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2013 Chevrolet Spark Review By John Heilig

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2013 Chevrolet Spark

The Auto Page
2013 Chevrolet Spark

By John Heilig
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

The Auto Page Review

Vehicle: 2013 Chevrolet Spark
Engine: 1.2-lite DOHC I4
Horsepower/Torque: 84 hp @ 6,400 rpm/83 lb.-ft. @ 4,200 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Wheelbase: 93.5 in.
Length x width x height: 144.7 x 62.9 x 55.0 (est.)
Tires: P185/55R15
Cargo: 31.2 cu ft. (with rear seat bucks folded)
Economy: 32 mpg city/38 mpg highway/35.9 mpg test
Fuel tank: 9.2 gal.
Curb wt.
Sticker: $15,795 (includes $750 destination charge)

Bottom line: The Korean-built Chevy Spark is in the same class as the Fiat 500 and Scion iQ. It beats each of them in some categories and loses in others, but overall is a worthy competitor in the minicar segment. It has room for four passengers, a small amount of luggage, and has very good fuel economy, even if the EPA estimates don't make it look that good.

I have to admit that when I first saw the Chevrolet Spark sitting in my driveway I didn't look forward to the oncoming week. Here was an honest minicar, with a clipped-off rear end that looked as if it would have trouble holding one passenger, Weight Watchers or not.

Well, I was wrong. While the Spark is a small car, it isn't that small. My wife and I did fit in it and we even packed the two granddaughters in the back on their booster seats without unusual discomfort. And while the misnamed smart car gives you the feeling of instant death when you're in it, the Spark doesn't. I'd rank it second to the 500 in fun factor, slightly ahead of the iQ. The 500 is better styled, that's why it wins, but only by a nose.

The Spark is ideal for scooting around town, running errands and hopping to the grocery store. There's a small trunk, but the rear seat backs fold to. Increase capacity. Still, we made all our grocery trips with the seat backs up.

We made one lone trip with the Spark that involved many Interstate miles. Except for the noisy nine, we had no problems. But that noisy engine was a problem. The audio system was next to useless unless we had the volume on teenager high. The inboard computer showed an indicated 36 mpg during e trip.

Okay, the Spark is a small car, therefore ride quality was compromised somewhat. I'd rank it poor overall, but decent considering the short wheelbase and light weight. I remember a quote for a former Rolls-Royce executive that the secret behind the Rolls ride was a long wheelbase and a lot of weight.

That short wheelbase makes the Spark easy to park, whether in parking lot spots or parallel. Someone teased me though - it. Seemed that even though I had enough room in the parking lot space for two Sparks, I still parked far away from the car in front.

With 84 horsepower, I felt the power was generally adequate. There were times when, even locally, I had to downshift to get the revs up to get up to the power band. I also felt the manual transmission was vague. Several times I drove in third rather than fifth, simply because the gating wasn't direct enough. Normally, you can tell the difference by the engine noise but the Spark's engine was always noisy.

The manually adjustable heated front seats were comfortable once you find the right spot for your body. The rear seats have enough leg room for adults. There's also good rear visibility. The built-in console in the rear defines the Spark as a four-seater.

Styling is interesting. As I mentioned earlier, it looks as if the rear end was chopped off. The rear door handles are "hidden" on the C-pillar, much like the handles on sedans masquerading as coupes.

The instrument panel is unique, and is worthy of being copied. A large speedometer dominates the i.p. To the right of this dial is a rectangular digital display with a tachometer, odometer, fuel level and economy gauge. It's all very compact yet very useful.

Audio and HVAC controls are simple (yea!). The large navi screen in the center of the dash also gives you audio settings, time, date, temperature, telephone/smart phone link.

The Chevrolet Smart, as Chevy's entry on the minicar market, is a worthy competitor. It does all that's expected of it with a few bonuses, like heated seats, 10 air bags and a great instrument panel.

(c) 2013 The Auto Page Syndicate