Chevrolet Spark

By | June 1, 2014

The Chevrolet Spark minicar is the smallest vehicle ever sold in the U.S. as a Chevy, and it’s something of an experiment for the bow-tie brand better known for full-size pickup trucks, sport-utility vehicles, and larger sedans.

Launched as a 2013 model, the littlest Chevrolet is a full car class smaller than the subcompact Sonic, classifying it as a minicar. That puts in competition with an odd array of cars from the tiny two-seat Smart ForTwo and three-seat Scion iQ to the sportier MINI Cooper and Fiat 500 three-door hatchbacks.

Because it’s pitched at entry-level buyers and younger adults who don’t feel the need for anything big but want the cool factor and digital connectivity of the latest model, we think the Chevrolet Spark will also compete with various subcompact Scion models, the wildly successful Kia Soul, and perhaps even pricier quirky small cars like the Nissan Juke.

The Spark is just 145 inches long, and comes with a single engine choice: an 85-horsepower, 1.2-liter four-cylinder paired with a standard five-speed manual gearbox. A simple four-speed automatic transmission is a $925 option.

You can fit four adults into the Spark, though they will sit upright, close, and with the knees of back-seat riders touching the slim front seats. But as a five-door hatchback, entry and exit is easier–despite the small door openings–than it would be into the even-smaller rear seats of the MINI or Fiat. The dashboard is simple, but the Spark comes standard with the Chevrolet MyLink connectivity system, offering apps for Pandora internet radio and Stitcher Smart Radio..

In its first year on sale, Chevy offers the Spark in three trim levels, starting at about $13,000. The base LS model comes standard with air conditioning, power windows, rear wiper, trip computer, 15-inch alloy wheels, a flip-forward 60/40 split folding rear seat, and Onstar built in.

The mid-level 1LT model includes power locks, power mirrors, cruise control, an audio system with a 7-inch color touch screen, steering-wheel audio controls, Bluetooth pairing, and satellite radio. The top-of-the-line 2LT level adds different alloy wheels, trim upgrades, and even heated seats. Chevrolet plans to add the GogoLink embedded navigation and real-time traffic application later in the model year.

The Spark comes in an array of colors, including several sherbert ice-cream shades that yellow, pink, lime green, and sky blue. That alone sets it apart from the primary colors of the Fiat 500, the two-tone roof of the MINI, or the tiny proportions of the Smart or Scion. But it’s also a more practical car in many ways than any of those vehicles, and for buyers who aren’t impressed by size–who want minimal but cheerful wheels to use mostly around town–the little Chevy occupies a niche almost its own.

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