14.1.2011 Chevrolet Spark 1.0LS review
Chevrolet isn't usually a name you associate with small cars, but since General Motors took over Korean brand Daewoo it has become the value stablemate for Vauxhall and the Spark is a strong replacement for the old Daewoo Matiz.
It's a good looking car. The price is keen on base models; it steers and rides well enough and doesn't get too blown about by lorries on a motorway, but is happier on more urban beats.
Review by Russell Bray for nextgreencar.com
Shopping trolley territory though, providing you are quick enough with the gear change the Spark keeps up with town traffic most of the time despite a mere 995cc four-cylinder petrol engine. Gradients require a lower gear. Acceleration to 62mph takes a leisurely 15.5 seconds and that's if you rev the rather harsh engine without mercy and don't mind the noise. Maximum push (torque) doesn't arrive until 4,800rpm and the full 67bhp a while later at 6,400rpm which is a mere 100rpm off the rev counter red line. Top speed is 96mph.
Lives up rather well to the feisty styling and is actually pleasingly entertaining if you can keep up enough momentum to find out. Hydraulic steering gives more 'feel' than electric systems and despite noticeable initial body roll entering a bend the Spark feels planted and predictable through corners. Ride comfort is good and bumps and potholes are well coped with. Ventilated front disc brakes and rear drum brakes inspire confidence and give good feedback to the driver. Anti-lock brakes are standard but an electronic stability system is £350 extra.
Strikingly modern. The Chevy Spark took over from the Daewoo Matiz and is much more masculine and sporty looking. I remember being at the 2007 New York motor show when General Motors took the wraps off three designs and invited the public to vote via the internet for their favourite. The Beat, in violent green, won and became the Spark. By city car standards the Spark is big with good space for four. The boot is tiny but the rear seats split and fold 60/40. Length 3640mm. Width 1597mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
You will get four in a Spark without much trouble and the seats are pretty well shaped and supportive. The instruments are set in a motorcycle-style pod on the steering which gives the cabin extra style. There's good feel from the steering and brakes. The five-speed gear change has a long movement but it's light and smooth.
The Spark would be an ideal learner or first driver's car with more panache than, say, a Nissan Micra. Air conditioning, power steering and front electric windows are standard. Metallic paint is £365 extra.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Drive with restraint and you should approach the 42.8mpg urban, 67.3mpg extra urban and 55.4mpg combined official fuel figures, but wring the car's neck and you can dip below 40mpg. Servicing is at 10,000 mile intervals. Carbon dioxide emissions of 119g/km put the Spark into band C with no first year's road tax and then £30 a year. Insurance is a low group three. Chevrolet's warranty is five years/ 100,000 miles.
Nothing ground breaking but the Spark offers solid, sensible engineering and the low running costs of a small car. The 119g/km carbon dioxide emissions won't let you off London's £10 per day congestion charge though. That said, the model scores well on green impact for a small petrol car and has a Green Car Rating of only 32.
Cabin quality good for the money. Standard fare on all Sparks includes anti-lock brakes, six airbags (front, side and roof), tinted windows, height adjustable headlamps, Isofix child seats and power steering. Spark + models gain CD-Radio with auxiliary input, MP3 & USB connectivity, air conditioning and electric front windows. LS model, as tested has 14in wheels, remote central locking, adjustable steering (useful if you are taller or smaller than average), front fog lamps and body colour mirrors, door handles and roof spoiler.
Model tested: Chevrolet Spark 1.0LS
Body-style: Five-door city car
Engine/CO2: 67bhp 995cc petrol / 119 gCO2/km
Trim grades: Spark/LS/LS+/LT
On-road price: From £7,215. Price as tested £9,005
Warranty: Five years / 100,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 3.5 STARS
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