Review: Chevrolet Spark

by Mike Satterfield

I am a big fan of small cars. Always have been and I expect, I always will be. I have owned Fiat 850 Coupes, Classic Mini Coopers, Even a Berkley Roadster one of the smallest cars ever made. There is just something wonderful about personal-sized transportation. So the Chevrolet Spark has been on my radar for some time as something I would like to test.

Now I couldn’t get an email or call returned from GM about snagging a Spark from the press fleet, undeterred, I popped open the Priceline App and for $11 a day I was set to rent a spark for the week.

Admittedly I am not a big fan of the General, partly because growing up my father was, and still is, a Ford fan. But also because the GM cars I grew up with while reliable and rock solid, they were not cars you grew fond of, think Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra.

So with my past GM experience I wasn’t honestly expecting a ton from the Spark since the only car cheaper than it is a Nissan Versa 1.6 S. The Versa comes in with an MSRP of $11,990, while the Spark starts at $12,660, a spread of $670. As you start to look at other cars in the entry level space you get an idea of how inexpensive the Spark is. The base price on a Smart Pure Coupe is $14,650, a Kia Rio starts at $14,165, and even the apocalyptically bad Mitsubishi Mirage is more at $12,995. A new MINI starts at $21,700 so if you are in the market for a fun city car the Chevy is worth a look.

Just to be clear the car I am driving is a rental so it has a CVT Automatic transmission. It is also the 2LT package, so it this car as tested comes in at $17,285 before the destination and delivery charges. But the only major differences from the base model are the “leatherette” interior trim, keyless remote, cruise control, and auto locking power door locks.

Now I have to say that the first expectation shattering aspect of the Spark is the fit and finish, now it’s no Bentley but it did not feel like cheap car. The styling is excellent and fits a lot of personality into a small package. The color choices also help add to the quirkiness of the pint sized Chevy which comes in colors like Lime Green, Splash Blue, Salsa Red (pictured), and Kalamata Purple. In fact the closest color to boring beige they offer on the Spark is called Toast Marshmallow.  

Inside they chose nice materials; this car is equipped with the Leatherette seat trim and the simulated aluminum accents, but what is most impressive is how well it is all put together. Again it does not feel like they skimped on the materials or the construction and everything feels solid. The screen for the radio is positioned well so even in bright day light you can see it clearly.

The car drives well… better than I expected. The CVT on takeoff tends to keep the revs high and that can be a little noisy, but that quickly settles down and the cabin is surprising quite for such a small car. The seating position is great and visibility is excellent, the controls are easy to use and well placed. The car, while small, does not feel claustrophobic even with other passengers on board.  The only thing I found frustrating was the radios on/off switch which seemed to need a massive amount of pressure to turn on, however, once on the MyLink touch screen system is intuitive and easy to use.

 The car does not have a third seat belt in the back; instead it has a large plastic try and cup holder dividing the back seat. 60/40 split bench. The trunk space is adequate for normal shopping, carryon luggage and the like, but you won’t be making Costco runs for 55 gallon drums of mayonnaise in the Spark. The 60/40 split bench is where the Spark really shines since it is a true 60/40 fold flat seat. With the seats down there is 27.2 cubic feet of cargo space, and room for two adults. This was put to the test when my mother needed to run some antiques to a local barn sale, and the Spark and I were pressed into service. After a quick flip of the lower cushion and removing the headrests the seats folded away quickly.  

The 1.4L ECOTEC four cylinder engine is smooth, surprisingly peppy, and delivered great MPG, after a week of driving my daily routine I had used just $14 worth of fuel.

Overall I would have to move the Spark to the top of my list if I was looking for an inexpensive commuter/city car. While I have always been fond of the MINI brand, it’s $9,000 more, and while I love the Fiat 500, the two door 500 is not as practical as the Spark for hauling people and stuff. I have to say that Chevy hit it out of the park with this little car.

If you want more info on the Spark check out the official Spark HERE.

This post was not sponsored, in fact I couldn't even get a press tester.