Chevrolet Spark hatchback
Price £8,875 - £11,195
- Reasonable practicality
- High spec models get lots of kit
- Easy to drive in town
- Noisy engines
- Cheap interior
- Small boot
At a glance
"The Chevrolet Spark fulfils its role as basic city transport, though rivals offer similar space and offer better value."
The Chevrolet Spark is a budget hatchback, with small dimensions that make it suited to life in the city. Although it has smart, modern looks, the car can’t compete with fresher rivals such as the Kia Picanto and Hyundai i10.
It is cheap to run, however, thanks to a choice of two frugal petrol engines that mean it is nippy about town but not ideally suited to long motorway journeys, where it can be noisy and underpowered. Country roads aren’t going to be much fun either thanks to the Spark's soft suspension, which means that there's more body lean in the corners than you might expect.
The Spark is a practical five-door car that can, just about, fit five adults inside.
While the Chevrolet Spark may not be the best in class, it does give you a lot for the money. Even the basic models come with air conditioning, and buyers can choose to extend the car's warranty from three-years/60,000 to five-years/100,000, and opt for a fixed-price service plan.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Cheap to run, but economy and emissions fall short of rivals
While the Chevrolet Spark isn’t going to win any points for performance, it is very cheap to run. It can be had with a choice of two petrol engines – a 1.0-litre or a 1.2-litre. Both return economy of 56.5mpg and emissions of 118g/km, which means you’ll have to spend just £30 a year on road tax. Despite these figures being low, the Spark still isn’t as frugal as some of its rivals.
The smaller-engined car is cheaper to buy but the 1.2-litre petrol makes more sense if you are going to regularly use motorways – thanks to its better acceleration and higher top speed, which makes for more refined motorway cruising.
Interior & comfort
It’s not as composed as some rivals
Although the Chevrolet Spark does have five seats, space is at a premium. Five adults in the car are going to feel pretty cramped – we wouldn’t recommend trying it on long journeys. There should be plenty of space for two kids in the back, but the car's tiny 170-litre boot (a Hyundai i10 has 252 litres), means that you’ll struggle to fit much in.
The Spark's soft suspension causes plenty of body lean in the corners, but it's also jittery at low speeds, meaning city driving isn’t as comfortable as it could be. The car isn’t available with an automatic gearbox, either, so you’ll be making plenty of gear changes in town, while the cabin gets quite noisy out on the motorway.
Practicality & boot space
Interior is roomy, but boot falls short
The Chevrolet Spark's practicality is limited by the car's small dimensions, but the reality is that many of the car's rivals – such as the Hyundai i10 – offer more space inside for passengers. Its tall, thin shape means that elbow room is in particularly short supply and any adults sitting on the rear bench's middle seats are going to feel particularly squeezed. The Hyundai i10 also has a much larger boot, although dropping the Spark's split-folding rear seats increases boot space to 568 litres.
All Sparks are five-door cars, meaning rear passengers don’t need to squeeze behind the front seats to get in. The Spark has a useful number of cubby holes, too, including a decent-sized glovebox and an array of cupholders.
Reliability & safety
Fixed-price servicing keeps a lid on costs
The Chevrolet Spark didn’t feature in our 2013 Driver Power Survey but Chevrolet finished 20th (out of 32) in our manufacturer's chart. The Spark comes with a three-year/60,000 mile warranty as standard, but Chevrolet will upgrade that to a five-year/100,000mile plan at extra cost. The company also offers fixed-rate servicing plans.
The Chevrolet Spark was awarded four stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2009. At the time, it was marked down for not having stability control, something that is now fitted across the range. While the new Hyundai i10 has yet to be tested for safety, rivals such as the Volkswagen up! received a five-star rating.
Engines, drive & performance
Both engines feel underpowered on the open road
The Chevrolet Spark can be specced with either a 1.0-litre or a 1.2-litre petrol engine. Neither engine is quick but, with 68bhp, the smaller variant is the slowest, taking 15.3 seconds to get from 0-60mph. The 1.2-litre petrol gets from 0-60mph in a more respectable 12.7 seconds, but it's still not fast.
The engines’ lack of pace becomes less of an issue when you drive the Spark because although its small size makes it ideal for nipping through city streets, its upright body suffers from plenty of roll when cornering on country roads. If you’re looking for fun behind the wheel, the Volkswagen up! and Toyota Aygo are much better bets.
Price, value for money & options
Basic cars are sparsely equipped
Even the basic Chevrolet Spark gets equipment such as electric windows, and a DAB digital radio with an MP3 plug, while moving up the range brings equipment such as parking sensors, alloy wheels, as well as electric and heated door mirrors.
While the Chevrolet has quite a cheap price, and comes with the option of a five-year warranty, it won’t hold its value as well as rivals such as the Volkswagen up!.
What the others say
There are two engines to choose from, and both the 1.0- and 1.2-litre petrol-powered units have four cylinders, whereas some rivals make do with three. Neither is particularly strong, but they have just enough pep to keep up with city traffic and, as long as you're prepared to rev them hard, motorway driving isn't too challenging.
Under the bonnet, thereis a choice of 1.0 or 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engines, both mated to five-speed manual gearboxes. The smaller of the two is more impressive, offering better refinement at the top end – an area of the rev range you’ll become familiar with, thanks to the unit’s peppy power delivery.
The funky-looking Chevrolet Spark is the replacement for the Matiz, but it's a huge step forward in terms of comfort and quality. Like the car it replaces, it's a five-door that's designed to carry four adults and is ideal for city and town driving with light steering. But there are few other similarities with the Matiz. For starters, the Spark is very distinctive and bold, while inside it has a neatly styled cabin, which although not especially sophisticated, is a big improvement in terms of comfort and refinement.