Way back in 2007, General Motors India launched the replacement for the Daewoo Matiz, namely the Chevrolet Spark in India. The Chevrolet Spark was actually the name for some other vehicle in Europe but then in India it is for the small car from the General’s stables. Now, I remember having a go at it while I was working in a BPO. A friend of mine named Chetan used to bring it to office and during break timings, he used to take me downstairs and we used to check out the features of the car. Now, at that time, I did find it very difficult to even get into the car. The very reason are not the ergonomics of the car but my oversize 6 foot 4 inches frame. Well, then when some one in the office suggested that we review the Chevrolet Spark in India, I was game for it but then with some apprehensions about my fitting the driver’s seat which was next to impossible. If I wanted to get into the driver’s seat, I would have to practise aerobics for atleast 10 years. So instead, we got the Chevy Spark from one of my office colleague and asked him to drive the car around and appraise us according to his views.
After the Daewoo Matiz made an unceremonious exit from the Indian market scene, there was a void left by it. There was no other cutsey small car in the budget segment. The Chevrolet Spark is built on the same platform and the large head lamps are testimony to the fact that this car wants the people to remember it as a modern Matiz. It is actually a mono form design. On the bonnet sits the Chevy bowtie logo. There is a small aperture near the bonnet for the air intake which looks like a design oversight. The air dam and radiator grille are fused into one and the fog lamps are embedded deep into the bumper. The turn indicators are also integrated along with the head lamps.
The 155/70 R13 tubeless tyres are standard across the range but then only the top end LT version with options pack gets 13 inch alloy wheels. The body colored outside rear view mirrors are also curvaceous. The door handles are also body colored whereas the roof rails are black. These give the car a sporty look.
The rear end is also well rounded off and the car gets the kite shaped tail lamps. There is a provision for rear fog lamps as well(thoughtful, eh!). There is also a single wiper doing duties at the rear. Overall the rounded design element adds to the look of the car elevates the design theme to the next level.
This was the first car in the country after a long time which had the instrument cluster in the center and its gets a fuel gauge, speedometer as well as tripmeter. Infact, the only other centrally mounted instrument cluster cars are the Tata Indica Vista and Toyota Etios. This design element has been so incorporated so that this car can easily be exported to left hand as well as right hand drive markets. Moreover, each and every occupant in the car can keep a watchout for the speedo as well as fuel gauge. I can’t say anything about the comfort factor of the seats because remember yours truly can’t even get into the seats. As far as my colleague goes, he was all praise for this small car. My colleague has got a height of 5 foot 7 inches and this car suits him to the T. The all grey interiors didn’t find my favor. What I can vouch for is the build quality. This built to price small car doesn’t feel flimsily built. That it has been winning the JD power customer satisfaction survey as far as build quality is concerned is testimony to this fact. The two spoke steering wheel is a similar unit as was in the old Matiz whereas the wiper and light control stalks are placed opposite to what we are used to.
The rear seats were something in which I could atleast attempt to sit with my knees banging hard against the front seats. Wish they had provided for a knee scoop like the Maruti Alto K10 model. The seats can be split 60:40 but then they cannot be folded completely. The air conditioner is one weak link in the Chevrolet Spark’s package with it taking a bit longer than usual to cool the cabin. The boot space is only 170 liters but then what else can you expect from such a small car.
Handling and ride quality
The Chevrolet Spark in India boasts of torsion beam rear axle and this is mated with semi trailing arms and angled shock absorbers. The ride quality around town was a bit stiff which my colleague also supported with. It isn’t softly sprung as I thought it would be. With one more of my friend plonking himself into the back seat, the ride was reasonably comfortable. But then at high speeds, the car is totally unfazed by crosswinds inspite of its monoform structure and tall design. There is lack of wind noise but then at a bit higher speeds, there is a bit of tyre and road noise creeping into the small cabin.
Now, the handling is something which I have to totally depend upon on my colleague’s opinion. He was of the view that this is really a fun car to drive. This coming from a guy who also owns a Honda Civic should definitely make sense. He said that the steering wheel is exactly caliberated like the one in the Matiz and this makes nip-tuck affair in the traffic a light scene. The steering wheel also returns good feedback, is what he told me. Even on the highway, it is confidence inspiring. Its small turning diameter makes it easy to park in the city. The handling is also been rated better than the Hyundai Santro car which my colleague owned earlier.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
The Chevrolet Spark in India is offered with only a single petrol engine option. It also gets a LPG powered variant. The engine is the 995 cc 4 cylinder one with Dual Distributor-less Ignition system. It makes 63 Bhp of peak power whereas the maximum torque is of 90 Nm. This engine is mated with a 5 speed manual transmission. The 0-100 kmph mark is breached in only 14.8 seconds with the 793 Kg kerb weight of the car coming into play here. It reaches a top speed of 148 kmph. The gearshift action is also pretty positive though my colleague personally felt that the one in the Santro was a bit better. But then GMI were never known for their gearboxes. With the LPG option, boot space is eliminated altogether and the performance of the car goes down as well. Expect it to clock 0-100 kmph times in 19 seconds.
The brakes offered in the Chevy Spark are ventilated discs in the front and self adjusting drums at the rear. For the top end variant, there is ABS offered as well. Before the first service, my colleague did face some problem with the brake pedal with its braking action requiring to be carefully planned in advance. After the service though, things were normal and he reported the same braking feel as in the Hyundai Santro, if not better. For such a small car, GMI have taken care of the safety aspect as well. They are offering a driver airbag, side intrusion beams, pedestrian safety bumpers and three point seat belts.
Fuel efficiency is paramount for a small car buyer, especially in India. The Chevy Spark doesn’t disappoint on this count either. It gives 14.1 kmpl in the city whereas the highway figures rose to 18.7 kmpl. These figures were achieved with the AC on. The LPG variant boasts of giving 13.2 kmpl but then I wouldn’t be able to vouch for it since I haven’t met any Spark LPG owner yet.
So finally, the Chevrolet Spark review done, now is the time to mull over its good and bad points. Starting with the bad points, this car isn’t suitable for public who have a certain height limitation(that was the best way I could put it without offending any one). If you are any one who is looking north of 6 feet, better avoid this car. The interiors though sturdy and durable, don’t look that premium. Ride quality could have been a tad better in the city. Now comes the good parts bin. This car has a built to last fell, is easy to drive around in town, fuel efficiency is one of the highlights. Best thing of all, it comes in a LPG variant as well. For those affected by the rising prices of crude(I certainly am), this would be a good option. It is also backed by Chevrolet’s years / 1,00,000 kms along with CPCOO. Good thing then for those bachelors. The Chevrolet Spark price in India starts from Rs 3,23,458 to Rs 4,24,353. All these prices are from the Delhi market. There are 7 variants of the Chevrolet Spark and out of that, two are for the LPG variants.
Technical specifications of Chevrolet Spark in India
Engine details: 995 cc 4 cylinder with DDLI
Maximum Power: 63 Bhp @ 5400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 90.3Nm @ 4200 rpm
No. of Cylinders: 4
Valves Per Cylinder: 2
Fuel Supply System: SEFI
Valve Configuration: SOHC
Bore x Stroke: 68.6 x 67.5 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.3:1
Transmission Type: 5 Speed Manual
Front Suspension: McPherson Struts with Anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension: Torsion Beam axle
ShockAbsorbers Type: Gas Filled
Steering details: Hydraulically power assisted with Rack & Pinion
Turning Radius (wheel base): 4.4 m
Front Brake Type: Ventilated Disc
Rear Brake Type: Self-Adjusting Drums
Top Speed: 148 kmph
Acceleration (0-100 kmph): 14.8 seconds
Mileage-City (kmpl): 14.1
Mileage-Highway (kmpl): 18.7
Fuel Type: Petrol
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres): 35
Emission Norm Compliance: Bharat Stage IV
Tyre Size: 155/70 R13
Wheel Size: 13 X 4.5 J
Tyre Type: Tubeless Radial
No of Doors: 5
Seating Capacity: 5
Cargo Volume: 170 litres
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