylinder, especially for a direct injection spark ignition engine. This study presents the analysis of the evolution of spark-ignited flame kernels with detailed view upon cycle-to-cycle variations. Experiments are performed in a SI optical engine equipped with the cylinder head and injection system of a commercial turbocharged engine. Blend of commercial gasoline and butanol (40% by volume) is tested at stoichiometric and lean mixture conditions.Experiments are carried out at 2000 rpm through conventional tests (based on in-cylinder pressure measurements and exhaust emission analysis) and through optical diagnostics. In particular, UV-visible digital imaging and natural emission spectroscopy are applied. A post-detection procedure is used to evaluate flame kernel areas evolution and its correlation to the MFB. UV-visible natural emission spectroscopy is applied to investigate the formation and the evolution of the main compounds characterizing the spark ignition and combustion process.