Chevrolet Spark

Debut: 2015
Maker: General Motors
Predecessor: Spark (2009)

 Published on 18 Mar 2016 All rights reserved. 

The Chevrolet Spark is the twins sister of Opel Karl, although it looks a little bit different both outside and inside. Like the Opel, it is developed and built in South Korea, which is the global hub of GM’s small cars. The Chevrolet version looks a bit more angular, but underneath the sheet metal are the same monocoque structure and running gears. Ditto most switchgears and infotainment system inside the cabin. I wonder why not simply merge them into a single car.

Compared with the last generation Spark, the new car has the same footprint, but it is a little bit lower. Despite that, its interior offers more room, thanks to better packaging and mounting the seats lower. For an A-segment mini car, it is remarkably spacious, capable to squeeze 4 adults into the cabin without much complaint. Build quality is not bad for a small car either. It’s no Fiat 500 or Volkswagen Up, of course, so hard plastics are used throughout the cabin. However, the parts feel well screwed together. The dashboard has some style – well, at least it did try to be stylish. There are some chromed and colored plastics to brighten the atmosphere. Moreover, it is standard fitted with a 7-inch color touchscreen and MyLink system, which supports both Apple Carplay and Android Auto, so it is easy to work with your mobile phones.

Ridiculously, the chassis of Chevrolet seems to be better tuned than its German sister. It is neither too sloppy nor too harsh. The suspension is just firm enough to keep body roll in check without destroying ride comfort. It is well damped on undulations, only large potholes catch it out. On wider (185/55) tires it offers more grip than the Opel, yet it preserves the throttle adjustability. It understeers when being pushed into corner, but lift off the throttle and its nose tuck back into the desired line. The electrical power steering has not much feel, but it is linearly weighted and free of kickback.

Another thing overwhelming the Opel is engine. Instead of a small 3-cylinder, the Chevrolet version employs a new all-alloy 1.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder. It is not particularly sophisticated, but with the extra cylinder and displacement it produces enough power (98 hp) and torque (94 lbft) to propel the 1020 kg car from 0-60 mph in high-10-seconds range, far quicker than the Karl. Gearchange of the 5-speed manual is not world-class, but at least its close ratios aid response. On the downside, the engine is vocal when stretched. There seems to be more sound insulation used in the Spark, but it is still not exactly a refined small car by today’s standards.

Being practical in most areas, the Spark is certainly worth considering by buyers of entry-level small cars. However, like its German sister, it is short of character and desirability, so it is hard to recommend.

Length / width / height
Valve gears
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3635 / 1595 / 1485 mm
2385 mm
1399 cc
DOHC 16 valves, VVT
98 hp
94 lbft
5-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
1020 kg
112 mph (est)
10.8 (est)

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