Baby Chevrolet lacks spark

Think of Chevrolet and do you think of a big American car? If you do, you are behind the times and this particular Chevrolet is one of the smallest – it’s the Chevrolet Spark and it is powered by a tiny one-litre engine! So no big “coobic inches” V8 here!

The reason you may be confused is that GM purchased the former Daewoo Korean car manufacturer and promptly decided to designate Chevrolet as their worldwide brand for keenly-priced automobiles.

Chevrolet Spark

Small the Daewoo Spark certainly is. You look at it and start to wonder how they managed to design five doors into its ultra-compact dimensions. To help package as much as possible into the compact size, the Spark is a very upright design – you sit tall, rather than low.

In fact, you perch on the seats of the Spark, not in them. That means you have to physically hold yourself on the seats if you get ever so slightly enthusiastic about taking a bend or a roundabout.

Proof that the upright design style works in packaging terms, comes when you sample the rear seats. For such a small car they are remarkably reasonable for adults, although it did take an effort to tuck my knees behind the driver’s seat – I am sure he, or she, would feel my knees pushing into the seat back.

The boot is, not surprisingly, quite tiny and the hatch has to be opened with the key. Carrying a reasonable size box required the rear seat backs to be released and eased forward.

Sitting on the driving seat the interior is quite minimalist. The instruments are all contained in a pod that sits right behind the steering wheel. Indeed the car is basic, but functional – as you would expect at the price.

The test car was the Chevrolet Spark 1.0 LS which is priced at £8,695. The Spark range actually starts at £6,945, which is £1,050 cheaper than the cheapest Ford you can buy – the Ford Ka.

But that is not really a fair comparison. The Ka comes with a 1.2-litre engine, whereas the Chevrolet Spark comes with a one litre (995cc to be precise) engine. (You can get a 1.2 litre engine in the Spark, but it will cost you £9095 for the 1.2LS)

Chevrolet Spark Woody

The one they didn’t send us – the Chevrolet Spark Woody

The one-litre engine under the Spark’s bonnet does, unfortunately, lend itself to comments about ‘spark’ in its meaning of ‘liveliness’ or ‘responsiveness’. The Chevrolet Spark 1.0 LS is anything but ‘lively’ or ‘responsive’. It takes quite some effort to build up the speed. Acceleration 0-62 mph takes 15.5 seconds.

That said, once you get the momentum going, the Spark will bowl along quite happily on the dual carriageway at 60 or 70 mph. At least it will, until you reach a hill or want to accelerate away from a speed limit, or a roundabout. Then you have to start all over again, building up the momentum again.

The Chevrolet Spark 1.0 quotes a combined fuel consumption of 55 mpg. With no trip computer, can’t give any real-life mpg figures based on my driving time with it. Carbon dioxide emissions are 119 k/gm, putting the Spark into band C for UK road tax.

Chevrolet have produced what they call the Chevrolet Spark Woody, with fake wooden bodywork, to try to liven up interest in their new baby. Thank goodness they didn’t send us that one!

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