With its roots in the Daewoo Matiz of the late 90's, the Chevrolet Spark has grown up considerably over the last decade and is currently Chevrolet's best-selling passenger car in South Africa. Packaged as a small city car with a host of standard features and an attractive pricing structure for those on a budget, the little Sparky is selling well in an increasingly cash-strapped market.
I spent a week with the 2014 Chevrolet Spark 1.2 LS manual in Armour Grey to see how it fares in this competitive segment.
Looks CountStanding 3 640 mm in length, 1 597 mm wide and 1 522 mm high, the Chevrolet Spark 1.2 LS is small and compact and makes up for its size with vastly improved styling over its predecessors. Along with 14-inch alloy wheels, the front-end styling features a new dual-port grille with chrome surrounds and fog lamps as well as sharper, re-designed headlights.
Towards the rear, the roof rails, roof spoiler and high-set rear lights give the little Sparky some added edge and the hidden rear door handles are a nice design touch. With its updated styling, the Spark will in all likelihood shake off negative perceptions of the past and increase its appeal to a younger market.
Spark (less) InteriorOn the inside, the Chevrolet Spark LS comes with a fair amount of features including cloth seats, height adjustable steering wheel with mounted audio controls, front and rear electric windows, a 4-speaker CD Radio with MP3 capability, USB and auxiliary ports as well as Bluetooth capability.
However, the interior styling may not be to everyone's taste. The cloth seats in combination with contrasting plastic detailing on the doors and dashboard makes the interior look a bit tacky and the speedometer and trip computer are oddly placed directly behind the steering wheel for a squashed effect which can be quite distracting while driving. The seats offer very little support but are relatively comfortable for the average sized person, but larger and taller passengers may find the interior to be a bit cramped.
To be expected in a car of this nature, the boot is on the small side, but space can be increased by folding down the 60:40 split rear seat. Storage space in the driver's cabin is limited to three cup holders, in-door storage and the glove compartment. That said, a centre storage compartment would've been more than welcome.
Cheeky DrivePowering this Chevrolet Spark LS model is a 1.2-litre, in-line four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 60 kW and 108 Nm of torque. Around town, the Spark LS is in its element and with the help of a smooth-changing 5-speed manual transmission, the Spark nips around with ease for a vehicle of this size. Despite its dimensions the Spark feels sure-footed on the road and is quite nimble between robots making for a cheeky drive in the city.
The Chevrolet Spark is the type of car that needs to be driven enthusiastically to get the most out of the engine and at highway speed the Spark starts to sound a little rough, especially when pushed to its limit. Engine noise is something you'll have to get used to, but thankfully road and wind noise is kept to a minimum. The overall drive is relatively smooth with less body roll compared to the Mitsubishi Mirage reviewed in August. As a daily city runabout, the Chevrolet Spark does its job well.
A big selling point for the Chevrolet Spark is its fuel consumption, claimed to be 5.4-litres/100 km on the combined cycle. I drove this test model for a week and barely used a quarter tank, which is rather impressive considering the distance travelled. Depending on your travelling requirements, the Chevrolet Spark will cut your fuel costs, which is a bonus if you're a student, or a pensioner.
This Chevrolet Spark LS model comes fitted with driver and front passenger airbags as well as ABS with EBD, manual air-conditioning and remote control central locking fitted as standard.
Chevrolet Spark 1.2 LS - VerdictThe 2014 Chevrolet Spark is decent. Its improved exterior styling and standard goodies will make it that much more attractive to potential buyers. The drive is sufficiently comfortable for everyday use within the city, but longer trips may be taxing on the driver and passengers. The low fuel consumption is a big plus and if you can look past some of the interior flaws, the Chevrolet Spark is sure to provide many years of cheap, hassle-free motoring. Even so, the little Sparky is up against some stiff competition in this segment and buyers will be wise to compare the Spark with its competitors.
Second OpinionThe Chevrolet Spark is often a forgotten competitor in the B-segment rivalry. It's actually quite spacious and well specced inside in this LS version. Price is competitive but the likes of the Ford Figo and the VW Polo Vivo seem to have won consumers favour. - Ashley Oldfield
Chevrolet Spark - Price in South AfricaThe Chevrolet Spark 1.2 LS tested here is priced from R137 400. The lower spec Spark 1.2 Campus is priced from R115 900 and the and the Spark 1.2 L is priced from R126 900. The high-spec Spark LT price starts at R149 800. For cheaper options you can also consider the Spark Pronto from R112 000 and the entry-level Spark Lite from R101 200.
Chevrolet Spark 1.2 LS Specifications
|Engine||1.2-litre DOHC, 4 cylinder petrol|
|Fuel Economy||5.4-litres/100 km|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||35 L|
- Updated styling
- Smooth, nippy drive
- Low fuel consumption
- Interior styling
- Limited storage