Our first impressions of the updated Chevy Spark.
Published on Jan 03, 2013 04:53:00 PM
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When Chevrolet first rolled out the Spark in 2007, it made its intentions clear with the little hatchback. The Spark was destined to be a cheap and cheerful hatchback designed specifically to provide basic transport from point A to point B. And although we know that the little hatchback is good for its intended usage, it never seemed to click with those on a strict budget in India.
That said, Chevrolet isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet, and has given its Spark a much-needed facelift. But is that enough to garner fresh interest? Chevrolet thinks so.
The majority of the Spark's restyle is at the front, where the original car’s simplistic styling has been replaced by something that’s a whole lot more ‘in your face’. Leading the list of changes here is the new two-part grille that extends onto the redesigned front bumper, linking the Spark to other cars in Chevrolet’s line-up. If anything, this should help give the Spark a more premium image. The chrome piping in the region of the grille and fog-lamp enclosures also adds a bit of flash. The clear-lens headlamps help establish this as the new Spark. Viewed from the side, it’s only the black plastics on the door sills that distinguish the updated Spark from the old one. Similarly, changes at the rear too are restricted to the addition of a black panel on the lower portion of the bumper.
The cabin, too, remains largely unchanged. The basic design of the dashboard is a carryover from the original Spark of 2007, but the plastics now come finished in a different shade of beige. A revised instrument cluster (with a digital tachometer) and new fabrics for the seats are the only other noteworthy changes. Sadly, Chevrolet has missed an opportunity to improve front-seat comfort on this update. As before, the seat base slopes slightly downwards and this can be quite uncomfortable on long drives. However, even so many years after launch, the Spark’s rear seat continues to impress with space and comfort, bettering the Alto on this vital count. Boot space though is quite compromised and you’ll be best off packing light.
Styling update and minor changes to the cabin apart, the new Spark is pretty much the same car as before. Chevrolet has not tinkered with any of the car’s mechanicals, so it drives just like the Sparks of old. What that means is you get a smooth and linear power delivery from its 63bhp, 1.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine. Sure, the Spark is not particularly fast, but overall performance is more than acceptable for a city car. Helping the Spark’s city car credentials is its feather-light clutch that is allied with an equally light, if slightly notchy, five-speed gearbox.
The Spark’s excellent manoeuvrability and its steering requires little effort to turn, which will make it very appealing for first-time car buyers. Ride quality and stability are also pretty impressive for a car of this class. In terms of economy, you can expect 12.3kpl in the city and 16.9kpl out on the highway. You also have the option of buying the Spark with a factory-fitted LPG kit. Interestingly, the Spark LPG is only available in the higher LS and LT trim levels. The base Spark (Rs 3.26 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi) is only offered in petrol guise. In terms of features and pricing, the Spark is at par with the competition. The top-spec LT model that costs Rs 3.81 lakh gets decent kit with power windows on all four doors, power steering, internally adjustable rear-view mirrors, rear defogger and an MP3 CD player with Aux and USB input. However, airbags are not offered even as an option.
So in conclusion, the new Spark holds on to its core strengths of being a city-friendly and easy-to-drive car with a comfortable back seat. It now has more flamboyant styling, it still offers good value, is fuel efficient and thanks to Chevrolet’s service incentives, should be cheap to maintain as well. All in all, the Spark maintains its status as one of the best hatchbacks to buy for those on a tight budget.
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