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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
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.
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.