Chevy lights the Spark
Words and Photos by Steven Loung
Love them or hate them, super small cars are here to stay in North America.
The latest vehicle in this emerging class is the 2013 Chevrolet Spark and it comes loaded with a slew of very cool features, but is ultimately held back by some performance issues.
One of the first things I notice is how similar in design the Spark is to its elder brother, the Chevy Sonic. The overall aesthetic of the car is extremely similar to the Sonic and its interior even uses the same motorcycle-like gauges.
After getting past the initial déjà vu that I experienced between the Spark and Sonic, I'm very impressed at how much Chevy was able to pack into such a tiny car.
Compared to direct competitor cars such as the Scion iQ and Fiat 500, the Spark doesn’t feel very cramped when you get into the car. This is because it's taller than most mini cars and it features two seats in the back that adults can both get into and sit in comfortably. T Spark comes standard with five doors (four doors and a hatchback door).
I also really like the amount of storage space the Spark provides. Everywhere you look there is either a cup holder or some sort of groove/ledge to put down a book or a personal electronic device like a MP3 player. Most impressive is the amount of space in the back you get when you fold down the two back seats. It’s like a complete transformation of the car and is a feature that definitely trumps the Spark’s competitors in a big way.
Another impressive feature of the Spark is the MyLink radio that comes standard with all models. First introduced with most of the 2012 Chevrolet models, MyLink is an easy-to-use touchscreen radio interface that allows for MP3 connectivity, Bluetooth connectivity with your smartphone, the ability to show pictures and videos – either through your phone or a USB device – and a trial subscription to XM satellite radio.
In addition to all of this, MyLink will also feature support for the BringGo navigation app. BringGo is a new app for iOS and Android devices that will cost about $50. When connected to MyLink, it acts as the car’s on-the-fly GPS unit and features maps from Google Maps rendered in 3D if you so choose. Since the app is connected to your smartphone, it can also give you live traffic updates to adjust your route at the expense of data charges.
Without question, the interior features of the Spark make this car something really special. However, there is one thing holding it back and that’s the way it drives.
When I took it out for a test drive, I immediately notice its sluggish acceleration. Now, it’s understandable that it wouldn’t have the greatest acceleration given the fact it’s only packing a five-speed 84-horsepower engine (four-speed automatic) but, since I was given a presentation before driving it about how it could zip around traffic quickly, I was expecting a lot more and I was gravely disappointed.
I also wasn’t a fan of being on the highway with the vehicle. It’s a problem inherent to super small cars, but I just didn’t feel all that safe and comfortable on the highway in the Spark – particularly when there were large trucks next to me and full-size sedans or SUVs speeding right by me.
As for what I like about driving the car, I enjoy the sharp turn radius and how easy it is to park the car. However, these are pluses that you will find with any small car.
The Spark begins retailing for $13,495 for the budget LS version of the car, which Chevrolet representatives believe will sell the most, the 1LT, which goes for $16,695 and the premium class 2LT, which is an estimated $18,495.
The differences between the models are purely based on features and aesthetics, nothing to do with the performance of the car, meaning that every class will get the same level of fuel efficiency – 7.1 L/100 km for city driving with the automatic transmission and 6.3L/100 km with the manual.
Overall, the Chevrolet Spark is a great car feature-wise with lots to like when commuting throughout a city. As long you don’t expect to be whizzing around traffic in the vehicle and/or don’t do a lot of highway driving, you should be quite happy with it.
2013 Chevrolet Spark
|Price Range||$13,495 - $18495|
Transverse-mounted four-cylinder DOHC VVT
|Horsepower / Torque||
84 hp / 83 lb-ft
4-speed automatic, 5-speed manual
|Fuel Economy Rating||
7.1 / 5.2 L/100 km; 40 / 54 mpg (city / hwy.)
Automatic Transmission, Black Granite Metallic Paint