The 2013 Spark is a sporty four-passenger, five-door hatchback that competes with other mini-cars such as the Fiat 500, Smartfortwo and the Scion iQ. It is designed to appeal to city dwellers where fuel efficiency and maneuverability are prime considerations.
Spark looks like a three-door hatchback, but rear door handles are cleverly disguised by integrating them into the C-pillar area. That gives Spark a sporty appearance without sacrificing five-door comfort and utility. A rear spoiler enhances Spark’s appearance and improves aerodynamics. Spark’s two-tier grille and bowtie logo preserve Chevrolet’s signature look.
Our test car was painted Jalapeno green and it turned heads and prompted questions wherever we went. Other attention-grabbing finishes include Salsa Red, Denim, Lemonade and Techno Pink.
Inside a motorcycle-like column-mounted instrument cluster has a large, LCD screen that gives you information that’s easy to view at a glance. Ice blue ambient lighting provides a premium look.
The cargo area has 11.4 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 31.2 with the rear seat folded. The rear seat folds down 60-40 to allow long items, such as skis, to be transported along with a rear-seat passenger.
Spark is powered by an Ecotec 1.25L dual-overhead cam four-cylinder engine. With continuously variable valve timing it delivers 84 horsepower. It’s mated to a standard five-speed manual transmission, or an optional four-speed automatic.
Spark gets an EPA-estimated 34 mpg in combined city and highway driving with the manual transmission, and 32 mpg with the automatic. It also has the lowest estimated fuel cost of any Chevrolet small car, except the Volt, and uses regular unleaded fuel.
Spark’s tight and stiff unibody structure, MacPherson strut front suspension and electric power steering connect you with the road and provide good overall stability. Anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and hill start assist are standard.
Spark is equipped with vented front disc and rear drum brakes. Pedal resistance felt good, but there was no chance to evaluate stopping performance. Low rolling-resistance tires use a silica compound and revised tread design for a solid road feel and improved fuel efficiency. A tight turning circle of 32.5 feet enhances maneuverability in tight urban areas.
Spark has a new infotainment system called My-Link. It consists of a seven-inch color touch screen, AM/FM/SiriusXM Satellite Radio stereo with seek-and-scan, digital clock, Bluetooth streaming audio for music and select phones, six speakers and voice recognition for connected phones with this capability.
MyLink Radio operates by integrating the owner’s compatible smartphone and stored media via Bluetooth, plug-in outlet or USB with the radio. This lets you enjoy simple, safe and personalized connectivity while your smartphone is stowed. MyLink-equipped Spark models come with two apps: Pandora internet radio and Stitcher Smart Radio.
Spark has won safety awards in both Europe and Korea, where it is already on the road. Its safe design begins with a strong, body-frame-integral structure. High-strength steel makes up more than 62 percent of the Spark’s underbody and 42 percent of its upper body.
In addition to crash-avoidance technologies such as stability control and ABS, Spark is equipped with 10 standard air bags, including both driver and passenger front knee air bags to reduce the risk of lower extremity injuries in frontal crashes. Dual-stage frontal air bags, seat-mounted side air bags and side curtain air bags that extend over the front and rear seating rows are also standard.
Spark is the only mini-car covered by a five-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty, which also includes roadside assistance and courtesy transportation. In addition to powertrain coverage, Spark is backed by a three-year/36,000-mile comprehensive warranty and a six-year/100,000-mile rust-through warranty.
Prices range from $12,995 to $16,820.