By Cars.com EditorsOctober 15, 2012
About the video
Consumers might shy away from Chevy’s tiny Spark because of its compact dimensions (and awful pink color, in our case), but looks are deceiving, says Cars.com reviewer David Thomas.
(upbeat music) <v Announcer>Cars.com Auto Review. Can cars get much smaller than this? I'm Dave Thomas at Cars.com, and this is a 2013 Chevy Spark.
It's called a micro car, and all that means is it's actually smaller than a subcompact car like the Ford Fiesta or Chevy's own Sonic. But don't let the looks and the awful paint color fool you, it drives much bigger than its size. With just 84 horsepower coming from a tiny 1.2 liter 4-cylinder engine, you would think the Spark would feel underpowered, it doesn't, it might not be zippy, but the four-speed automatic transmission drew raves from our editors for quick shifts that get you up to speed. And while Chevy sells this as a city car, perfect to park in small parking spots, it's drivable on the highway too. It feels secure on the road up to about 70 miles per hour. And I drove it through some heavy rain on one commute with no reservations. The only performance glitch, when you take into account this car's size, comes from it's short wheel base. That means you move up and down quite a bit when traveling at high speeds. After about 40 minutes of highway driving, my stomach was ready for an off ramp. So just how small is it? Well, if you're familiar with the MINI Cooper, it's only a couple inches shorter than that. And it's about a foot shorter than a Fiesta or Sonic. When you're talking to micro cars, it's pretty big. It's two feet longer than Scion's iQ. The big size surprise comes inside where it has much more passenger volume than Scion's iQ. And believe it or not, it has just a little bit more passenger volume than Ford's Fiesta subcompact. It's the head room and leg room that are competitive with subcompacts, so it's roomy there. But where the Spark comes up short, so to say, is in hip room and shoulder room. So when you actually have other people in here, you're a little bit too close than you want to be. There's also 11.4 cubic feet of cargo with the seats up, which is more than three times the size of the iQ. But it does come up short of those larger subcompacts, I easily fit large bags of lawn fertilizer in there, but did have a hard time just getting a potted plant to fit. Folding the seats isn't a seamless operation either. To get them flat, you have to flip the seat bottoms forward. And remember when you put them back in place to grab the belt buckles, 'cause they can get stuck underneath. Like the size, the Sparks price is small too. It starts around $12,000 for a base model. It comes a quick with alloy wheels, air conditioning and power windows. Which is kind of unusual for the class. Move up to the 1LT model though, or higher, at around $14,000, and you get this really cool multimedia system. It's designed to work with a smartphone. So plug it in with the USB and you get full control of your music, including album artwork. Now, it also uses Bluetooth audio streaming and obviously Bluetooth for your phone. But it also has apps, they're currently apps for music, but in a few months there'll be an app for navigation as well, it's about $50, you download it for your iPhone or Android device, and it displays a navigation system right here. So you get the full seven-inch touchscreen with navigation, but it's actually being run through your phone, not the car. Every editor who drove the Spark was impressed with, well, how it drove. But I don't know if it really won them over or it just beat expectations because of how it looks. But if you're shopping for an affordable city car, Chevy made this car just for you. <v Announcer>For more car related news, go to Cars.com or our blog KickingTires.net.