There's no denying that the 2014 Chevrolet Spark is a youthful car, aimed at the vibrant millennial customers GM desperately wants to lure into showrooms. That said, when stacked against some of its supersmall-car competitors -- such as the Scion iQ, the Mitsubishi Mirage, and the Fiat 500 -- the 2014 Chevrolet Spark actually looks like a surprisingly mature choice...
The 2014 Chevrolet Spark may have been inspired by a concept shown at the 2007 New York auto show, but it wasn't necessarily designed with the American market in mind. Instead, the Spark was intended to serve as a replacement for the tiny Daewoo/Chevy Matiz. Although General Motors had indicated that the car would come stateside, it dragged its feet doing so and ultimately launched the car in North America as a 2013 model in early 2012, more than two years after the car launched in Asian and European markets.
How low can you go? That seemed to be the question that dogged GM before it finally brought the subcompact Spark to our shores in 2012. At the time, the Spark had few rivals in the market and Americans weren't exactly known for warmly embracing small cars. Then again, we'd not really been offered a supersmall hatchback with the sort of character that the Spark offers.
Inspired by a pint-size concept car from several years back, the 2014 Chevrolet Spark's design is edgy, if not a bit cartoonish. Long, large headlamp assemblies run the entire length of the front fenders, helping frame Chevy's trademark split grille. A kicked-up beltline carries into the rear doors, which hide their handles in the C-pillar trim. Opt for one of several surprising paint colors -- notably lime green, periwinkle, or pastel yellow -- and the Spark becomes all the more eye-catching.
The Spark measures twelve feet long, five feet tall, and five feet wide. That's nearly a foot shorter than the Sonic hatchback, but the Spark doesn't feel all that small -- in fact, it's not that far off from the Sonic's predecessor, the Aveo. Interior space is fairly plentiful, and there's room (and seatbelts) for four adults to sit in comfort. Cargo space, some eleven cubic feet, is better than what you'd find behind the rear seats of a Fiat 500, and those seats fold flat for larger items. Depending on the trim ordered, there might be some surprising amenities within the cabin, including heated leatherette seats, satellite radio, Onstar, Bluetooth, and a touchscreen audio system.
Perhaps the most surprising element of the Spark is its on-road persona. Its ride quality is quite compliant, even during long spells on the open highway. Its 84-hp four-cylinder has a gruff exhaust note but provides adequate pep to move the Spark along. The standard five-speed manual is perhaps the best option for wringing the most from the 1.2-liter I-4, but a continuously variable automatic transmission is optional, too. Buyers in California and Oregon also have the option of the Spark EV, which eschews the four-cylinder gasoline engine in favor of a 100-kW electric motor.
- Fiat 500
- Scion iQ
- Smart ForTwo
- Mitsubishi Mirage