Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Pathological tries to find a Spark with a Chevy


Even developing a cheap car is an expensive business. So if companies want to make any money out of one they need to share the costs. This explains why Chevy used the Opel/Vauxhall platform for its smallest Spark. But is buying one a false economy?

The standard 1.2 four-cylinder pumps out 98hp. It may not seem like much but it does offer decent flexibility around town but on the highway you'll really want to pick and choose your overtaking. You'll feel like you're constantly flogging the accelerator pedal even though you aren't. Which does put a slight damper on the running costs because while most four-cylinder engines thrive on the higher rpms, the tiny engines like this one are best suited with a manual gearbox which really does utilize the little horsepower and torque the engine has to offer. Sadly we didn't get a manual gearbox with our top of the range 2LT trim but at least it didn't feel cheap inside like we thought it would, the previous Spark was more of a hipster feeling car while this one feels more Euro Chic.

Driving around town the Spark is actually quite fun to drive. It's easy to squeeze in and out of tight parking spaces and very easy to dart around at low speeds. The steering feels light and decent on feedback, it just when you get on faster paced roads everything seems to just fall apart. It doesn't hold its own as well as it should and well the ride comfort maybe comfortable, but it feels like you've driven a long distance just from the abundance of engine noise and wind noise that sneaks into the cabin. We know the price tag of the vehicle, but a Ford Fiesta seems more refined and isn't much more expensive.

The interior does feel like it is built to a price and well some materials feel cheap and nasty. Build quality seems good from what we've been able to see. The front seats offer decent comfort and support, while those in the back will have decent space. You won't be able to fit three abreast as this car is strictly a four-seat vehicle only. The boot space isn't anything to complain of since this is a small car but the Ford Fiesta and even a Fiat 500 feels more versatile.

Our tester car came equipped with leatherette seating surfaces, keyless entry with keyless start and a rear park assist. You also get a seven-inch infotainment display, bluetooth for your mobile device, 15-inch alloy wheels and integrated fog lights.

We understand that not everyone can afford most of the mainstream sedans and hatchbacks, and the Chevy Spark certainly is one vehicle that should be on your lists of considerations. We didn't say short list this because well the Ford Fiesta is far more fun to drive and the Mitsubishi Mirage beats the Spark in the value for the money factor. The Spark certainly is better to drive than a Mirage and we surely would choose one of the a Mirage any day, it's just the simple fact that if you don't get the cheapest one. You minus well get a Sonic or even a Nissa Versa Note. It's good value for the money but there are too many indirect rivals to choose from for similar cash.

Likes: Low running costs. Easy to drive around town and live with as a daily commuter car.

Dislikes: Outside the city limits everything goes downhill. It can get expensive as you climb the range.

Our pick: Stick with the 1LT. It comes with all the standard kit most care about and also has standard alloy wheels without having to pay the price premium of the 2LT. The Activ version has a slightly raised driving position but no all-wheel-drive option is also worth considering if you want a crossover poser but it's quite dearly priced.

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