2013 Chevrolet Spark 1LT Review

11 Jul 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2013 Chevrolet Spark 1LT Review
Chevrolet Spark

Highs and lows

Igniting interest amongst the frugal

12/10/2012

While entering a segment that values fuel economy above all, the 2013 Chevy Spark attempts to ignite new-car interest in a demographic that has little to none. Tough criteria for sure. Read on to see if we think the Chevy Spark 1LT succeeds.

Once rare microcar now a growing segment

There was a time when shrunken runabouts would raise eyebrows on our North American streets. Not anymore.

Thanks to skyrocketing fuel costs and the increasing awareness of the effects we’re having on the environment, the microcar segment has not only become accepted, it’s growing in leaps and bounds.

The smart fortwo blazed the way. And like the smart, the Chevy Spark was a familiar sight in other markets before it reached our shores. We’d spied the Spark running about the streets of Seoul on a trip to South Korea a couple of years ago, where it has sold over 600,000 units, and is still manufactured today.

Techno-Pink roller skate

I have to admit, my first look at my 2013 Chevrolet Spark 1LT tester made me laugh. It was hard not to. Its angry little face was totally at odds with its Techno Pink paint scheme — a strange, diluted colour that put me in mind of ’70s bathroom fixtures.

Its height lends the illusion that the Spark is smaller than it is — at 3,675 mm from tip to tail, it’s actually longer than both the Scion IQ and Fiat 500. With its tiny wheels, gigantic headlights and gaping grille, the 2013 Chevy Spark’s an oversized anime roller skate. I was powerless not to feel some grudging anthropomorphic affection for it.

Inside, the decor is definitely cheap and cheerful. The gauge pod that adjusts up and down with the steering wheel is a funky touch, as is the blue ambient lighting. In keeping with its lean towards youth-appeal, my 1LT model tester came equipped with Chevrolet MyLink with touchscreen, Stitcher internet radio, AM/FM Sirius XM radio, as well as Bluetooth and voice recognition for connected smartphones.

But holy-mother-of-all-upholstery, is it too much to ask for a little padding in the seats? Even my more amply endowed passengers complained of the 2013 Chevrolet Spark‘s unyielding seating flatness, and backseat riders were especially annoyed by the protruding headrests.

There is, however, plenty of headroom and the front feels sufficiently roomy.

Unlike the smart fortwo — without a genuine backseat — there’s enough room for four passengers without the rear being some sort of penalty box for tiny people on a timeout. The rear seat splits and folds down, too — expanding the cargo space from 323 to 883 litres.

The gauge pod that adjusts up and down with the steering wheel is a funky touch, as is the blue ambient lighting. (Photo: Lesley Wimbush)

Highway passing requires plenty of forethought

Chevrolet Spark

By today’s standards, the 2013 Chevrolet Spark‘s 84 hp and 4-speed automatic transmission seem downright primitive. In fact, that’s exactly the configuration that drives my 21-year-old Japanese hatchback. However, for cars such as these, bred mainly as urban runabouts, it’s sufficient power to move it smartly around town — and just enough for it to keep up on the highway.

Passing, however, is best done with plenty of forethought. There are no quick bursts of speed in the 2013 Chevy Spark’s repertoire.

Power sacrifices are generally made in the name of fuel efficiency. In the case of the Spark, it falls short in this oh-so-crucial aspect of this segment. During my week-long road test, I averaged 7.3L/100 km — compared to 6.8L/100 km in the Chevy Cruze Eco, a much bigger and far more refined car.

Sparky does shine as an urban runabout

To be fair, the 2013 Chevrolet Spark 1LT really does shine as an urban microcar. It’s fairly manoeuvrable, although you’d never accuse it of sportiness. It moves in and around traffic easily, slips into small parking spots with fairly minimal effort, and its steering (while on the light side) is accurate and feels suitably matched to its handling.

Any hard cornering will reveal a bit of body roll, but the suspension is nicely balanced and soaks up most of the bumps you’re likely to encounter in an urban environment.

It’s fairly manoeuvrable, although you’d never accuse it of sportiness. (Photo: Lesley Wimbush)

Too much is not enough

Where the 2013 Chevrolet Spark lost me is on price: For a car that’s being aggressively marketed towards millenials my tester’s $16,445 price is simply too high. Perhaps I’m wrong; it’s been years since I was a 20-something scraping together spare change to buy a battered-yet-still-road-worthy relic from the want ads.

The Spark is rather cute, and I really wanted to like it. Knock a few thousand off the sticker price and its unremarkable fuel economy would be forgiven.

Chevrolet Spark
Chevrolet Spark
Chevrolet Spark
Chevrolet Spark
Chevrolet Spark
Chevrolet Spark
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