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The Top Gear car review:Chevrolet Spark
For:Unique styling, pricing on some models
Against:Tall body makes for a fair bit of bodyroll
1.2i LS+ 5dr
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What we say:
If you can deal with the badge, the Spark's an interesting option. And way better than the Matiz
What is it?
The Spark is Chevrolet’s replacement for the Matiz, which was surprisingly popular given how absolutely awful it was. Fear not, though, as the Spark is a step-up from the humdrum mediocrity of the Matiz. The Spark first appeared as the controversially styled Beat Concept at the 2007 New York Auto Show, and impressively went into production looking virtually unchanged. Well, except it spawned a couple of extra doors – there is no three-door available. But the looks are good news for Chevy buyers – this part of the market is hugely crowded, but the Spark at least allows you to stand out a bit.
There’s nothing going to surprise you about the Spark’s handling. It’s a tall car, it’s got quite small engines, so it rolls a lot in corners and is not very fast. As such, if you’re after the handling option in this class, head for a Fiat 500. Or the old Ford Ka – now that thing drove well.
But don’t dismiss the Spark because of this. For starters, it rides better than a lot of the class and because you sit quite high up, the visibility is pretty good as well. The engines need to be worked hard on the motorway, but they’re perfectly OK around town. But they’re not especially high-tech units – the 1.0-litre only manages 55.4mpg, as does the 1.2, and neither will better 119g/km of CO2. Which would have been fine 10 years ago, but now there are a lot of cars which manage
better figures, some even from two class sizes above the Spark.
On the inside
There’s plenty of space in the cabin, but the boot could do with being a tad bigger – it’s only 170 litres, meaning others in the class are more practical. The design and build quality in the cabin don’t
do anything outstanding, but the single speedo ‘pod’ in front of the steering wheel is at least unique. If only the Spark came a bit better specced. We’re not expecting leather and sat nav at these sort of prices, but the most basic trim level makes do with wind-up windows and no central locking. You’ll need to stretch to the + trim to get hold of those as standard.
Chevrolet has jumped on the bandwagon and is now offering the Spark with a five-year, 100,000- mile warranty. Which is a great deal in a car which can cost as little as £7,215. But Chevrolet needed to step up to the mark. The company formerly known as Daewoo hails from the same part of the world as Kia and Hyundai, and we all know how stunning the warranties are from those two manufacturers. A lack of stop/start means the fuel consumption and CO2 figures aren’t as good as they couldbe in a car this size.