Chevyís first entry into the micro car market is the 2013 Spark. During the IMPA test days, I got to take a spin in a cheeky Spark 2LT with the standard 5-speed manual transmission; a 4-speed automatic is optional. Ingress and egress of the tiny car is easy due to the upright seating position and tall doors. Headroom for such a small car is excellent. Despite being a very low price entry model, every Chevrolet Spark comes with air conditioning, power windows and a full 10 airbags. Rear seat access is just as easy as in the front with a surprising amount of legroom. I doubt I would want to spend 5 hours riding back there, but most spins around town would be fine. The 1LT and 2LT trim levels come with Chevyís new MyLink infotainment system that includes a 7Ē color touch-screen. I didnít play with it during this test drive, but expect it to operate the same as the MyLink in the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco we reviewed previously. The interior is mostly hard plastic as would be expected, but feels very well put together. In fact, my only quibble with the interior would be the rather clunky looking and feeling manual shifter that Chevy borrowed from your Grandpapís 1987 Chevy S-10.
The Spark is powered by a 1.25 liter 4-cylinder with 84 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 83 ft-lbs of torque at 4200 rpm. Routed through the 5-speed manual, this is the little engine that could, and with some effort, does. What power you do have comes on quickly and the Spark actually feels peppy to drive. Gearing is such that you can be in 5th gear by 35 mph and as long as youíre not in any hurry, accelerate up to highway speeds. I recognize the Spark is a cost conscious micro car, but it does feel like it needs a 6th gear. This is borne out in two ways: First, at 55 mph, the engine is turning at about 2500 rpm, and while the engine is impressively smooth for such an entry level car, the buzz from the engine does make it into the cabin at these higher RPMs. I wasnít in a position to take the car faster, but I would probably find the noise from the engine at 70 to be bothersome. The second reason the Spark needs a 6th gear is shown in the fuel economy numbers. The Spark is EPA rated at 32 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. Both the larger Chevy Sonic and Cruze with 6-speed manuals can beat that highway number soundly. Even if Chevy didnít make a 6-speed manual standard, the ability to option into one at extra cost would be nice. The Spark wonít be winning road rallies any time soon, but in the ride and handling department, the car felt a class above and was actually fun to drive and throw around.
The mini-car market is very small in the U.S., and dominated mostly by the SMART Four-Two and more recently the Scion iQ. Seeing what Chevy has done with the Spark makes me think they are about to make a huge splash in the tiny tiny-car market.
The full gallery of pictures from the IMPA Test days is located here and will continue to be built as quick drive reviews are added:
Quick Drive: 2013 Chevrolet Spark - Quick Drive: - Cheers and Gears: News - News - Cheers and Gears