Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Review: 2017 Chevrolet Spark 1.4 LTZ


You can’t expect much in the sub-B passenger car segment. Hopping from one carmaker to another, it leaves little doubt that they’re primarily designed as basic transportation. Thus, in coming up with the 2017 Spark, Chevrolet could have easily aimed just a tad higher than the very low bar set by the competition and still come out on top. Yet, it overshot the market by a good margin. Its overachieving nature earns the Spark the title of being “best in class.”

While the Spark’s shape doesn’t escape the unmistakable budget-class silhouette of small cars, it does look much better than the car it replaces. Characterized by the lower roofline, it removes the tallboy look of its predecessor. The lengthened wheelbase, shortened overhangs, and wheels pushed out to the corners also contribute to a better stance. Going into the details, the use of projector-type headlights with LED park lights, generous 15-inch alloy wheels, and even side mirror-integrated turn indicators all give it a much more modern vibe.



In terms of numbers, the Spark bucks the industry trend and actually gets smaller with this generation. Overall length is down by 40 millimeters and width down by 3 millimeters. Chevrolet has done a lot to carve out every available millimeter of interior space, but the shrinkage can be felt. Those seated in front will barely notice the difference, but those in the back will feel it to the tune of 56 millimeters of less legroom to stretch. In fact, if the front passengers aren’t willing to compromise on legroom, the rear quarters is best left to bags. Moving further back, cargo room remains the same with the rear seats up (195 liters), but the grand total is down 113 liters to just 764 liters.

And on the subject of cargo space, the Spark’s loading area is awkwardly shaped. No matter what’s placed in there, when it comes time to remove it, it has to be lifted up and then out. Oh, and for some reason, the luggage cover doesn’t rise with the hatch. It would have taken just a few hundred pesos worth of string and fastener to attach the lightweight cover to the liftgate; alas, for Chevrolet that’s probably a few hundred pesos saved.




Although the Spark’s size has disappointingly shrunk, it does pack a lot more content this time around. For starters, it comes with all power amenities including folding mirrors. Then, there’s the 7-inch Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system that’s both nice to look at and intuitive to use. It also comes with all sorts of inputs including both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Finally, it doesn’t scrimp on safety since it has dual SRS airbags, anti-lock brakes, and even stability control.

Driver comfort is pretty good considering the Spark’s size. Though very tall or big drivers may find the lack of even a tilt adjustable steering column to be a problem, most adults won’t have difficulty finding a comfortable position from the 4-way adjustable seat. The cabin is well-made and is definitely of a higher caliber than any other car in this class. The all-black scheme mixed in with the high-gloss piano black and aluminum accents don’t feel as cheerful as the exterior, but the texturing is consistent and the materials well thought of. Plus, all of the switchgear, from the stalks to the buttons are crisp and well-placed.




The Spark doesn’t drive like a tiny car and that’s mostly because of its 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. Good for 99 horsepower and 128 Nm of torque, there’s good thrust from down low. Plus, it’s actually a willing spinner. Given enough space, it does the century mark in around 11 seconds, but that’s along with some accompanying mechanical drone. However, keep the rpms sane and it’s smooth. The accompanying CVT is also a great match for the engine. Heavier throttle inputs result in some delay but when it gets into the groove, it actually mimics gear shifting. Lighter throttle inputs meanwhile make it a sensible cruiser. Be warned though: the Spark’s large engine results in a large car fuel mileage: 7.69 km/L (average speed 13 km/h).

Riding on a new and stiffer platform, the Spark has surprisingly good road manners. The ride quality is not only much improved from its predecessor, but it actually rides like a car a class higher. It absorbs road undulations very well, damping them before they reach the cabin. The extra wheelbase also instills a greater sense of stability making highway travel actually pleasant. There’s a hint of road and wind noise, but nothing obtrusive. The migration to an electric power steering system also removes the typical problem that plagues Chevy cars: the rubber band-like steering. It’s light and precise giving the Spark a feeling of agility that wasn’t in the previous model.



It’s easy to understand the appeal of a sub-B segment car, especially for those who want something that’s maneuverable, inexpensive to own, and will get from Point A to Point B in a no-frills manner. And though the segment is well-stocked with a number of choices, the 2017 Chevrolet Spark stands above everyone else by providing class-above handling and refinement. Though it does suffer from an uncomfortably small rear space and a lack in fuel efficiency, it does make it up by providing all sorts of technology and convenience features that are usually unavailable for this class of car. For sure, the P 763,888 price tag may make it more of a lifestyle choice than something borne out of necessity, but it doesn’t make it less of a compelling model to consider for those in a market for a sub-B segment hatchback.



2017 Chevrolet Spark 1.4 LTZ
Ownership 2017 Chevorlet Spark 1.4 LTZ CVT
Year Introduced 2017
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact Hatchback
The Basics
Body Type 5-door Hatchback
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.4
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 99 @ 6,200
Nm @ rpm 128 @ 4,400
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 7.69 km/L (13 km/h)
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 3,635
Width (mm) 1,595
Height (mm) 1,483
Wheelbase (mm) 2,385
Curb Weight (kg) 1,019
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Tires Continental ContiEcoContact5 185/55 R 15 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No
Other Safety Features No
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Fixed
Steering Wheel Material Urethane
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Manual
Audio System Stereo
Aux
USB
Bluetooth
Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes

6 comments:

  1. Decent car, horrible aftersales service...

    If I wanted a good hatchback I'd save a few more money and get a base mazda 2 instead. Horrible aftersales too, but at least there's a 3 year free maintenance benefit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mazda has horrible aftersales? I'm a Mazda owner and I've never experienced this so called horrible aftersales that they say about Mazda.

      Delete
    2. Maybe they're talking about the after sales service for pre-skyactiv models?

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    3. You go get the Mazda, girl!!!

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    4. Reports says otherwise. They are below average in consumer satisfaction. Way below compared to even Ford.

      Delete
  2. If you want an american car, in the same category, better wait for the next gen fiesta ecoboost, its a looker, smaller engine( more fuel effiecient) yet more powerful, that fiesta will certainly engulf this spark in the highway

    ReplyDelete

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