2013 Chevrolet Spark review

* Revised Chevrolet Spark driven * Gets tweaked looks and an updated interior * On sale now, priced from 8695...

2013 Chevrolet Spark review

When the Chevrolet Spark was launched in 2010, it didn't have many obvious rivals to compete with. Since then, though, it's been pushed progressively down the pecking order by newer and more complete city cars, such as the Fiat Panda, Skoda Citigo and VW Up.

In the face of this tougher competition, Chevrolet has updated the Spark in the hope of boosting its appeal.

While there are no mechanical changes, there is a new front bumper and grille that combine with restyled headlights to create a more aggressive look. Inside, the centre console has been redesigned to incorporate extra storage.

What's the 2013 Chevrolet Spark like to drive?
The entry-level Spark comes with a 1.0-litre petrol engine, but we tried the 1.2, which is standard on mid- and top-spec cars.

This four-cylinder engine responds that little bit more quickly to throttle inputs than the three-cylinder units in some rivals. However, while it feels lively enough in town, you need to rev it hard to keep pace with traffic on faster roads.

Refinement suffers as a result. Plus the Spark feels nervous at speed because it's steering becomes light, and there's a large dead zone around the straight-ahead.

Just as irritatingly, the steering is heavier than it should be at parking speeds, and the Spark's body tends to lurch around in a rather uncontrolled way through tight bends.

However, the steering wheel is easy enough to turn when you're in slow-moving traffic, and the up side of the soft suspension is a ride that's generally comfortable.

What's the 2013 Chevrolet Spark like inside?
The dashboard is smartly styled, and it features chunky buttons and knobs that are easy to use. However, all of the plastics are hard and the door pulls feel flimsy, so there's no disguising the fact that this is a budget car.

Some people might struggle to find a comfortable driving position, too, due to the limited adjustment for the seat and steering wheel.

Meanwhile, the rear seats are more suited to kids than adults, because kneeroom is tight.

The boot is smaller than a Fiat Panda's or Volkswagen Up's, let alone a Dacia Sandero's, plus it has a high lip and small opening. Still, it's not all bad news, because there are lots of handy cubbies in the cabin.

Entry-level cars also come with six airbags and a four-speaker stereo with a USB socket, although you do have to upgrade to LT trim for air-conditioning and remote central locking.

Range-topping LTZ cars also come with stability control, alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and electrically adjustable door mirrors.

Should I buy one
The Spark doesn't feel like a terrible car when driven in isolation, but it's hard to recommend when you consider how many superior cars are available for similar money. The VW Up/Seat Mii/Skoda Citigo trio are all much better buys, while the Dacia Sandero is also worth a look if you could use some extra space.

The fact the Spark finished last (out of 116 cars) in the 2013 JD Power Satisfaction Survey is also a major cause for concern.

What Car? says

Dacia Sandero

Engine size 1.0-litre petrol
Price from 8695
Power 67bhp
Torque 69lb ft
0-62mph 15.5 seconds
Top speed 96mph
Fuel economy 55.4mpg
CO2 emissions 119g/km

Engine size 1.2-litre petrol
Price 9815
Power 80bhp
Torque 82lb ft
0-62mph 12.1 seconds
Top speed 102mph
Fuel economy 55.4-56.5mpg
CO2 emissions 118-119g/km

By Steve Huntingford

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