By on September 28, 2012

It’s very cheap. It’s very small. It’s from a manufacturer that hasn’t historically focused on either. So, is the 2013 Chevrolet Spark the best car for your worst enemy?

Chevrolet offers the Korean-engineered-and-assembled Spark in some fun colors, including jalapeno (lime green), lemonade (pale yellow), and techno pink (hater bait). Yet the styling is contra-500, with the same chunky angularity as other recent Chevrolet designs. At 144.7 x 62.9 x 61.0 inches the A-segment Spark is 14 inches shorter and five inches narrower than a B-segment Chevrolet Sonic, but a little taller, and nearly as tall as it is wide. Given the proportions the designers had to work with, they didn’t do badly. Among small cars that don’t attempt cute, you’ll certainly find some homelier appliances. But does such an aggressive face belong on anything with well under 100 horsepower?

Enter the Spark with appropriately low expectations, and its interior exceeds them. The surfaces are the hard plastic that’s a given with a $12,995 sticker, but come across as sturdily functional rather than cheap. (This said, jump from a Spark to a Sonic and the latter suddenly seems almost plush.) Half-digital instruments recall those in the next-up Chevy, but they aren’t quite as fun here. With relatively few functions to manage, GM’s designers had little choice but to make the controls simple and easy to operate.

The biggest news inside the smallest Chevrolet is that four adults can fit pretty well within a 93.5-inch wheelbase. This is no iQ, where automotive packaging has been reinvented to carve out space for an extra 0.8 adults (0.2 behind the driver, 0.6 behind the passenger) within a smart-sized microcar (120.1 x 66.1 x 59.1 inches). The Spark’s packaging is relatively conventional, the main tricks being a high seating position and wheel wells that won’t swallow dubs. But get this: a Ford Focus, two size classes up, has two fewer inches of rear legroom. The Sonic also doesn’t have quite as much, and the C-segment Cruze has just a few tenths more. Shoulder room is in shorter supply, but there’s a little more than in a 500, thanks to the Spark’s barn door body sides. The seats aren’t sufficiently padded for long trips, but around town they’ll do. With the Spark’s barely there rear overhang, cargo doesn’t fare well with the rear seat up, just 11.4 cubes. A few grocery bags will fit. But fold the rear seat and there’s somehow more volume than in the Sonic (31.2 vs. 30.7).

The least friendly aspect of the interior has been imposed by the Spark’s exterior (or perhaps by a desire to make the car seem as safe as a bunker). The beltline dips dramatically as it approaches the mirrors, and there wasn’t enough space for designers to go Buck Rogers with the A-pillars, so visibility to the front quarters is good. But as in the Toyota Yaris the base of the windshield is considerably higher than that of the front windows. I felt the need to raise the seat to see over the instrument panel, at which point the windshield header intruded.

There are more constricted views forward, even in the same showroom, but such a tall, small car could easily excel in this area. Also, the beltline can dip so dramatically going forward because it is very high in the rear doors. Smallish rear seat passengers will enjoy a view of the tree tops.

The 100-horsepower 1.5-liter Mazda2 seems grossly grunt-deficient. So the situation should be nigh well hopeless in the 84-horsepower 1.2-liter Spark, which also weighs about 2,300 pounds. Yet, with a five-speed manual transmission, the Chevrolet gets around okay at sub-highway speeds. Mind you, the Spark never feels sprightly, but through more effective tuning, tweaking, and thrash suppression the Chevrolet’s relaxed pace sounds and feels appropriate while the Mazda’s seems sluggish. I had flashbacks to the 1980s Civics I used to enjoy. The shifter’s throws are longish, but smooth. GM has done worse.

Like other conventionally-powered small cars, the Spark runs into the 40 mile-per-gallon wall. It’s EPA highway rating of 38 is matched by the D-segment Nissan Altima and pretty much every B- and C-segment car. Apparently whatever the low curb weight giveth the aerodynamics inherent in a tall, stubby hatchback taketh away. An EPA city rating of 32 is more impressive

The GM tradition of tuning small cars to handle like larger cars continues with the Spark. The car feels much less tippy than a fortwo or iQ, but also less agile than its specs suggest it should feel. Its secure chassis dynamics fall into the vast middle ground between fun and frightening, successfully avoiding both poles. There’s little grip to be had from the Goodyear Integritys, but were you expecting any? Your ears rather than your fingertips let you know when they start to slide. The ride gets a little busy and noisy over 50 mph, but is reasonably smooth and quiet at around-town speeds, no mean feat given the car’s short wheelbase and low curb weight.

The Spark LS’s $12,995 base (and as-tested!) price might not seem crazy cheap. After all, both Hyundai and Nissan have offered $9,995 specials in recent years. But that price was without destination, air conditioning, or power windows. The Spark’s price includes all three—it’s not just for the ads—along with alloy wheels and ten airbags. But not power locks or mirrors. If you want those, cruise, Bluetooth, and some other goodies worth about $1,800 altogether, spend another $1,500 for the LT. Add $925 for a four-speed automatic transmission. Even the Spark LS includes about $2,800 more content than a Nissan Versa 1.6S, based on TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool. Adjust for this extra content, and the Nissan’s initial $225 pricing advantage becomes a $2,600 disadvantage. Other B-segment cars, including the Sonic, are similarly well over $2,000 more once feature differences are adjusted for. Among cars with a livable level of content, the Spark is easily the least expensive.

So, back to that worst enemy—it depends. If your nemesis is always hurrying or takes long highway trips, then sure, punish him or her with a Chevrolet Spark. But if they’re satisfied by a solid, economical, thoroughly sufficient driving appliance, or would prefer a pink or lime green anything to a gray Teuton, then you’ll have to find another means.

Harry Barnett of Jay Chevrolet in Highland, MI, provided the car (a relatively boring red one because it had a stick). He can be reached at 248-748-1126.

Michael Karesh operates truedelta.com, a provider of car reliability and pricing information.

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117 Comments on “Review: 2013 Chevrolet Spark LS...”


  • avatar

    A note on the gap beneath the hood on the green car: the hood wasn’t all the way closed. The dealer had all the hoods open (to show off the 1.2?). I wanted to close the hood for the shot but didn’t want Harry to have to dig up the keys to unlock the car just for this.

    • 0 avatar
      ezeolla

      In the picture of the back seats, why does the closer seat cushion look higher than the further one?

      • 0 avatar

        Mistake on my part. I have other photos where it’s even. My best guess is that the cushion pops up and flops forward so the seatback can fold flat, and it wasn’t fully snapped back into place in that shot. I don’t remember this from the test drive, but it has been a few weeks.

    • 0 avatar
      ed02478

      Hi Michael,

      I purchased an LT2 for my daughter to commute back and forth to college in Boston. The car is cute, roomy, turns on a dime and is easy to park. We have had it for 10 months 9,000 miles. The lower grille is very large (a golf ball can fit through it). Inexplicably the air conditioning condenser is directly behind the lower grille unprotected. Over the winter the sand used to treat our roads ruptured the condenser, a $900.00 repair (almost 10% of the purchase price) which we are being told is not covered under warrenty. We have been on-line and it appears to be a problem all over the world. It seems a pitty they could put up a mesh screen on the lower grille. I would recommend not purchasing this car.

      • 0 avatar
        Don Sum

        Same problem here on my Spark. Hole in the condenser first time using AC less than 8k miles on it. Dealer said $730 to fix it, costed me around $150 to diagnose the problem. I then called Chevrolet costumer service and they will do nothing for you for a manufacturers design flaw. Bet 2014 will not be like this. First Chevrolet I ever Owned and the last, Back to Dodge for me.

      • 0 avatar
        heatherwest11

        I registered on the site just so I could let you know the exact same thing has happened to me. I just got back from the dealership from which I bought the car. I was told that it would be around $750 to repair and of course it wasn’t covered under my extended warranty I paid an extra $1000 for. What a shame.

  • avatar
    Banger

    Nicely reviewed, Mr. Karesh.

    I saw my first Spark in person a few days ago going the opposite direction on a rural two-lane. Still not sure if the design sits well with me. It seemed a little goofy in terms of proportions. The headlights stretching all the way to the A-pillars surely doesn’t help.

    Questions:

    1. MP3 connectivity for the base AM/FM?

    2. Did the trip computer give a rolling MPG estimate, and if so, did you note its readings during your test?

    3. How long until we start seeing $2,000 on the short, short hoods of these in rural America, in your estimation?

    • 0 avatar

      Supposedly these are selling very well, though the dealer where I test drove the car wasn’t selling any. Bad location for a city car, in an outlying Detroit suburb.

      Base audio has an aux in. For USB you need the LT. No CD player in either trim.

      I observed about 36 during the suburban test with a maximum speed around 60 and few stops.

      • 0 avatar
        Banger

        Interesting stuff, MK.

        I do love the trend of aux in ports on base radios. I’d kill for my Ranger to have one on its base AM/FM. No more mangled CD cases to slide around and rattle endlessly. And decent-capacity MP3 players are getting downright cheap.

        This is now in the running for the Banger Ranger’s cheap commuter replacement. Used models will probably turn up with low miles for cheeeeap in a year or two if the last year of the (actually somewhat attractive) Aveo is anything to go by.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        With no CD player they might aswell use steel wheels and roll-up windows to reduce costs.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        Cd players are going the way of 8 tracks and cassette players……..

    • 0 avatar
      Zombo

      You can get a nice Pioneer head unit with remote control,front USB port and 3.5mm aux input for less than 100 bucks these days – with or without CD player , some with Pandora internet radio or HD radio . I prefer using USB memory sticks or SD cards in a USB adapter over mp3 players or CDs .

      http://www.sonicelectronix.com/viewcat.php?manufacturer_id=25&category_id=11&page=1&items_per_page=100

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Very nice review, Michael.

    Question: how much money does Chevy save by replacing the steel in the front fender with clear plastic?

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    when i test drove the chevrolet sonic the sales person (whom i instinctively liked – which was odd) indicated that the spark is really a city car and not for long distance or prolonged highway speeds. this review seems to agree with that statement.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’ve already seen two of these on the road in haters be hating pink. I was shocked to see two different examples already out there, bought by real people. The color reminds me of the “rose” color offered by Mercury and Merkur’ in the 80’s. The more things change…

    Thank you Michael for establishing this is an A segment car, the B&B insisted this was dimensionally a B-segment offering.

    I sure won’t be buying or renting one (well I guess I can say never say never in the rental department, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been handed the keys to a penalty box on wheels).

    I however take this that as a big complement, as US automotive buying history shows that consumers LOVE appliances, “But if they’re satisfied by a solid, economical, thoroughly sufficient driving appliance…”

    [INSERT IT’S A DAEWOO HERE]

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      “I’ve already seen two of these on the road in haters be hating pink”

      We can probably assume that the Sonic is the official car for Bronies.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      I can assure you that Merkurs never came in any shade of paint that could be mistaken for pink. Mercurys definately did though.

      • 0 avatar
        wagonsonly

        No, but Merkurs did definitely come in some pretty weird colors. My ’88 Scorpio was a kind of greyish-lilac-beige metallic – depending on the light you really couldn’t tell whether it was gray, tan, or light purple. I think the factory color was something like “cinnamon.”

        My wife works for a large manufacturing firm that requires all vehicles to display parking permits; in order to get a permit you have to put your make/model/color/plate number into an online portal, all through pull-down lists. Shortly before we got married, her Toyota died and she was driving the Scorpio while shopping for a replacement. The parking permit that she generated for the car was Make: Other Model: Other Color: Other Plate: CT Other XXXXX. Even the license plate hand an “other” in it since her selections were passenger, commercial, combination and other and the car had antique tags at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Slab

      If I was to buy one of these, I’d definitely get it in a crazy color. Otherwise, why bother?

  • avatar
    Feds

    What a cute little rollerskate! I just want to pinch its cheeks!

    That said: Mr. Mehta’s head must have exploded looking at that lower grille on the front. Yipes.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      This car must be his worst nightmare. Never has one vehicle had so many black plastic triangles.

      The “DLO Fail” doesn’t bother me on this car, I’ve seen far worse. But the filler behind the headlights? Jesus. They took a terrible idea (comically oversized lights) and made it 10x worse.

  • avatar
    tbone33

    How do you perform the rear legroom check? Do you back the front seat up all the way, then check rear legroom? Or do you adjust the front, then check the back? I ask because your Sonic hatch review said there was minimal rear legroom, yet my wife and I find it to have more rear legroom than anything in its class, including the Fit, and even more rear legroom than the Mazda3. That was using the “adjust the front seats for yourself, then check the rear” method. Other publications have come to the same conclusion.

    • 0 avatar

      I adjust the seat for myself (5-9, but I drive with my legs straighter than most), then sit behind it. If my knees end up within an inch of the front seatbacks, I call it minimal. The Mazda3 is close to the Sonic; there was more rear legroom in the Protege it replaced. Some B-segment cars are sub-minimal. The Fiesta has a very tight rear seat.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    A fair review that points out the definite pros (there are a few) and cons (there are a few) of the tiny Spark.

    I think its best color is black, which tempers the massive maw of a grille and visually shrinks the headlamp assemblies – along with whatever’s going on with the front door-mirror-A-pillar.

    In August, Chevy sold more than 2,600 Sparks, outselling the xB, xD, Lancer, Yaris, SX4, Mazda2, fortwo, cube, and iQ. Small fries, to be sure, but hey, it’s a small car.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I really like that GM seems to be doing away with plastic wheel covers (although I think the Cruze LS is still shod with plastic), instead going with standard alloys or steel wheels with some flair (Camaro LS and trucks).

    I REALLY hate the grill on this thing though.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      I hate the headlights more than the grill. The whole front end styling looks like an Anime caricature of the current Chevy corporate fascia.

      That said, I had sat in a Spark and agree that it is SURPRISINGLY roomy especially in the back seat.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I don’t know how the Beat concept won out over the Trax concept for production. Maybe this look is popular in the vehicle’s major intended market?

        I’ve been okay with most of GM’s latest exterior designs but the Spark and Encore are turn-offs.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        The entire cars styling just screams “I wanna be just like Sonic!”, might as well call the Spark “Tales”.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      That is interesting that the Spark comes standard with alloy wheels while the more expensive Cruze, Camaro and numerous Chevy trucks do not.

      I prefer steel wheels on non-sports cars because they are more durable, because hubcaps are easily replaced if they get scratched and, if nothing else, to be contrarian to DUB culture. And I am a fan of the steel rims on the Camaro – they are the best looking wheels offered on the car.

      However, for many Spark buyers the faux luxury of alloy wheels may be a selling point.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      According to GM, the 2013 Sonic will no longer have standard alloy wheels, so that was a short-lived trend, if it were one.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        That’s funny. GM put a lot of press into the “alloy wheels on every level” strategy for the Sonic too.

        I remember the time I got a little impromptu showing of the ’08 Malibu by Bob Lutz himself. He was very proud of the car and pointed out some features he thought were especially important: things like the fender mounted turn signals, the door handle backlighting, and the auto-dimming mirror. I think by 2010 all those features weren’t available on any trim level.

        I’m not the biggest Lutz fan in the world, but I will say that the guy did always seem to have a passion about the products he helped create.

        FWIW, if steelies on the Sonic have some style then I won’t care much. But, I’m guessing it’ll just be plastic covers.

      • 0 avatar
        chicagoland

        I am thinking rental fleets don’t want to pay for alloys.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        It’s an absolutely standard technique among automakers: introduce a model and loudly tout its unusual refinements and features, and then quietly drop those after the first year to save on cost.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Here’s a wierd one for you – my Mom’s new Prius-V has alloy wheels, but with plastic wheel covers snapped over them! Oddest thing I have ever seen in a wheel. The top-spec Prius V Five gets different alloy wheels without the covers. I guess it is practical though, if you curb one, and she will, you can just replace the cheap plastic.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        The Prius has had aerodynamic wheel trappings since the first generation. In fact, the current Gen 2 regular Prius has full alloys hidden behind very cheap-looking, full plastic covers. I would say that probably 70% of the Priuses I see are missing at least one of them.

      • 0 avatar
        smartascii

        I asked a Toyota dealer about that, and what he said – which may even be true – is that the plasic ring around the edge of the alloys is so that if you get some curb rash while parallel parking, you just replace the $50 ring, rather than the $500 wheel. It makes a certain kind of sense, but it’s still not very pretty.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    When I first saw those headlights I thought “Ah, GM are doing what Nissan have been doing, using the shape of the headlight to split the air over the wing mirror.” But then on closer inspection… they don’t do that at all. They’re just elongated and IMHO don’t fit with the rest of the design (which actually isn’t bad at all).
    So what is the point? It looks weird, and I’ll wager that large headlight units are more expensive to manufacture than marginally bigger front wings and a bonnet. They’ll also look teeeeerrible in 6 or 7 years as they start to yellow.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      The big headlights are an example of applying to much style to such a small car.

      Heres what I’d like to know though, how would an owner replace one of the bulbs?

      • 0 avatar
        DemosCat

        THAT is a problem with a lot of new cars. For some models, you practically have to pull the engine just to change a bulb.

        In the Honda Fit you have to jack up the car, remove the tire and access a panel in the wheel well just to change a bulb.

  • avatar
    badtzmaru

    Are the seating surfaces a comfy leatherette?

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    This may be a bit snarky but could this be the slowest car of 2012?
    I didn’t know that they were going to sell the Spark in the US.
    I’d like to know whats up with the “80.5” bhp rating on wikipedia too.

    As far as styling and everything else goes, well for $13,000 whats stopping me from buying a used car from a few years back?

    The styling dosen’t fit the car itself, like many modern hatchbacks they all use pointless aggressive styling while having perfomance that would leave a Chevette behind.

    Please, whatever happened to good old honest economy car styling?

    On the plus side the wheels are nice.

  • avatar
    detlump

    It looks OK, I think I would want a bright color so people might see me better. At this price point, you have to wonder if you are better off getting a good used car that is larger, and may even get the same or similar fuel economy.

    If you live in a very urban environment, though, cars like this, the 500, etc do have advantages because of their size. I wonder how this drives with the 4-speed auto?

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Well, that’s pretty much a good argument against buying ANY new car. You could always get a much better car with 50000 miles on it for the same amount of money.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    They do seem to be selling well, but I can’t comment on how many of them are fleet sales. I live in Orlando, so there are obviously a lot of rentals running around, but at the same time, this is an area that A segment cars seem to do well in. Smart cars and iQ’s are relatively common around town and the Fiat 500 seems to be a genuine hit in this area. I don’t think I can go out without seeing one. Leafs and Volts are also starting to show up more and more.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Nice review MK. It’s almost refreshing to see a city car without the micro-car hype of the Smart or even iQ – and with a sensible price tag too.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    What is the point of car one can’t drive on the highway? It would make sense to spend $4k more and get a Corolla, Mazda3, or Focus, which can actually go on the highway.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Nobody says you “can’t” drive one on the highway. It’s just a matter of priorities.
      Four grand is not insignicant to many buyers – there’s also fuel, financing and insurance costs that are likely reduced.

    • 0 avatar

      Also, many families have multiple cars, and they don’t all have to be capable of comfortable highway cruising. My Protege5 certainly isn’t (though we’ve taken 700-mile trips in it).

      • 0 avatar
        Banger

        “Also, many families have multiple cars, and they don’t all have to be capable of comfortable highway cruising.”

        ^This.

        We have a Cube and my regular-cab Ranger. My wife’s aching for a second child in our family. My Ranger will not haul two children, but then again, I’m seldom on the open highway during my daily commuting– mostly 45 mph two-lanes and running errands in a small town of 3,000 people.

        The Spark appeals to me because I figure the Ranger’s time as a viable kid hauler is limited at this point both due to its age and my wife’s intent to add one more wee one to the family unit. I don’t want to get rid of the Ranger because I occasionally need to haul dirty, truck stuff. To that end, I’d need something cheap enough to buy with no trade-in vehicle and not a lot of cash out of pocket. And in that context, the Spark is more appealing than the cheaper Nissan Versa sedan, for sure.

        Give it a year or two on the market, and you’ll probably start seeing lightly used Sparks showing up for $7,500 or less with a lot of remaining powertrain warranty, at which point they become a pretty good buy for someone like me who needs a basic third car that’s easy to get around in and doesn’t cost a lot to fuel/insure.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        “Give it a year or two on the market, and you’ll probably start seeing lightly used Sparks showing up for $7,500 or less with a lot of remaining powertrain warranty”

        Have you checked what lightly used anythings actually sell for these days?

      • 0 avatar
        Banger

        “Have you checked what lightly used anythings actually sell for these days?”

        Yes, and I know that most lightly used vehicles are selling at nearly new prices.

        The key is to find a vehicle that is an orphan or unloved in your part of the country. I predict the folks who are buying Sparks in my neck of the woods will soon grow tired of driving such a small car in such uncrowded environs as ours, and will dump them for something larger.

        That happens a lot with new small cars around here. Example: My local Chevy dealer has a local one-owner trade-in Nissan Cube S with automatic transmission and a few other options for $13,995. Price a new one. That’s nearly $7,000 off new MSRP for a 15,000-mile, one-year old car. Like I said, unloved in our part of the country.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      You can go on the highway, it’s just not the best use case for the car. If you live in a big city, you probably spend WAY more time parking than driving on the highway, and these cars are brilliant at city parking.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Mandalorian,

      I used to drive an early 80’s Civic on the highway, and never felt out of place with it, but that WAS through much of the 90’s when cars weren’t so porky as they are these days.

      Even there, it did more than fine with 67 horses under the hood, and with the 5spd, it would not exceed 3Krpm until you got past 70mph though, and in fact was a MUCH preferable car for the long haul than my late Dad’s Citation, bar none.

      And that had much to do with much better seats than that POS Dad had, even if it cruised more effortlessly with the 2.8L V6.

      Today, I drive a Protege5, and I think it’s more than capable on the highway, though it could benefit from a 5th cog in the autobox though.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Given my prejudicially low expectations for any GM product, this seems pretty decent for what it is.

    Still, 82 horsepower? Pass. I’ll spring the extra 2k for the Sonic or go used. This, the smart, the IQ and the rest of the A-segment just don’t make sense from a value perspective in the U.S.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I would say why does it need so MUCH horsepower? We used to get by just fine with this size car 20 years ago with hp in the 60s. Reduce power and you can reduce the size and wieght of the entire drivetrain and brakes.

      This is a near perfect urban shopping trolley, though personally I would spring for the Fiat 500. But I am not on a tight budget…

      • 0 avatar
        DemosCat

        I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks cars today are way overpowered. What’s the point of an average mom-mobile being capable of matching or exceeding the performance a muscle car of the 1960’s or 1970’s? I’d rather see improved tech go into better fuel economy than even more horsepower.

  • avatar
    dash riprock

    Was visiting a friend who runs a chevy store. While in the showroom he pointed to the spark outside and asked if I wanted to take it for a drive. I looked at him and said hell no. Just no interest, not even curious about this or the IQ

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    A great looking car. This is what we need more of in the US. More cute cars and less steroid/ asshole cars.
    This car is just a 1.4 turbo engine away from greatness.

  • avatar
    cadarette

    “GM’s designers had little choice but to make the controls simple and easy to operate.”

    The NERVE of them!

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    There are drivers in Metro regions who never drive a long trip on vacations. Only ‘highway’ driving is a crowded freeway/expressway. So, no need for 300hp and ‘large car’ interiors.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I was going to say it’s the reincarnation of my xB1, but the Spark’s legroom and headroom are still less.

    However, Chevy will find a lot of takers for this cutie – nice job.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      GSlippy,

      I would agree here, as I see these around Seattle, as I do the Prius C, Fiat 500’s, Fiestas and the like ALL OVER the place. I think I also see it’s larger brother, the Sonic too.

      A through C segment cars are popular here, and it isn’t just in Seattle, but all over Puget Sound for the most part.

      I still see quite a few Protege’s, both the sedans, and the wagons so I’m still in good company there with my P5, thankfully since we don’t have rust issues to deal with here.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    We are minimalists now, not out of necessity, but by choice, and are trying to emulate the 100 things or less mode of living.

    We’re getting closer, and we’re actually happier (honestly).

    We still need two vehicles (for now), though, but I value quality over quantity now more than ever, and that means no matter how basic, a car must be reliable, durable and easy to maintain.

    I doubt the Spark will make it on at least 2 out of these 3 criteria, as few new cars today would.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    nice car!
    Nice price!

  • avatar
    potatobreath

    It’s like a modernized rendition of my first-gen Nissan Micra with real crumple zones, airbags and galvanized sheet metal! I remember my old 1.2 L four-cylinder Micra with all of 62 hp fed through an air-cooled 3-speed automatic transmission. 84 hp out of a modern mill seems impressive.

  • avatar
    Mr Nosy

    I’m most perplexed as to why Chevy designed a car with so much rear seat leg room, in a car sized(and powered)where rear seating is probably going to be occasional,at best.I’m hopeful those headlight blisters,after being lanced,will heal normally.Lastly(I realize car designers have unwieldy student loans,but still.)the detail on Chevys that remains the most subliminally unappealing,no matter how improved the rest of the design may(or not)be,is GM’s continued use of that cheap gold color & finishing adorning Chevrolet’s bowtie logo.Throughout the whole range,it makes all their vehicles look as if they are being cross promoted with QVC.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      There are plenty of two seater small cars pretending to be 4 seaters (the Ford Fiesta and Focus come to mind.) Heck, the Ford Taurus even has a dismally small back seat. I like how GM made the Spark actually have a usable back seat.

      I ended up buying a Kia Soul because it was the only small, inexpensive car that accommodated my 6′ 4″ boys while I drove in the front seat in a comfortable position.

    • 0 avatar
      ZekeToronto

      Hear, hear … enough with the tacky, brassy bowties!

    • 0 avatar
      heyfred3000

      In most of the markets where it has been selling for 3 years, the Spark is a family-sized car for the blue-collar class. It needs to actually seat 4 adults reasonably to make it in the market. And by the way, there only the top-line comes with the 1.2L 82 hp motor, the lower two lines have 1.0L 68 hp – and you still see them rocking along on the autostrada/autobahn/autopista highways with their 130kph (80+ mph) speed limits, keeping up with traffic.

  • avatar
    shaker

    As goofy as this looks, it’s a lot better than the last Aveo iteration – it’s coherent (enough) to grow on you.

    The lack of a huge center console is always a plus for me – if my Elantra were a 2004 (instead of a 2008) I would consider one of these.

    Even the Sonic has less integrated styling than this one – I fear that Chevy will need to hype the “Made in America” aspect of the Sonic to sway some buyers away from this car, which is a true “eco-wagon”.

    The “Jalepeno” color actually suits this little box quite well.

    Too bad that the Spark EV is destined to be a “CCC” (California Compliance Car” – it would be worth a drive.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    A great review of this car. I think I’ve seen a few of these in Seattle, along with the larger Sonic.

    I like the general looks of both cars. Both have a more useful shape than the Fiat 500 since its backside is more upright, making it a great car for hauling things, but as you say, the Spark is more for city driving than anything else.

    Even though the Fiat 500 is also an A segment car, it is built to handle longer trips, unlike this little guy. That being said, it has a lot going for it, though from the sounds of things, it could be a bit more fun to drive, though it sounds like it could be MUCH worse, like a super boring Yota.

    I don’t mind the front grill, and yes, it’s classic modern Chevy here, but it works fairly well and does not have a too aggressive of one, compared to some other cars currently being sold.

    I would like a CD player in mine for the occasional CD but I am now playing all my oft played CD’s that I keep in the car via a thumb drive, so would prefer the HU have the USB port for that – and BT too.

    I had to upgrade the HU in my Protege5 to an aftermarket JVC double din HU that had BT, USB and Aux, and it only set me back $250 via Crutchfield’s last spring.

    I remember back in the day when 67HP in a Honda Civic meant very spirited driving, though not fast by any means, but still quite brisk for the day.

    Though to be honest, if I were considering either the Spark or the Sonic, I’d take the larger Sonic because it is more highway oriented, as it’d bee my only car, just like my Protege is now.

  • avatar
    daviel

    I like it. It’s like a practical Fiat. I hope GM sells a ton of them.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Nissan’s website says that a Versa 1.6S comes with A/C and destination costs $11,770. That’s for a larger four door sedan with the same curb weight as a base Spark and 33% more power. $1,225 savings up front at a cost of only 1 mpg for a MUCH better performing, roomier car that doesn’t require justification when you show up in one. The price comparisons in the article appear erroneous, as do comparisons with the Mazda2’s performance. The Mazda2 is a GTI compared to this car, weighing less and having 20% more power. The 0-60 difference is close to 2 seconds in the Mazda’s favor.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Although you don’t get the aluminum wheels or power windows with the Versa 1.6S, you do get a CD player. Also, the Versa is supposedly only 8 lbs heavier than the Spark (2345 vs 2337). With the added power, the Versa should be a whole lot easier to live with on the highway.

      Don’t know how much worse the driving experience might be (none of the reviews I’ve seen seem to like the Versa 1.6S very much), but if I didn’t need the extra space a hatchback offers and did more highway than city driving, I think I’d opt for the $1225 savings and get the larger B-segment Nissan cheapie instead of the A-segment Spark (especially if it’s true that GM is switching to steel wheels on all future Sparks).

      But for city driving, the Spark would definitely be a better choice than the more stylish (but less practical) Fiat 500 or Scion iQ.

      • 0 avatar
        Disaster

        The Versa gets knocked for it’s poor ride, noise and cheap interior components. The Spark has a nicer interior, less noise, but I can’t imagine the ride is better (with the shorter wheelbase.) Reviewers have been pretty tough on the new Yaris as well…another choice in this price range with similar mileage but more size.

        It seems, moving to an A or B class car is about knowingly giving up size to get better city performance…ie. parking, fuel mileage. You do give up space and highway mileage (because of the boxiness.)

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      I just don’t get these tiny city cars, either. I grant that tiny cars may have their advantages in Tokyo, London and a few other extermely dense cities, but in North America a larger, roomier car like the Versa is surely preferable to these things.

      Smarts, Scion IQs and this thing may make sense elsewhere, but I don’t understand their appeal here.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    I’m all for maximizing consumer choice, and city cars have always been one of the key car types missing from the US market, so it’s nice to see manufacturers finally offering some of their smallest cars here for the people that want that sort of thing. However, that has to be the ugliest, most over-styled front end on the market right now.

    I really wonder if GM did this specifically to make the Sonic look like a masterfully sculpted design classic in comparison. Whoever thought it would be a great idea to take the front clip of a mid-size Malibu and graft it, unchanged, onto the body of something smaller than a subcompact seriously needs an eye exam.

    • 0 avatar
      4LiterLexus

      I agree with you about the styling of the front clip, which looks way, way out of proportion. If I had to buy a tiny car new, I’d spring for a stripped Fiat 500. Yeah, the Fiat is cuter than I’d like, but at least its styling is tidy and stylish.

      I also wish GM could badge this misshapen little critter as a Geo, since there’s nothing recognizably “Chevy” about it, IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      The best description I’ve seen (so far) of the Spark’s front end is that it looks like a ‘startled squirrel’.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    As usual, Canadians are getting shafted on pricing. As tested ours would be $16,145 (excluding taxes). And we don’t get TPMS (N/A) or A/C ($1,150) standard and our destination is twice of what Americans are paying. And that with our dollar being above par.

  • avatar
    Magnusmaster

    The Spark is a very nice car, but why did they ruin the front grille? The original one was way better. Chevy seems to be hit or miss with their designs. They’re either very good (Spark, Cruze), almost good except for a few details (Sonic, the upcoming Onix, maybe Agile) or just plain horrible (Cobalt, Spin, Aveo, the facelifted Captiva, the recent concepts from Detroit). They need to make a new front grille to beat like a dead horse, pronto.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Not to forget, but back in 2007, this car (the Beat) was one of 3 concepts along with the “Trax” and “Groove” that consumers actually “voted” on via the Internet:

    http://green.autoblog.com/2007/04/08/beat-groove-or-trax-gm-wants-you-to-vote-for-your-fave-minicar/

    And the “Beat” won (irony?), and became the “Spark” that you see here (with some tweaking, but they kept the eye-searing “Jalepeno” color).

    So, blame the Internetz…

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    TTATPT: The truth about tea party trolls. Good luck with Bachmann, Cain and Perry.

  • avatar
    sketch447

    A nice review. TTAC deserves credit for giving this vehicle the significance it deserves.

    Another poster here is correct: anything “lightly used” nowadays is heavily priced. The Spark is a great alternative to a lightly used Civic (assuming that even exists anymore).

    And the Spark is selling, and selling quite well. I’ve seen one on the highway. It looks bigger than it is. GM used many visual tricks to give it a size illusion. It looks more like a cool Mars lander than a tiny econobox.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    There’s a surprising amount of these rolling in urban areas in Korea.

    Personally, pink is the only color of these I would drive. There’s nothing that says “this is obviously not my car” than a pink Spark.

  • avatar
    heyfred3000

    I was surprised this summer at how many Sparks have suddenly appeared in Italy. It didn’t sell well until the Matiz went away last year (that’s one beside me), but seems to have really exploded for Chevrolet now. It didn’t come with an automatic available there (my father in law now has a bad leg), but I’m going to check back at Christmas to see if they’ve changed their minds at the corporate offices about that. They added an automatic to the Cruze last year (though still left the 163 hp 270 ft.lb. turbodiesel as the only motor for the top liine), after all.

  • avatar
    jasjls2003

    I bought the Spark in November 2012. Have had it about 6 months. I LOVE IT!!!!! I loved the look from the beginning. The only I wasn’t crazy about, I wanted the blue one, but my dealership only had 1 blue & it was stick shift. I don’t drive stick! But I chose the red. I have nothing bad to say about this car. I can fit quite a bit of groceries in the hatch back. You just have to be a little more creative and pack them carefully. I will be buying another one someday when mine gives out or I get it paid off. Next time, I will get blue no matter what. Thanks Chevy for making a cute little car for those of us who like the little cars better. Also, I love that I can fill it up for $25 with gas prices around me at $3.85/gal!


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