Chevrolet Spark Performance
Although the 2013 Chevrolet Spark’s engine is small and weak, most reviewers are pleased with the Spark’s overall performance. Several test drivers say the Spark handles bumpy roads and stop-and-go traffic well. On the highway, auto critics say the Spark’s engine is easily overwhelmed and that the car is blown around by larger, fast-moving vehicles. While the Spark’s fuel economy ratings are good, some test drivers are disappointed that they aren’t higher, especially since the Spark is a subcompact car that isn’t very powerful.
- "Performance is modest though, let's be clear, in this segment the Spark more than holds its own." -- Road and Track
Acceleration and Power
The Chevrolet Spark comes with a 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 84 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a four-speed automatic is optional. With the manual transmission, the Spark averages 32/38 mpg city/highway and 28/37 mpg with the automatic.
Of its subcompact competitors, the Spark’s horsepower rating is topped by the Fiat 500 and Scion iQ. Reviewers do find, however, that the Spark starts robustly from a stop and scoots around the city easily, though it struggles at highway speeds. Test drivers prefer the manual transmission for its smooth shifts.
- "The throws of the five-speed manual gearbox are smooth if a bit too light (there's also a four-speed automatic)." -- Automobile Magazine
- "It's no firecracker, but the engine felt sufficient in stop-and-go traffic and during short blasts along the notoriously chaotic Brooklyn-Queens Expressway." -- Road and Track
- "With 84 horsepower and 83 pound-feet of torque, the little 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine gets the 2350-pound Spark through first gear reasonably quickly. It slows beyond that but never sounds strained, and it's sufficient for urban commuting." -- Car and Driver
- "The Spark underachieves on highway mileage because it is not aerodynamically slippery. The Spark is tall, narrow and stubby, which isn't good for airflow. But it gets outstanding city mileage because it weighs just 2,300 pounds, making it more efficient in stop-and-go driving." -- The Detroit News
- "It is not the least bit speedy." -- The Washington Post
Handling and Braking
Though test drivers don’t comment on the Spark’s braking abilities, they’re pleased with its steering, which delivers good feedback. More than one reviewer adds that the Spark’s ride quality is very good and remains composed over bumpy urban streets, though one reviewer says the opposite. At higher speeds, critics noticed that the Spark is easily tossed around when larger vehicles pass it.
- "The steering is quick, precise, and provides better feedback than we've experienced in other small cars with electric steering and, just as important, doesn't get twitchy at higher speeds." -- Automobile Magazine
- "The Spark was surprisingly stable over the potholes, dips and humps designed into the road. I had expected the rear end to swing out over a series of chatter bumps built into a sweeping 60 mph turn, but the rear suspension absorbed the disturbance and kept the tires planted." -- The Detroit News
- "Its ride, handling, and steering aren't unlike that in the soft and springy Fiat 500 - the standard model, not the Abarth." -- Motor Trend
- "Steering is easy. Steering response is instant and accurate. The ride is choppy on poorly maintained streets, as is the case with most small cars." -- The Washington Post
- "Hopefully they will notice how well controlled the Spark's ride is, although the car does suffer from the sway inherent in vehicles whose proportions approximate those of other cars tipped onto their sides." -- Car and Driver
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