The Power to Spark Surprise: the All-New 1.4L Chevrolet Spark
When you’re six foot and 2 inches tall with a girth to match, a small car like the Chevrolet Spark 1.4L is difficult to even consider as a ride. So it was with a fair bit of skepticism (tempered somewhat by the affordable tag) that we viewed the Spark. Do taller people automatically write this one off or steer with their knees and sit with shoulders hunched like a turtle to prevent the top of the head brushing the roof all the time?
But the new 2016 Spark that is now shining in the sun on the Carlease lot seems larger than the previous ones, and somehow appears to have ‘grown up’. This is Chevrolet’s shot at moving its economy flag-bearer away from its current status as the bottom-of-the-rung ‘mini’ car, and pitting it against the likes of established economy sedans like the Hyundai Accent and the Honda City and popular hatchbacks like the Toyota Yaris, Ford Figo, and Kia Rio.
Although still essentially a box with a wheel at each corner, the wheel base is longer (more legroom), but the height is lower.
This means that despite the lower roof the Spark happily accommodates four adults all sitting straight up. This could be at the expense of some luggage space, though.
The entry level Spark 1.4L LS comes with Bluetooth connectivity for your phone, steering-mounted
controls (and one of the best steering wheels in the business), fold-down rear seats, a pretty good sound system, and IsoFix child seat compatibility. Higher-end LT models come with cruise control, Chevrolet MyLink and Apple CarPlay – the first economy car in the region to introduce the technology.
The lower profile is clearly more aerodynamic, which cuts drag to help improve fuel efficiency and makes the Spark less susceptible to shamaal winds.
Masculine accent lines across the sides break up the slab-like shape, and the taillights protrude from the body to add further visual impact. Elliptical headlights sweep around the top corners of the hood almost to the base of the windshield, imbuing the Spark with some good looks – which is saying a lot for hatchbacks in this category. Overall, the 2016 model
looks sleeker and more sophisticated, matured somehow.
Power with efficiency
It’s a good idea to think of this as a new car, separate from its diminutive 1.0-liter older cousin.
Redesigned from scratch, the new aluminum engine is lighter and has an integrated exhaust manifold. This contributes to better performance and efficiency. This means better weight balance and a more responsive driving experience enhanced by a powerful air-conditioner that laughs at the 44 degrees Celsius outside the car.
The 2016 Spark is powered by an all-new 1.4-liter Ecotec engine that delivers 98 horsepower. GM says that is 16 per cent more than the previous model, but with a higher degree of efficiency – you’ll need only around 5 liters of fuel to travel 100 kilometers. Low noise and vibration do their bit for a smoother ride.
Dual front airbags, an electronic stability control system, automatic door locks, and latches for child seats contribute to a sense of security even at speeds close to 120 kilometers per hour.
Overall, the grown-up 1.4L Spark now making waves at Carlease offers great space, good features, and drives with more kick than most cars in the ultra-economy category.
|Power in its class||Luggage space|
|Affordability||Hey, it’s a small car, not a limo!|
|Good leg-room for passengers in the front, pretty good for the guys in the back|
|Pretty good sound from a tiny system|
|Looks pretty good, too!|
Specifications and comparisons
|Chevy Spark||Nissan Micra||Toyota Yaris||Ford Figo|
|Engine||1.4L I4 FWD||1.5L I4 FWD||1.3L I4 FWD||1.2L I4 FWD|
|Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)||5.5||6.9||6.5||5.5|
|0-100 kph (sec.)||11.5||15.4||14.0||13.1|
|Top Speed (kph)||186||178||165||169|
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