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2013 Chevrolet Spark Review By Larry Nutson

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2013 Chevrolet Spark
Colorful city-slicker

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel (IMG_4316)

Chicago, September 2012 – Chevrolet just recently ignited a flash of attention from the Chicagoland automotive media with a stop on its multi-city Spark Media Drive. It was actually quite appropriate to be in the Windy City, since Chicago had the highest volume Spark sales in August for any city.

Chevrolet introduced its first mini car for the U.S., or micro-subcompact if you will, in 18 major metro markets starting in July. Chicago sales exceeded those of New York and Los Angeles by 30%, perhaps due to Chicago having the highest gasoline prices in the entire country.

The 2013 Chevrolet Spark is a front-drive, four-seat, five-door hatch powered by a 1.25-L, 84HP four-cylinder engine mated to either a 5-speed manual or an optional 4-speed automatic. EPA-estimated combined fuel economy ratings are 34 mpg for the manual and 32 mpg for the automatic.

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The Spark is all about affordability, fuel efficiency, and maneuverability in crowded city driving conditions. The Spark comes in three trim levels, LS, 1LT and 2LT with prices starting at $12,995. The top of the line 2LT is priced at $15,795.

All three models are well-equipped and not stripped-down cheapos. Power windows, 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, rear spoiler, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, 10 standard air bags, and electric power steering come equipped on all Sparks. Chevrolet MyLink infotainment is standard on the LT and features a seven-inch diagonal color screen, AM/FM stereo with seek and scan and digital clock, Bluetooth streaming audio, Voice recognition, and is compatible with apps for Pandora and Stitcher. A navigation app for MyLink will come later this year.

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We had the chance to drive the Spark for about an hour and half on a route through the streets of Chicago and along beautiful Lake Shore Drive…LSD to locals. My driving partner and I were fortunate to test drive both the manual and automatic. Acceleration is modest. I probably would opt for the automatic since I do a very high percentage of my driving on stop-and-go city streets. Someone who buys the Spark for a commute on the expressway might be just fine with the manual. By the way Hill Start Assist helps prevents drivers from rolling when restarting from a stop on a hill, and relieves some of the anxiety in driving a stick shift.

At 144.7inches long, parking is a snap. The seating for four is fairly comfortable. With two in the front on our drive we didn’t feel wanting for more head, leg or shoulder room. The rear seats are well designed and not all that bad to ride along in. The rear seat has a flip-and-fold feature that expands the 11.4 cuft cargo volume to 31.2 cuft. The fuel tank holds 9.2 gallons that will get you around 300 or even 350 miles of travel.

On the outside, colors such as Salsa, Jalapeno, Denim, Lemonade and Techno Pink should get your attention. For the traditionalists, there’s Black Granite, Silver Ice, and Summit White. Color matching inserts in the front doors and instrument panel add a nice touch. The LT2 even has heated seats…great for Chicago winters.

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The Spark name is a global name and the car has been on sale for about two years in about 80 countries in Europe, Asia, Australia, Mexico and South America.
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It’s built in South Korea and Chevy will be bringing a pure-EV version eventually.

While in Chicago, Chevrolet announced its partnership with MTV Iggy to launch “Cover the World”, a new online music showcase that will bring the hottest, breaking artists from abroad to North America along with the Spark.

Larry Nutson