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 $1,600 disadvantage. Other B-segment cars, including the Sonic, are 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.
Review: 2013 Chevrolet Spark LS | The Truth About Cars