A new breed of budget car
Make no mistake about it, the Chevrolet Spark is a pioneer in the domestic city car class. Back when everyone was focused on small 4-door saloon cars, Chevrolet was already marketing the Spark as one of the most affordable in the market, and that was 12 years ago.
Today, things have changed greatly in the city car class. There are Chinese brands in the market, and have offered their own models in the class, though some are directly “inspired” by the Spark (AKA: Daewoo Matiz). Even the big Japanese players in the market want in on the action, and so, they launched their own contenders in the budget category.
Chevrolet needed to meet the new challenges in a critical price range, and so now, we have the fourth generation of the Spark. And it definitely shows how far Chevrolet has come.
The body is less edgy than before, exuding a more moderated and more mature interpretation of the Spark’s design. I like the new family face, the larger lower intake, and the sophisticated headlamps outlined with LED daylight-running lamps. They preserved the three-door illusion by placing the exterior doorhandles for the rear seat high up on the windows, right next to the C-pillar.The back is likewise clean, and wraps up the look very nicely.
Frankly, the whole ensemble gives the Spark a presence above and beyond what an A-segment car should have. And they even played around with the names of the colors such as Black Meet Kettle, Brimstone, Son of a Gun Gray Metallic, and Pull Me Over Red. This one is called Mint My Mind.
The interior definitely is a cut above the predecessor, and even many of its competitors. The dash is clean and crafted nicely, while a piano black accent panel takes the place of the body color-keyed trim of old; a nod to the newfound maturity of the Spark line. The door panels look and feel to be of better quality, and even has the same piano-black accents with chrome doorhandles. The materials they use appear to be of better quality; yes, it’s still plastic, but not plasticky.
The steering wheel is all-new, and doesn’t look like it was shortchanged for budget constraints with audio and Bluetooth controls. I like the centralized “pod” for the aircon and the 7-inch MyLink touchscreen multimedia system, cleverly organizing the controls for two of the most important convenience systems in the car. What I do miss is the motorcycle-style gauge pod of the previous Spark; it just has a bit more character.
The seats are comfortable, which is good for urban driving. The back has good legroom, and is likewise comfortable for long drives. The trunk can accommodate 195 liters of cargo but the fold-down mechanism could be better, as the rear seats only fold to an angle of 45 degrees. Not really useful for cargo like cakes and such.
The new engine is a big improvement for the Spark. While most A-cars have engines anywhere between 800cc and 1.2 liters, the Spark gets a 1.4-liter twin-cam 16-valve four cylinder. That engine means it has 99 bhp and 94 lb ft of torque.
The new Spark is perhaps the most enjoyable daily drive compared to the others in the category.
The car is heavier than before at 1049 kilos, but that wasn’t a problem engine. The powertrain, particularly the good CVT, provides improved acceleration, especially in the uphill portions. When driven at an average city speed of 23 km/h, fuel economy was at 10.2 km/l. On the highway, that goes up still to 14.9 km/l if you’re not overtaking so much (87 km/h average speed).
The manners of the Spark have likewise improved. The ride over tarmac is very good for a short wheelbase minicar, and even on our roughly ribbed concrete. Tire noise seems to be better mitigated than before. On a handling road, the Spark does manage quite well. The car is nimble, and you can have a lot of fun tossing it around corners. The suspension has a good balance about it, and is far better than the bounciness of the previous generation. The electric power steering doesn’t really have much feedback, but that’s not important if you’re using the Spark for getting groceries, running errands, and taking the kids to school.
In almost every single aspect, the Chevrolet Spark has truly improved. Design, safety, quality, performance, and so much more. It does, however, come at a price: at PhP 763,888, the Spark is at the high end of the spectrum for an A-car; actually, it’s already in B-car territory. Still, it’s a great little car, especially if you want something that stands out a bit more as you do your daily drive in the city.
Car Model: 2017 Chevrolet Spark LTZ
Engine: Inline-4, 1399 cc, dohc, 16V, DVVT, CVT
Max Power (bhp @ rpm): 98 bhp @ 6200 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm): 94 lb ft @ 4400 rpm
0-100 km/h [or 0-62 mph](sec): 11.1 sec.
Top Speed (km/h): 160 km/h (100 mph)
Fuel Milage (km/L): 12.6 km/L Combined
Price as Tested (PhP): PhP 763,888.00
What’s Great +: Full spectrum upgrade
What’s Not So -: Big price hike
C! Editors Rating: 8.5 / 10