The Spark is a small car and it likewise makes due with a small engine. Displacing 1.4L, the 4-cylinder powerplant in the Spark makes 98 hp, which may not sound like much until one realizes that the engine is only burdened with 2300 lbs to pull around. Power is sent to the front wheels through either a 5-speed manual or a CVT transmission. The resulting acceleration is peppy, but more importantly to most buyers, the Chevrolet Spark is able to achieve up to 41 mpg on the highway.
The Spark comes in three different trims, each available with an automatic or a manual transmission. Equipment on even the Base LS models is somewhat generous. A 7-inch LCD touchscreen dominates the dashboard, housing the stereo and the standard rearview camera. Bluetooth is standard and of course a USB input port is present as well. The Spark is also equipped with a Siri Eyes Free mode allowing drivers to keep their eyes on the road when interacting with the stereo or their telephone. A 6-month subscription to Chevrolet's OnStar service is also included.
The Spark 1LT improves on the features in the base LS by adding a 6-speaker stereo and a 3-month subscription to SiriusXM Satellite radio. Other standard features include remote keyless entry, power door locks, power mirrors, 15-inch wheels, fog lamps, steering wheel mounted audio controls and cruise control.
The top of the line Spark 2LT includes a Driver Information Center, displayed through the 7-inch screen, with pertinent information that should help drivers get the best mileage with an Eco Drive Assist mode. The interior of the 2LT is spruced up with the addition of chrome interior door handles, heated front seats, a leather steering wheel, push button start and leatherette seating surfaces. The exterior of the 2LT also gets a bit more bling with several chrome accents that are absent on other Spark models.
Small cars are generally seen as being more dangerous than their bigger counterparts, however the Chevrolet spark combats this assumption with 10 standard airbags, stability control, traction control and 4-wheel antilock brakes. Available active safety features include a forward collision alert system, a lane departure warning system and a side blind spot alert system.
Chevrolet introduced an electric-only version of the Spark in 2014, called the Spark EV. Powered by a 105-kilowatt electric motor producing up to 327 lb-ft. of torque, the Spark EV is still rated to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds and capable of 82 miles of cruising range. Spark EV models are available in 1LT and 2LT trims.
The Spark EVs come with 15-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, air conditioning, heated seats and a 7-inch touchscreen interface. A 6-speaker sound system with smartphone integration and OnStar are also standard.
Charging can be done either with a conventional 240V outlet in about 7 hours, but Chevrolet's special DC fast-charger can get the battery to 80% in only 20 minutes.
While reviewing the, I drove the 85 miles from San Francisco to Sacramento to test the freeway-worthiness of its little 1.25-liter engine. Driving the 2014 Chevy Spark EV, with its EPA-rated 82-mile range, I couldn't pull off that long of a trip.
As a subcompact, the Spark makes a good package for GM's first pure-electric car since, and it has the right model name for an electric. However, its performance specs are on par with the majority of current electric vehicles, making it suitable only as an urban or suburban runabout.
Just over 12 feet long, this little car felt surprisingly roomy from the front seats, and it even has a set of rear doors. Finding the handles for those doors might prove troublesome, as the black plastic to the rear of the side window disguises them. Chevy cleverly embeds plastic cup holders between the rear seats, an unsubtle hint that the Spark EV can lug four, not five, well-fed passengers around town.
The Good A potent drivetrain gives the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV much more power than its gasoline-powered equivalent, and better efficiency. With an iPhone, the steering-wheel-mounted voice command button routes to Siri, enabling functions such as navigation and music selection over Bluetooth.
The Bad The range comes in at under 100 miles, typical for an electric car, limiting the Spark EV's all-around usefulness. Low-rolling-resistance tires offer iffy traction.
The Bottom Line Like other electric cars, the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV offers limited usage scenarios due to its range, but its drivetrain is ultraefficient and surprisingly powerful.
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