The Chevrolet Spark, a firm favourite around the world since it was introduced in 1998, recently won the Best Value for Money category of the Associated Magazines’ Women Car of the Year competition.
The Women’s Car of the Year competition was launched in July by Associated Magazines, via their popular Women on Wheels (WOW) supplement in the Cosmopolitan, O The Oprah Magazine, House & Leisure and Marie Claire magazines.
The finalists were selected with the WOW market in mind. – Fun, funky, off-beat vehicles and not necessarily mainstream or best-selling vehicles, were deliberately chosen. Apart from the four judges – Charleen Clarke, Fenly Foxen, Peta Lee and myself – WOW readers cast their votes on the Nedbank Vehicle and Asset Finance website – there were over 32 000 entries.
A closer look at the Chevy Spark
Available in over 70 countries, the concept is quite simple – a small, practical, easy to drive car with an attractive price tag!
There are many ways to describe the Spark’s styling and if you ask women what stands out, they all say “the smiling face”.
The Spark had a face lift last year and the new modern, dynamic styling makes it seem a bit more grown up although it has retained its cheeky, happy expression.
The designers developed the Spark’s cute looks into a more modern yet contemporary style without including overly funky ‘fashion’ features that would age the car quickly.
Striking and slightly offbeat interior
The most striking feature in the interior is the cockpit – the main instrument cluster in a central console position, while the information lights are grouped in a half moon display directly in front of the driver. The modern design sees a more robust and sturdy facia with centre mounted instruments and circular design features such as the air-vents resulting in a slightly offbeat look.
Now with bigger boot and more space inside
The increased height of completely new seats have allowed the seating positions to be adjusted for more comfort, whilst at the same time providing an increased trunk capacity (up from 145-litres to 170-litres) and more internal storage spaces.
The Spark is available in three model variants – The 0.8-litre L (R64 300), the 1.0-litre LS (R77 660) and 1.0-litre LT (R86 230).
Engine and performance
The Spark L is powered by the same 800cc three-cylinder fuel injected engine carried over from its predecessor. The five-speed manual transmission that drives the front wheels, ensures it is nippy and a pleasure to drive around town – it is responsive and has a very light gear change.
The Spark LS and LT derivatives are powered by a 1-litre, four cylinder SOHC engine. Thanks to the efficient catalytic converter, both engines comply to Euro 2 emission regulations.
Handling and safety
The ultra-compact dimensions make the Chevy Spark extremely manoeuvrable – a major advantage in urban traffic. It is just shy of 3.5m and has a turning circle of just over nine metres so fits into even the smallest parking space.
Safety has not been ignored in the pursuit of developing this lightweight, nippy vehicle. The Spark meets all the EEC safety requirements with carefully designed energy absorbing zones that provide protection in a front or side impact.
The Spark LT also has ABS as a standard feature as well as driver and passenger side airbags. A driver side airbag is also standard on the LS model.
Its four wide opening doors with low sills mean easy access, even in the tightest of car parks and once inside, there’s plenty of room for four adults.
Special attention has been paid to small storage areas for the driver’s convenience, such as the door pockets, the sunglasses holder and the under seat storage on the LS and LT models.
The Spark L offers a comfortable interior with full cloth seats, an immobiliser and various small touches such as intermittent windscreen wipers and a remote fuel flap opener. It also has a full size spare wheel.
The LS model’s standard features include air-conditioning, key operated central locking, electric windows, remote tailgate opening and adjustable rear view mirrors, as well as a driver’s seat height adjuster. On the LS the rear seat backrest is split for more loading flexibility.
Top of the pops, the LT model has a few extras – such as power steering, fog lamps front and rear, headrests and remote operated central locking with an integral alarm.
All the models come with a three year or 100 000km warranty and roadside assistance.