Spark 1.2 LT 5-door
the performance or handling
that is going to impress customers in
this segment; it is visual appeal,
brand value, interior space, low
running costs and value for money.
about ticks all of those boxes...
THE CHEVROLET SPARK city car is a replacement for the old GM Daewoo/Chevrolet
Matiz which sold purely on price. The new Spark is a truly global car; it will
not just sell in Europe or in its home Korean market but will be sold and built
around the world.
In the UK around 7,000 Sparks will be sold this year 9,000 in a full
year of sales. Prices range from £6,945 to £9,845 and already Chevrolet says
they have over 1,200 forward sold orders.
There is the choice of two petrol engines, both DOHC four-cylinder units, and
sales are expected to be split 50:50 between the 1.0 (67bhp) and 1.2-litre (80bhp)
options. No automatic transmission option is available yet but watch this space.
The smallest engine comes with a choice of Spark, Spark+ and LS levels of specification.
The 1.2 unit also has three choices: LS, LS+ and LT. The all-important electronic
handling stability control is standard on 1.2-litre models and an option with
the 1.0-litre versions, hence the reason the range achieved a four rather than
a five star EuroNCAP safety rating.
The Spark will sell against such competitors as the sector's best-selling Hyundai
i10, the Fiat Panda and Toyota Aygo but because of the space it offers it will
also cross swords with the Ford Fiesta, MINI, Vauxhall Corsa, VW Polo and even
the Honda Jazz.
The Spark should appeal to young buyers by virtue of its distinctive styling
while older singles or couples will appreciate the car's parking-friendly exterior
size. All will appreciate the low running costs (insurance group ratings from
1 to 6 on the new 50 scale) and the zero-cost First Year road tax (£30 a year
for the second VED year onwards).
Tall, compact in length and edgy styling lines are the Spark's attention grabbers
in the showroom. Open the passenger doors and an impressive interior space is
revealed it really is quite remarkable just how much front and rear legroom
has been achieved in a car only 3,640mm in length. The rear seats have three
seatbelts but in reality only two adult passengers can be fitted in the car
but even so my rear seat adult guests were impressed by just how much legroom
they had. Being a tall vehicle (1,522mm), the Spark has plenty of headroom even
downside is a small boot, just 170 litres but fold the 60:40 split rear
seats down and this expands to 568 litres so choose the size of your luggage
(or dog) with care.
The 1.2-litre I tried,
whilst not in any way
fast, at least gave me
confidence that it will
cope with day-to-day
level of specification appeals will be down to budget and the mid-range LS is
likely to be the most popular although older customers with perhaps more money
to spend who want a commuter car for short journeys and shopping trips will
go for the LT version.
entry-level Spark is offered with a 1.0-litre engine developing 67bhp coupled
to a five-speed manual gearbox. It comes with six airbags as standard but at
just £6,945 you get what you pay for. All versions have a three-year mechanical
breakdown cover warranty. Models in Spark+ trim (also available with the 1.0-litre
engine) come with air conditioning, electric front windows and central locking
along plus a USB-compatible four-speaker stereo.
The LS, which is expected to be the most popular trim level, adds remote central
locking, silver trim detailing, a sunglasses holder, 14-inch wheels, body-coloured
door handles and mirrors, a chrome-effect grille surround, front fog lamps and
a body-coloured rear spoiler.
For £500 more than the 1.2 LS, customers can add a plus pack: the LS+ gets smart
alloy wheels, electric windows front and rear, a trip computer, heated electric
door mirrors, roof bars and steering wheel audio controls.
The range-topping LT, which comes only with the 1.2-litre engine, has 15-inch
alloys, climate control, interior detailing to match the exterior (depending
on colour), an exterior body kit and a six-speaker stereo. For me this is the
best package but it costs a hefty £9,845. A similar top-spec Hyundai i10 with
a five-year unlimited mileage warranty costs over £1,000 less. However it is
a buyer's market and deals can, and will, be done.
I haven't driven the 1.0-litre version of the Spark but my motoring colleagues
tell me it is slow and unresponsive with performance that is too marginal to
be happy with. The 1.2-litre I tried, whilst not in any way fast, at least gave
me confidence that it will cope with day-to-day requirements. Perhaps long motorway
trips are journeys too far for these city cars but for everyday use and an occasional
longer trip on A roads thrown in this unit is more than adequate.
has a throaty exhaust note and sounded stressed under load but although the
top speed is quoted as 102mph, 70 to 80mph seemed more likely to be its realistic
operating ceiling and 60mph was more comfortable still. The acceleration from
zero to 62mph takes a little over 12 seconds. Hills can dampen the cars responsiveness
and the high-revving engine needs to be kept on song with frequent use of the
Ride comfort was
generally good and
better than most in the
city car segment.
The steering was sharp
and precise; excellent
when parking and nimble
in town traffic...
in low speed urban crawl traffic the 1.2 unit, with 82lb ft of torque, was smooth
and capable. Officially, this engine will return 55.4mpg and my test car came
in at 48.7mpg which for a petrol unit is very good. I especially like not having
to pay road tax for a year when the car is new and then only having to pay £30
for every year after that.
comfort was generally good and better than most in the city car segment.
Being tall the vehicle rolled through corners but not to any great discomfort.
The steering is sharp and precise; excellent when parking and nimble in town
It isn't the performance or handling that is going to impress customers in this
segment; it is visual appeal, brand value, interior space, low running costs
and value for money. Five points that really matter and the 'bright' Spark just
about ticks all of those boxes. It's not perfect, but what is? Against? Some
cheap interior finishes, very small boot and the top model looks expensive against
discounted competition. Plus points include eye-catching styling, good passenger
leg and head room front and rear, low running costs with cheap servicing (3-year/30,000-mile
servicing package costs £199) and it's more practical than most in this class.
Chevrolet Spark 1.2 LT 5-door | £9,845
Maximum speed: 102mph | 0-62mph: 12.1 seconds | Overall test MPG: 48.7mpg
Power: 80bhp | Torque: 82lb ft | CO2 119g/km