• Thursday, 28 February 2013

      Chevrolet Spark

      2013 Chevrolet Spark minicar, New York City, Aug 2012

      Launched for the 2013 model year, the Chevrolet Spark minicar is the smallest vehicle sold as a Chevy in a couple of decades--and more than a foot shorter than the subcompact Sonic. That puts the Spark in competition with a variety of cars that range from the tiny two-seat Smart ForTwo and three-seat Scion iQ up through the Fiat 500 and MINI Cooper, perhaps even to three-door hatchbacks like the Honda CR-Z, Hyundai Veloster, and Scion tC. It may also compete with cars offering digital connectivity and some cool factor, including the wildly successful Kia Soul, and perhaps even pricier quirky small cars like the Nissan Juke.

      Frankly, the Spark minicar represents something of an experiment for a brand better known for full-size pickup trucks, sport-utility vehicles, and sedans. The Spark is just 145 inches long, and comes with a single engine choice: an 85-horsepower, 1.2-liter four-cylinder paired with a standard five-speed manual gearbox. A simple four-speed automatic transmission is a $925 option--but we don't recommend it. The five-speed manual version of the Chevy Spark is fun to drive while being not only easy to park, but usable in a far wider array of circumstances than the Smart ForTwo.

      For more on the the current model,
      including pricing with options, see our full review of the 2013 Chevrolet Spark.
      The Spark comes in an array of colors, including several sherbert ice-cream shades: yellow, pink, lime green, and sky blue. That alone sets it apart from the tiny proportions of the Smart or Scion, the characteristic contrasting roof of the MINI Cooper, or the primary colors of the Fiat 500. For buyers who aren't impressed by size--who want minimal but cheerful wheels to use mostly around town--the little Chevy occupies a niche almost its own.

      You can fit four adults into the Spark, though they will sit upright, close, and with the knees of back-seat riders touching the slim front seats. But passengers ride high, so there's little of the vulnerable feeling of more low-slung small cars. And because it's a five-door hatchback, entry and exit is easier--despite the small door openings--than it would be for the even-smaller rear seats of the three-door MINI or Fiat. The dashboard is simple, but the Spark comes standard with the Chevrolet MyLink connectivity system, offering apps for Pandora internet radio and Stitcher Smart Radio..

      In its first year on sale, Chevy offers the Spark in three trim levels, starting at about $13,000. The base LS model comes standard with air conditioning, power windows, rear wiper, trip computer, 15-inch alloy wheels, a flip-forward 60/40 split folding rear seat, and Onstar built in.

      The mid-level 1LT model includes power locks, power mirrors, cruise control, an audio system with a 7-inch color touch screen, steering-wheel audio controls, Bluetooth pairing, and satellite radio. The top-of-the-line 2LT level adds different alloy wheels, trim upgrades, and even heated seats. Chevrolet plans to add the GogoLink embedded navigation and real-time traffic application later in the model year.

      While you may see a disproportionate volume of media and advertising on an all-electric Spark, don't pay it a great deal of attention. The 2014 Chevy Spark EV is what our sister site Green Car Reports calls a "compliance car"--an EV built to satisfy coming California clear-air regulations that either require automakers to sell battery-powered electric cars, or to stop doing business in the state. GM hasn't provided official specifications on the Spark EV's battery just yet, and hasn't estimated its potential driving range, but has let some media drive the vehicle--including Green Car Reports.

      View the original article here


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