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Peppy engine, roominess endear competition's participants to micro car





Aaron and Erin of Team @erin_gee posed like an elephant in Stanley Park. Why? It's just what you do for the team.

Photograph by: Submitted , The Province




It's fitting that six 2013 Sparks, Chevrolet's new offering in the micro-car segment, are in town when fireworks are lighting the night skies of Vancouver.
The Chevy Spark is adorable. It comes in fun colours like Techno Pink, Lemonade and Denim. Jalapeno seems to be the leading favourite.
Bloggers, lifestyle writers and social media come to our start location for the #SparkCity Challenge. They're pumped up and ready to rumble. Two different groups each day, they spread out into the urban jungle in the six Spark cars, they use clues given out randomly via an application from a tablet device to figure out where they need to go.
Teams complete tasks that involve enlisting the help of strangers to play a quick game. Hopscotch any-one? Photos are uploaded to Twitter where the event is live at #SparkCity so anyone can watch the action.
Wedging the micro car into improbable parking spots in the downtown core is a breeze. No wonder. It's not even 400 cm long and just under 160 cm wide.
One of our teams, representing Simon Fraser University, consists of four strapping young men, three of them well over 180 cm (6 feet) tall. They fill the cabin, looking a bit cartoonish in there, but say they are completely comfortable.
The Business in Vancouver team of four has no complaints either.
Spark goes grocery shopping and carries lots of stuff besides two back seat passengers. Couple of Border Collies or a parrot cage? No problem.
Interior colours are fun. The Salsa unit that Vancouver's Vitamin Daily team put through its paces has a two-tone theme that draws oohs and aahs from challengers Adrienne and Kelly. But for the exterior, they tweet: "Super cute @ChevroletCan-ada Spark, can we keep it? Jalapeno is our favourite colour!"
Approaching strangers to ask for help is daunting. A team comprised of @miss604, @CanadianKelli and @ JohnBiehler tweets: "Jumping rope with strangers." The things you'll do for the team! Luckily the city is friendly and in great spirits because the sun is shining.
Although it's not a race and simply completing the four challenges qualifies entrants for the grand prize, competition is stiff. Kerry Cheung of Team @bizinvancouver wants to finish first but it's Team @scottrocker that triumphantly rolls in ahead of the pack with Team @Sherman38 coming in a close third. Competition is a natural human instinct.
Five Hole for Food, an organization of mostly volunteers that puts together an annual coast-to-coast tour playing hockey to support food banks across Canada and North America, joins us one evening. Having just completed their successful 2012 cross-country tour, they can't seem to shake the competitive bug.
They are in it to win it and send out two teams to compete in #SparkCity. Live from Twitter, we hear: "What a Friday night ... @fiveholeforfood got to drive a new Spark & explore our amazing city!"
Team urbanmommies.ca's Jill and Derek Amery bring their young boys along to help Mom and Dad find the secret locations. In the Techno Pink car of course!
The urban rally starts off with a parking lot challenge that involves backing up to a traffic cone in the Chevrolet Spark. As the driver gets closer and closer to the cone, it disappears from the rear-view and side mirrors. The driver has to sense where it is, get as close to it as possible without touching it.
The record for this challenge stands with the @urbanmommies team. Jill tweets: "Derek wins with an inch-and-a-half! LOL"
After four days of #SparkCity, the record for the furthest distance, 65 inches, stands with Ryan Bains of the Five Hole for Food team. Luckily Ryan's hockey skills make up for the teasing from teammates and Twitter video of his parking defeat.
At the end of every day, we top up the fuel in the Chevy Sparks. It doesn't take much to feed the thrifty 1.2-litre 16-valve 4-cylinder VVT power plant.
It's sad when the Vancouver edition draws to an end, but this week we move the Sparks across the country to Montreal and then Toronto.
Besides getting to test the tiny Chevrolet Spark in its natural habitat - aka the city - participants who successfully complete the entire challenge have their names entered into a draw to win $2,000 as a donation for a registered charity of their choice.
Small Spark but everybody wins Big.
 
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