By on January 20, 2015

MemphisToLA 007

How the mighty have fallen. I don’t mean General Motors, which once literally made the earth tremble from its world-war-winning industrial prowess but which has now effectively given up on the idea of engineering a small car in the United States. Nor do I mean Gibson Guitar, operator of the Beale Street Custom Shop pictured above, which has struggled to effectively counter an exceptionally negative media and web-forum general opinion of its heavily-revised 2015 lineup.

I just mean me, myself, and I, that sort of thing.

MemphisToLA 009

Experienced TTAC readers will remember this photo location from another of your humble author’s long-distance road tests, namely Fleetwood Talisman Part Two. It goes without saying that the Talisman, a Detroit-engineered behemoth from the Cretaceous Era of GM full-sizers, was at home on the American highway, and I found that it made the trip from Nashville to Memphis with diffident ease. I remember the trip fondly, not least because I never drove that stretch of road again.

As fate would have it, however, last week I found myself once again making plans to drive from Nashville to Memphis via Franklin, TN. I’d managed to get an interview for an upcoming R&T feature scheduled for the morning after the closure of the Detroit Auto Show. Just getting from Allen Park, MI to home then to the Columbus airport in time required no small amount of luck, not least because I spent over an hour doing some guitar shopping at a pawnshop on 8 Mile before heading south. When I landed at BNA, however, I knew my luck had run out. My naive decision to select “Manager’s Choice” on my Hertz rental reservation form meant that the manager of the Nashville Airport Hertz could make the “choice” to screw me over by giving me a Chevy Spark for a 450-mile highway roadtrip.

My first impression of the Spark was: it looks like a toad that’s in the process of being vertically squished by transparent Lexan panels. My second impression was more positive: it’s possible for, ahem, full-sized people to actually fit in the thing comfortably. Like the one-class-up Honda Fit and like pretty much every other car globally in the sub-sub-compact segment, the Spark creates space by having the passengers sit upright. That’s how you get this much space in something that isn’t much wider or taller than a 1979 Civic. The seating position combines with the relatively low door glass to create a surprisingly CUV-like perspective on the world. The FR-S or Miata driver next to you seems to be sitting a foot lower than you are, and the Camry driver’s at a lesser but not entirely nonexistent disadvantage.

MemphisToLA 010

As a result of the unusual proportions, the Spark drives very differently from a traditional subcompact. You’re sitting very close to the front wheels without even the suggestion of a bonnet ahead, and the paper-thin doors have virtually no tumblehome whatsoever. The net effect is a sensation of being in a driving simulator, since there’s obviously not much car around you. For most of the developed world, the “supermini” and its box-on-wheels proportioning is old news, but here in the United States the Spark is still new enough to, uh, shock.

With a few exceptions, a Spark with its rear seats up should be able to hold everything you’re allowed to carry onto an airliner. The cargo area is wide and tall but not deep. The passenger space in those rear seats is fine for smaller people or shorter distances, though I cannot “sit behind myself” with any comfort. One minor bit of admirable packaging is the cupholder molded into what would be the center rear seat of a wider automobile.

MemphisToLA 013

The “motorcycle” instrument cluster is cheap-looking enough to be at home in any Nineties Suzuki bike, but the LCD screen packs a remarkable amount of information that includes what in a Spark is a very important piece of information: distance to empty. The fuel tank is just 9.2 gallons, making fillups frequent.

Those fillups will be more frequent than you’d expect if your Spark-enabled travel plans include a freeway. I-40 between Nashville and Memphis is reasonably hilly and speeds of 80-85mph are common. It’s fair to say that with just 84 horsepower to push approximately 2300 pounds, the Spark doesn’t shine here. However, the new-for-last-year CVT helps quite a bit. Acceleration to freeway speeds is safely adequate, with a quarter-mile in the eighteen-second range. The little Chevrolet’s aerodynamic profile doesn’t help here, though there is surprisingly little wind noise at speed given the barn-door shape of the thing. Nor is fuel economy particularly spectacular in real-world usage; I obtained a rough 33mpg overall on a trip that was eighty percent freeway driving.

Compared to the Aveo I drove five years ago, the Spark might well have been an S-Class in its highway demeanor even though it’s from the size class below. I didn’t push the needle above 85mph but it seemed like there was a little bit of power left even at that speed. Around town, the CVT enables a surprising amount of low-end shove. It’s possible to compete with some pickups trucks and four-cylinder economy cars from stoplight to stoplight, although something like a modern Ecoboost Fiesta will whip the Spark six ways to Sunday in that situation.

MemphisToLA 023

LT Sparks get this snazzy radio-and-Bluetooth media center that most emphatically does not have a CD player. If you’re coming to this from an Audi S8 or a Burmester-equipped Porsche, you’ll be horrified by the sound quality, but if you’ve been driving an old Pontiac around you’ll be thrilled. Given that Spark customers are more likely doing the latter, this is fine. With that said, the system isn’t really loud enough to cover up the wind and road noise, particularly above 70mph. Used as a speakerphone, the sound system is better at speaking than listening. I found myself switching to my handset more often during drives than I would in, say, a Camry.

I can’t believe that we’ve gotten all the way to the end of this review without mentioning handling. It’s okay. There you go. A Fiesta or Mazda2 is far better to drive than this Spark will ever be, for the same reason the Spark whips them on interior space: packaging. With a center of gravity this high, on 155/55R15 wheels, there’s just too much potential tipover for pushing the limit to ever seem like a good idea. Encouraged by a fellow racer around a long on-ramp in Memphis, I experimented with trail-braking and lift-throttle oversteer.

Kids, just don’t do it.

The ECS intervenes early and often in the Spark. That’s for a good reason: keeping the roof off the ground. I’d be slightly worried about any genuine evasive maneuvers at freeway speeds, honestly. It’s best to drive the Spark the way you’d drive a Jeep Wrangler: with plenty of room around you at all times. The brakes,

If you don’t care about handling or power, the Spark delivers something much closer to a “real car” experience than the more conventional entries in the class. While I haven’t driven this car back to back with a Mirage, it’s my belief that the Spark is simply superior as a real-world operational proposition. There’s more room, a better driving position, and enough NVH control to make it livable.

Price as tested was $15,920. You can’t get this much equipment — the Spark includes power locks and cruise control in this trim — for this much money anywhere else. While I’d personally rather have a Hyundai Accent with less equipment, or even the mythical slightly-used-Civic-going-for-75-percent-of-original-MSRP that the Internet recommends to all car shoppers without ten million dollars saved for early retirement, the Spark is more than fit for purpose. Even if that purpose includes occasional freeway driving. It’s no Cadillac, to be sure, but neither is it a Chevette.

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111 Comments on “Review: 2015 Chevrolet Spark LT...”


  • avatar
    dbar1

    Wow, 33 RWMPG AVERAGE!?!? With you hooning it down the highway at 80-85MPH? Thats impressive. Considering its not really meant for long range trips and that you had GOOD THINGS TO SAY ABOUT IT are nuts.

    I’d would still step up to the Sonic for a measly 2k as its assembled in Michigan and is 1000000x more hoonible and refined.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Yup, thank god it isn’t a Shove-it (Chevette.) If it was a Chevette all your references would have been along the lines of the Spark being akin to a four door Sears Craftsman riding mower. (At least that’s what my Grandmother’s Chevette always made me think of.)

  • avatar
    dbar1

    3k RPM at 73 MPH in the picture…not bad. Does the engine seem willing to rev? Or is it complaining all the way up to redline?

  • avatar
    jsixpack

    it looks like a sentence got chopped off:
    It’s best to drive the Spark the way you’d drive a Jeep Wrangler: with plenty of room around you at all times. The brakes,

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I was surprised by how much room I found in this too. I would wager I’m quite a bit more “wide track” than Jack, and didn’t feel cramped.

    But I can’t abide by the styling. I’d be in a used Fiesta.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The issue with the Fiesta is that it’s much more cramped, especially in the rear.

      Chevy did a good job here. The problem is that they did a good job on the Sonic, too, and the Spark isn’t cheap enough to recommend itself.

      Also, they discontinued “Haters gotta Hate” pink. :(

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        If all I needed was a “city car,” I’d consider a Spark.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Agreed on the Sonic. I get that the Spark is a city car, but how small does a city car really have to be to be effective? And where would that logic end? A motorcycle? A bicycle? Why bother when there is often public transit in cities?

        I think a Sonic is small enough to be a city car, while being a more livable all-rounder. I’m not sure how much difference there is between the two in average transaction price, but it seems like the Sonic would be worth the stretch.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Well, it’s still hideous, but I’m glad to find it’s not completely terrible.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “mythical slightly-used-Civic-going-for-75-percent-of-original-MSRP that the Internet recommends to all car shoppers without ten million dollars saved for early retirement”

    Ha, my favorite part. MSN loves those kinds of articles.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    Someone in my complex has one of these. Personally I’d rather walk.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    Lower the center of gravity, give it 130 HP and it is transformed into a sleeper slot car. That’s the Spark EV – my ride. A sparkling little car with all the virtues listed above, plus quiet, speed and handling. With a face, profile and back end only its mother could love, I quite like it. (Only California and Oregon residents need apply.)

    • 0 avatar
      natebrau

      ++

      Yes- I’ve found exactly the same thing. Good news if you’re a fellow Californian- the State extended the deadline for single-occupancy HOV lane access until Jan 1, 2019.
      http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/carpool/carpool.htm

      For the record, I fit all three of my children plus myself in the SparkEV without problems. The interior is surprisingly well laid out.

    • 0 avatar
      This Is Dawg

      I think it looks a lil better in EV form. That sounds entertaining.

      (Taken from Chevy’s website)”The 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV

      It’s an electric vehicle in more ways than one. It’s science and art and smarts in one well-crafted package. Show the world that what fuels you and your vehicle is something different.”

      So…… it’s a Cadillac?

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Rented one once a while back.

    The word to remember is “once”.

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      My wife went to the Hertz counter, I collected the bags. Divide and conquer. We went out to the assigned parking space, and in it, a Spark.

      I laughed all the way to our daughter’s place.

      She was waiting in the drive for us arrive, on the phone…

      “They’re supposed to be here any second. Wait. Here comes a POS, that’s not them. Ohmygod, it’s them! Wait, don’t get out, I gotta get a picture of this.”

      My wife returned the car the next day. It’s that embarrassing and bad.

      • 0 avatar
        This Is Dawg

        Hilarious. I’ve been in a sonata rental for two weeks and my friends don’t even see me pull up when we meet. I feel invisible in this thing, but at least I’ve only been laughed at when I remote lock it and the tone sounds like the world’s smallest squeaky toy.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This isn’t really a bad car, it’s just stuck with the same limits as the rest of it’s class.

    And compared to the rest of the class (Fiat 500, Toyota iQ, Smart Fortwo) it’s a very, very good car: you get real space for four people and a ride that, for a car with this wheelbase, is pretty good.

    One legit complaint: I haven’t driven the CVT; I have tried manual and it’s pretty nasty. Longish throws and kind of rubbery.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      I don’t get this: a decent manual transmission is the difference between a good write-ups and a bad write-up in the press. See, Fiesta Ecoboost. So what if 88% of purchasers go for the automatic?

      The engineering principles that account for a pleasurable manual transmission must be well understood. So they might as well do it right, right?

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        It is indeed very sad when a manufacturer goes to the trouble of offering a manual, but not a decent one.

        In this case, I assume the manual is a penny-pinching feature. In other cars with a reputation for a frustrating manual transmission (Verano), I can only guess that product planners thought it was a good idea, but there wasn’t enough money in the project to put a good one in.

        I’m undec1ded on which hurts prospects for future manual offerings more; not offering one at all, or offering a bad one. Manuals are on borrowed time anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          In the rest of the world where this car is sold, very few of them are likely to be automatics. So there REALLY is no reason to phone that in. US sales of these cars are an afterthought.

          Obviously I would much prefer a base Fiat 500 to this car. In one of the retro-cool pastel colors preferably, with the off-white interior bits, and chrome dog dishes. So achingly cool.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “The engineering principles that account for a pleasurable manual transmission must be well understood. So they might as well do it right, right?”

        It’s relatively expensive to make a nice, direct-linkage shifter. It is very cheap to make one that feels like it’s operated by cooked spaghetti.

        And unlike Honda, GM doesn’t have a very good parts-bin transmission linkage that will work with a wide slice of their lineup.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Great review! You’ve reviewed it from the perspective of what it is, cheap and cheerful (very) basic transportation. In there past at TTAC some reviewers used review metrics that didn’t match what the vehicle was trying to be.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I think Jack has always been good at reviewing cars in the appropriate context. Looks like he managed to do it again with the Spark, despite having to use the car for something it wasn’t really designed for.

    • 0 avatar
      This Is Dawg

      F minus minus! Not only can this car not tow my 30 foot RV, it also can’t beat a single Porsche at a green light! Interior space is less than an Avalon I once looked at, and it corners far more sloppily than my C6 Corvette on Gran Turismo!

      I can’t believe this horrible review, I come here for the TRUTH, not some GM feel good hugfest!

      /s

  • avatar
    caltemus

    “It’s best to drive the Spark the way you’d drive a Jeep Wrangler: with plenty of room around you at all times. The brakes,”

    What about the brakes?

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    “The cargo area is wide and tall but not deep.”
    Does the Spark’s cargo area have a false floor? I recall that my rental Sonic had a false floor that can be removed to deepen the hold. (The problem then becomes where does one store that piece? I placed it in the back seat of the Sonic.)

    Edit: Upon further review, it seems that JB is referring to a different kind of ‘depth.’

  • avatar
    Speed3

    I see a fair number of these driving around San Francisco, and I can understand why. These things are short and can fit into tiny parking spots (often the gap between two driveways that is too short for normal cars). Sure the Mini, Fiat, iQ, and Smart are also equally capable for parking in such tight quarters, but none of them have 4 doors.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    The Spark-based CUV platform mates of these are now shipping to Cadillac Dealers (it’s called the CT-1, or known internally at GM as the CT-Lee, is available in “Versace” & Nürburgring trim levels, & is being co-branded with Hermes:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_Urban_Luxury_Concept

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-09-25/what-i-wear-to-work-cadillacs-melody-lee

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    I never did like the tall stance of the GM (ahem, *Daewoo*) cheapies, going back to the overall goofiness/awkwardness of the Aveo.

    33 mpg highway. Smh. Jesus. Completely lackluster.

    This is the very definition of a penalty box.

    CVT is probably a big help, though. If I think hard enough, I can still remember my ex-wife’s ’07 Aveo struggling to shift into its highest gear as I would merge onto the highway. The colder the weather, the longer it would take to find that gear.

    And I shudder at the very thought of the quality of materials used in this Spark’s interior.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “33 mpg highway. Smh. Jesus. Completely lackluster.”

      It’s a city car, what do you expect?

      Or to flip this around: what’s the city mileage of a Chevy Impala Classic?

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        A friend of mine who lives in Baltimore, and drives out of the city every day for work on the Interstate, is reporting 40 mpg in his new Mirage.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          Here’s the EPA ratings (city, highway, combined)

          Spark CVT: 28/38/32
          Spark 5MT: 32/37/34

          Mirage CVT: 34/44/40
          Mirage 5MT: 37/42/37

          Just for fun, here’s CR’s (city/hwy/overall)

          Spark CVT: 22/39/31
          Mirage CVT: 28/47/37

          This is about what you’d expect: the Spark is really ill-suited to reducing drag; those highway figures are easily beaten by more slippery cars. It’s also about three hundred pounds heavier than the Mitsubishi.

          That said, I’d forgotten about the Mirage (and can’t find any info on the Micra’s economy). From what I recall, the Mirage is smaller inside and rides more like a small car than the Spark. It’s also more “Penalty box” and less “Funky” in it’s aesthetics.

          ETA: the Spark is also a half-foot shorter and very slightly narrower than the Mirage. I’m surprised by that; I thought it was bigger, having been in both.

      • 0 avatar
        jrhmobile

        Yeah, but you’ve got to consider that JB was clockin’ 80-85 on the interstate in a decidedly unaerodynamic econobox with a CVT. Back that off 10 mph and I’d bet you’d be doing a lot better on the MPGs.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Finally a review that does not compare a small, inexpensive car to one costing twice or three times as much!

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    This was funny in the way DeMuro seems to try and fail to be. Was that mean?

    Anyways, interesting review. I’m not quite sure this is how I would want to spend $15K. The value of a car’s newness diminishes as you go down in MSRP. My 6 year old Civic feels brand new to me and feels 10+ years newer than my 11 year old 350Z. Mainstream cars seemed to make a huge step forward in design, particularly interiors, around 2006-2009. There’s really no need to suffer like this.

  • avatar
    missmySE-R

    Jack,

    Hope you rewarded yourself with some Gus’s world famous fried chicken after making that drive in a car not all that well suited (or designed) for sustained highway travel.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. Orange

      If you want the REAL Gus’s world famous chicken you need to drive due northeast on HWY 70 until you reach a little town called Mason. Its the first yellow shack on the right when you enter town. Now that’s where it all started.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Okay, I see what they are going at here (cheap and cheerful), and it appears they have achieved it. But $16k for this? I’m not totally in-touch with this market, but is that the norm these days for a “I can’t really afford a new car, but I CAN’T drive used” auto?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Bling in a small car will bring the price up, if you’re gonna go cheap, then go cheap all the way. Otherwise get used or a base compact.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “Price as tested was $15,920”

    Next up, slightly used real cars for $15,920. Maybe Flybrian can help us here

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      How “slightly” does it have to be?

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        If this were Jalopnik the article would read:

        “For the price of a Chevy Sonic you could buy this slightly used Rollys Royce Corniche that has its ad in caps lock for no reason and we cannot make short headlines at all”.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Yeah, that was the concept I was shooting for

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          HAHAHAHAH

          Hilarious. That site is just a joke – recommending some used 2007 AMG S-Class for a “good value” for $15k because it costs so much less now than it did new.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            That’s why I gave some real world car examples below

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            $15K is just the 50% down payment. Expect another $15K over the course of ownership. Edmunds had a long-term AMG that required, IIRC, over $2000 for a bad coil.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            The huge cost for a bad coil happened to Clarkson on Top Gear as well. It was a CL600, and if I remember right, all the coils for each cylinder bank were sold assembled into one-piece; you couldn’t replace one cylinder at a time.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Its a site that lives off cheap writing and cheap clickbait.

            For $15k I’s seriously consider a clean W-Body Impala.

            It’d be cool to see a more rational variant of the “You can buy a Lamborghini Diablo SV for the price of a Dodge Caravan” formula.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        2014 Kia Optima LX

        http://www.millenniumauto.us/2014-Kia-Optima-LX-Chicago-Illinois-60641/5356526

        2014 Fusion SE

        http://www.bahaauto.com/2014-Ford-Fusion/Used-Car/Chicago%2cBurbank-IL/5416213/Details.aspx

        2014 Impala LT

        http://www.cargurus.com/Cars/inventorylisting/viewDetailsFilterViewInventoryListing.action?sourceContext=carGurusHomePage_false_0&newSearchFromOverviewPage=true&inventorySearchWidgetType=AUTO&entitySelectingHelper.selectedEntity=&entitySelectingHelper.selectedEntity2=&zip=53115&distance=MILES_100&searchChanged=true&modelChanged=true&filtersModified=true#listing=105304036

        All under $16K

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          We bought the exact category of car you have posted above. Unless you need/inexplicably want a teeny little city car new, the used market provides so much more.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Used 2009-2012 Fusion/MKZ.

      There, I saved everyone from having to buy a Spark.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I was thinking Avalon. You can get a very tidy 09 with leather for 15.

        Or an 08 RL with 57K, black over tan.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Now who’s playing Jalopnik used car roulette? I offered-up some decent slightly used cars as basic transportation for someone who’s cons1dering a $15K Spark

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Hey man, neither of those options have any ridiculousness to break. They’re just nice and large!

            Nothing like some AMG or a Corniche.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The Fusion/MKZ is just my used go to for someone looking for a good value on a used car. They’ll have higher initial depreciation than their Japanese competitors, and they are pretty darn reliable. 28 is onboard with this line of thinking as well. The MKZ also has an AWD option.

          I also think the last gen Malibu is a decent used option. Especially one with the High Feature (3.6L)V6.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “I also think the last gen Malibu is a decent used option. Especially one with the High Feature (3.6L)V6.”

            One of the most underrated sedans I’ve ever rented. Great car, much to my surprise

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Heh.

      For $15.9 you can own this 1999 Porsche 911

      http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/cto/4853287247.html

      Here is this 2005 Land Rover

      http://seattle.craigslist.org/est/cto/4828384186.html

      Here is a 2003 E55 AMG Mercedes

      http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/cto/4845011954.html

      Maybe a 2003 BMW M3

      http://seattle.craigslist.org/sno/cto/4853037311.html

      What could possibly go wrong with this 2005 Jaguar XJ VSP

      http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/ctd/4820450969.html

      You could save some money on this 2004 Acura TL with 80,000 miles on the odometer that automatic transmission has the grenade pin pulled

      http://seattle.craigslist.org/tac/ctd/4821892263.html

      Or for just $1,000 more you could own this nice 1998 Bentley

      http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/ctd/4834256652.html

      Lots of great used car choices in this price range ;-)

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That Bentley is EXACTLY what I like. It’s a rare Turbo + Red Label (I think that was a trim maybe) + L for LWB. I would feel so good driving around in that.

        Some day! I feel like though parts would be ridic-balls, they can’t be THAT complex to work on.

        • 0 avatar
          baconator

          Yeah, I’m tempted by that sucker. The pre-VW Bentleys don’t have crazy parts costs all around – the brake consumables are interchangeable with W126 Mercedes, for example.

          It’s not a Red Label, though. That was the post-VW Arnage with the pre-VW 6.75L V-8 from the earlier cars. This car is an earlier “Turbo R,” where the R means suspension that is stiffer than the Mulsanne Turbosk

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Ah ha, I knew Red Label was a special version. There was a Green Label Arnage as well then. Seems I recall one of those two had aluminum trim which I didn’t like at all.

            You never see the Mulsanne, just the Eight and the Turbo R (though the Turbo RL is very rare). Wonder why?

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Your post just makes me wonder why Jalopnik can only mention one car per an article.

        Buying a used luxury car itself can be a risky endeavor, but buying a used one off craigslist? I’d be lucky if anyone ever answers my calls!

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          “Buying a used luxury car itself can be a risky endeavor, but buying a used one off craigslist? I’d be lucky if anyone ever answers my calls!”

          Oh, they’ll answer. And for the ten bucks and a bl*wjob, you can have your own 1984 Corniche. Meet your buyer under the fourth street bridge; he’ll be wearing a stained grey hoodie.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            When they do answer they usually sound stoned, super shady people on there.

            At Dan:

            Given how expensive “real Porsches” are getting I don’t blame you for wanting a newer one. Its certainly more Porsche than the Pecan.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I’m tempted by that Porsche, and I don’t even like Porsches very much. Yeah, yeah, it’s from the time when Porsche lost it’s way…who cares, more Posrches for me.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    I was gonna say “KIA SOUL”, but then realized that the “Base” model at $16,015.00 MSRP lacks an automatic transmission….which tacks on $2K (!!!)

    Still, with 55% more HP and more space and refinement everywhere, it might be worth the extra $$$$ to many…

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    As much as I don’t like the styling on these I’m just glad that car companies are still making “proper” compacts.

    But I feel like the Sparks a little unnecessary, for about a grand more you can buy an Chevy Sonic LS (cheaper if you want the stick), while getting more power and space to work with.

    Kinda reminds me of Toyota when they made the Tercel, make a cheap as heck economy car to bring in the shoppers who’ll more than likely end up with a Corolla instead, or in this case a Chevy Sonic sedan.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I just rented one of these a couple weeks ago, from Hertz, but not an LT. I expected a free upgrade, but the girl said, “OMG, we still have a Spark available, that’s what you reserved.” Then she tried to get me to upgrade at my expense.

    I gamely took the Spark, wondering if my 83 year old aunt would be able to get in, much less fit in the front seat (she’s 5’10” and 160 lbs, but not spry at all). She had no trouble and neither did I (6’1″ 230 lbs, hernia, hemorrhoids and chronic bad knees).

    I didn’t notice the wind or road noise, because it was drowned out by the marbles-in-a-coffee-can sound of the engine. That was the only part of the review left out, and I agree with all of the rest, but engine noise was a big omission. I was fortunate to put only 180 miles on it, over half on the freeway, never over 70 in max 65 areas, and I didn’t WANT to go over 70. Since I drive a Buick LeSabre, the size and engine noise was too unnerving. The CVT was the best I’ve ever driven though.

  • avatar
    Mr. Orange

    Jack the next time your in town and your staying overnight you have to visit Earnestine & Hazel’s at the end of South Main. Please is like no other. The bartender upstairs is the man. Also the place is supposedly haunted.

  • avatar
    formula m

    With Emissions testing every two years and the potential for expensive repairs, used cars can offer a lot of unknowns. “City Cars”, become cheaper to buy new on a payment, under warranty at a lower intrest rate than something used. Based on cost/benefit a Spark LT is a pretty smart purchase. Too many people end up with a “daily rental” Dodge Charger and spend way more money over their time as owner because they started off thinking they are paying $15k.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    The picture of the HVAC controls and media center reminded me of a line from another Baruth review, something about how only GM can make a color look cheap.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Small cars like this are an absolutely value proposition. It isn’t too much of a jump in price to a Cruze/Mazda 3/Corolla/Focus/etc which is vastly better. Heck, from there it’s really not too much of a jump to a Camry/Accord/Fusion.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Yes and no – it depends on the deal you can swing.

      I got our Optima Hybrid (base model) for an even $20k, which is a vastly better car than this Spark in every way, including fuel economy. Kia was giving them away; my dealer sold six of them that day.

      On the other hand, a top-end Camry/Accord/Fusion/Optima is going to push $35-40k, and that’s another galaxy compared to the Spark.

      In fairness, you could negotiate this Spark down to $15 even or less, so those other cars become even more of a stretch.

      However, the scenario you describe is how I entered a VW dealership in 2002 looking for a Beetle, and left with a Passat, after trying the Jetta in between.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    GM should stick to making the big cars and trucks, not the small and tiny. It isn’t in their blood which may explain why Korea and China are on board to do it for them. Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Daihatsu, Ford, Suzuki, etc know the science of small.

  • avatar
    bludragon

    I rented a spark a while back. I rode around in a sonic (sedan) rental last week. I have a Versa (sedan) rental this week.

    According to truecar a Nissan Versa SV can be had for a whole $77 more than this spark. As far as I can tell it is similarly equipped. I was actually impressed by the spark’s ride quality and freeway noise levels for its size, but the Versa is in a different class and I would pay the $77 just to not have to look at that dash!

    The only purpose I can think of for this car in the US is so that Hertz can make extra by offering upgrades to something else. Either that, or you really need a car this short or with a hatch.

    EDIT: and according to truecar I can buy a similarly equipped Hyndai accent hatch for somewhere between the price of the spark and the Versa…

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    One word: Golf

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      If you could get a new Golf for $15k, I’d absolutely own one right now.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        If theres one reason to buy the Spark its that it is one of the cheapest cars currently on the market, at just $13k for the manual LS model.

        However, for $12k you can pick up a manual Nissan Versa sedan with 109hp, at least if you don’t mind a lack of any colors to choose from, appalling styling, and the feeling of depression each time you walk out to your driveway.

  • avatar
    ajla

    TTAC approved alternatives:

    http://tinyurl.com/nn2pun8

    http://tinyurl.com/ptfwxyx

    http://tinyurl.com/kexmta7

  • avatar
    CapVandal

    Before all these comparisons, the true car price is $1700 less. $14,406

    The base is $12,904 with automatic at true car.

    per true car, the base is $156/mo
    Lowest available rate for a 36 month lease and $2,843 due at signing. Excludes tax.

    Not much more than a cell phone bill.

    I don’t know how someone a few years out of college and not a car person could be expected to buy a used vehicle from a private owner, make sure it is ok, get it financed, etc.

    There were periods in my life when a car that would start in the morning and had a full tank of gas was a luxury car.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Great write up JB.

    This is one example of the disconnect on an enthusiast site. Our emotion is based on if we/I would own the car., of course not.

    But the scenario not addressed by the comments regarding buy a used car for the same dough and get a better driving experience, is financing. There are not very many first time buyer programs through a captive finance co for used cars, some CPO units perhaps, but certainly not on a craigslist special. So the difference then comes in the form of .9% for 60 months for a new, in warranty no headache ride or 4% or more through your parents bank or CU and with mom or dad kissing the paper on an out of warranty perhaps hoopty perhaps not. As a parent, I can assure you if young Jedi needed a car and the difference was me kissing the paper for a used civic or a new spark with me not involved, the new spark wins all day long.

    For what it is , this an acceptable car.

  • avatar
    KrohmDohm

    I test drove this 1 1/2 years ago. Went with the Hyundai Elantra GT instead. Only $2k more than the spark and it’s much more comfortable car with far better highway mileage.

  • avatar
    EspritdeFacelVega

    87 Morgan is spot on. Financing a critical component for young first-time buyers, parents etc. Also, given the lack of car knowledge of many of newest crop of young drivers (by no means just girls, as was mostly the case in my youth), as a parent I’d undoubtedly lean towards a new Spark over a former-rental 2009 Fusion on whatever else $15k will dig up (although $15k will get junior a wicked used Grand Marquis, probably a “Suncoast Edition” with the gold package, a green landau top and 10k very slow miles on it. Cool!). For myself, $15k unlocks a world of opportunity. But for our kids, well, other considerations come into play.

    About the car. C’mon guys, the Spark isn’t bad at all. We get few cars in this class over here, so I’m glad GM is giving us the option. Having said that, I’d get junior that extremely cool “57” edition Fiat 500. Cheap and cheery (Clarkson’s wrong).

  • avatar

    I have spent much time in several Spark rentals and they are decent. They do feel surprisingly solid and well made, and are excellent little city cars. The tall, skinny, bug-eyed looks are somewhat bizarre, but overall it’s a good car. Even on the freeway, they seemed pretty confident, but I do agree (and had a laugh) at the “driving simulator” vibe since there’s not much metal surrounding the driver.

    However, I wouldn’t buy one and would much prefer a Mitsubishi Mirage if looking for bargain basement transport. Why? The Spark does not have a spare tire, which can turn into a dangerous situation in a remote area with cell phone reception. At the very least it’s a major inconvenience if the sidewall is punctured. Secondly, it only sits four. Although it’d only be for short trips, at least the Mirage has five belts, just in case. And lastly, the Spark does not have a CD player. That alienates any of us without an iPod.

    That being said, I did read the review of the Aveo from six years ago that was linked on here. I found it to be very unjust. You’re welcome to revoke my car fanatic card away, but honestly, the Aveo wasn’t that bad. I owned one back in 2004 and drove it a total of 30k miles, and enjoyed it. My husband currently has an ’08 Aveo which we’ve driven cross country, and although no luxury or sports car, it was just fine for those long freeway expanses. I still don’t understand the continual Aveo hate out there.

    Heck, I actually prefer my husband’s Aveo over my 2015 Honda Fit. The Fit has been nothing but trouble and has had so many quality issues in only a few months of ownership. By comparision, the Aveo has been perfectly reliable in 83k miles. It’s been a roomy, comfy car, and the driving experience is no worse than a Yaris or Versa

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