The cheeky little Chevrolet Spark is the rechristened and slightly redesigned Daewoo Matiz. After Daewoo were neck deep in financial trouble and GM bought it out, the company inherited a number of models that were suited well for Asian and European markets; the Chevrolet Spark being one of them. A few design modifications on the exterior, namely the lights, and a slew of changes on the inside made it different from the Matiz. Moreover, the Spark was given a 995 cc four-cylinder engine, unlike the 796 cc three-pot unit that powered the Matiz.
Chevrolet India is gearing up to launch an all-new version of the Spark sub-compact car by the end of the year. The new Chevrolet Spark will get a facelift, which will include a bold two-part grille, reminiscent of the Beat, a new front bumper and re-shaped rear-view mirrors, which will include turn indicators incorporated into the mirror housing. New tail-lights are also expected.
Presently, the Chevrolet Spark is available in five variants (three petrol and two LPG) and six colour options. The ex-showroom (Kolkata) price of the Chevrolet Spark ranges from Rs 3.22 to Rs 4.13 lakhs. Autojunction test drove the top-of-the-line Spark 1.0 LT. Read the car review to find out how it faired.
Design & Engineering
The Spark stretches 3495mm in length, 1495mm in width and 1518mm height. The Chevrolet Spark LT that we test drove came with full wheel caps, tinted glasses, both side ORVMs, body colour bumpers, ORVMs and door handles, rear spoiler, satin silver roof rails, front fog lamps and mudguards. Alloy wheels come as an option in the LT. The mid-range Spark LS only gets full wheel covers, tinted glasses, both sides ORVMs and body colour bumpers, while the lowest trim variants (Spark 1.0) has to make do with just the tinted glasses, right hand side ORVM and hub caps.
The headlamps, grille and the overall look from the front are sober. It has a clean and aerodynamic design on the side and the circular shape tail lamp are unique and ensure that when viewed from behind, the Chevy Spark won’t get mistaken for any other car. On the whole, it is a small and cute looking car.
Interiors & Comfort
The Chevrolet Spark might look tiny from outside but will surely surprise you with generous space in the cabin. The beige colour interior further makes the passenger compartment look and feel roomy. Although, the centre mounted instrument panel is a big drawback because you will be required to constantly look leftward while driving to check the speedometer and other display lights. The seat felt a little hard and inclined forward. While driving, my left knee was constantly brushing against the central console. Now, even for a medium build adult like me this could feel very uncomfortable if you are going on a long drive. Unlike most other cars, but similar to the Ford Figo, the turn indicator and headlamp operating lever rests on the left side of the steering wheel and the wiper is operated from the right. The horn is placed right at the centre of the two-spoke steering wheel and personally, I found it quite inconvenient every time I wanted to honk.
The Chevrolet Spark can comfortably accommodate four adults but fitting in a fifth individual will prove to be uncomfortable. Inside the passenger compartment, the space management with many cubbyholes to keep little knick-knacks is praiseworthy. But the boot space is certainly a disappointment and will only be able to accommodate two medium sized soft bags at the max.
Features like fabric seat upholstery, glove box, cup holders in front console, bottle holders in front door, low fuel warning lamp, remote fuel filler release, remote tailgate release, front room lamp, internally adjustable ORVMs, temperature gauge, tachometer, digital clock, battery voltage indicator, air conditioner and heater come as standard in all the variants. The tachometer, digital clock and battery voltage indicator are latest additions on all variants and were not present in the earlier Spark.
The Chevrolet Spark LT that we drove came with additional features like power steering, cigarette lighter, detachable ashtray, front and rear power windows, 2-din factory fitted music system with an integrated CD/MP3 player, USB connectivity and an auxiliary input, two speakers (will fail to satisfy the music enthusiast in you), central locking, rear wiper and washer, rear defogger and 60:40 split double folding seat. The mid-range Spark LS only gets the power steering and front power windows apart from the standard features. However, the Spark 1.0 doesn't get the power steering.
Performance & Handling
The Chevrolet Spark is powered by a 1 litre, 4 cylinder, 8V SOHC engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission which produces 63 PS of maximum power at 5400 rpm and 90.3 Nm of peak torque at 4200 rpm. All the five variants of the Chevrolet Spark are offered with the same engine option.
For a small car, the Chevrolet Spark boasts of good ride quality, especially in its segment. Due to its power steering and tiny frame, the Spark is easy to negotiate through the congested city roads and very convenient to fit even in those incredibly small parking spaces. The Spark has McPherson struts with anti-roll bar in the front and torsion beam axle in the rear which enables a more or less comfortable ride, although there is a decent amount of body roll and the soft suspension means a lot of smaller bumps were bottomed out, but whenever we drove the Spark over slightly bigger potholes or uneven stretches, the ripples were sent through to the cabin and the jolts were especially felt by those occupying the rear seats.
The gear shift felt slightly hard and the brakes weren’t very confident inspiring. With four people inside the car, the 1 litre engine managed fine within the city but it will feel out of breath on long stretches of open road. The air conditioner also cut out every time you floor the accelerator and could cause discomfort during the cruel Indian summer.
The Chevrolet Spark boasts of ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India) ratified figures of 18 kmpl, although we didn’t get an opportunity to check that. But if my interactions with Spark users are anything to go by, then the mileage rarely drops below 12kmpl within the city and with the AC on. The AC cut-off which we spoke about earlier helps the fuel efficiency by de-coupling the AC compressor everytime you get generous with the throttle. Still, other cars in this segment are more frugal than the Spark, which suffers probably because of its simpler two-valve architecture.
Today, safety is a major concern for all the carmakers across the globe. Not only does safety features secures the life of those who travel inside the vehicle but also result in good resale value in the future. The Chevrolet Spark comes with central high mount stop lamps, rear door child locks and door ajar warning display as standard features across all the variants. The day-night rear view mirror is available on the Spark LS and LT variants, while the rear wiper and washer, rear defogger, and front fog lamps come fitted in the top-of-the-line LT. Driver airbag and ABS too comes as cost options only on the Chevrolet Spark LT.
The Chevy Spark is cheeky little car with refreshing looks. Although small in size, it has a decently spacious cabin to accommodate four adults. The ride quality is surprisingly good for a car this small and it is extremely easy to drive, especially in the congested city traffic. Its tiny frame also ensures that squeezing it in that small parking place won’t prove bothersome. Chevrolet also offers a three year extended warranty for the price of Rs 15, 499 (petrol) and Rs 16,499 (LPG). The Chevrolet Promise encourages customers to opt for the extended warranty scheme, where cost of service and maintenance will be taken care of by the company for three years or 45,000 kilometres whichever is earlier. This definitely adds to your peace of mind and makes it a sensible choice for prospective buyers.
In my opinion, if one is planning to buy the Chevrolet Spark then is would be a smart choice to opt for the top-of-the-line Spark LT because it has a host of additional features in comparison to the mid-range Spark LS which misses out on the body colour ORVMs and door handles, rear spoiler, satin silver roof rails, front fog lamps, mudguards, cigarette lighter, detachable ashtray, front and rear power windows, central locking, rear wiper and washer, rear defogger and 60:40 split and double-folding seat. At Rs 3.78 lakhs (ex-showroom, Kolkata), the Chevrolet Spark LT is just Rs 30,000 costlier than the LS and makes so much more sense. You can also opt for driver airbag, ABS and alloy wheels as cost options.
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