2013 Chevrolet Spark - Your Tortilla Chips are in My Mole - Review

Blow all the sissy whistles you want at our Jalapeno (bright metallic pastel green) 2013 Chevrolet Spark micro-sportback car.

Because (A) it don't show the dirt (B) it shimmers at night (C) it goes pretty good with fresh tortilla chips.

It's not that a recent "Drive...He Said's"extended play-date with this city hatchback did much to change our first impressions  "Tooling Around Town" about the Spark's relative inability to spice-up the pavement. Last time out was in a five-speed manual unit.

Less Spicy Than [a] Cayenne:

The wide gear spread in our 4-speed automatic transmission tester could do only so much with 83-pound-feet of torque from a DOHC 1.2-Liter gas four-banger pulling 2300-pounds.  The front wheels will get the Spark to 60-miles-per in a loafing 12 seconds, some two eon-like seconds off the mark set by the 200-pound-heavier Ford Fiesta 1.6 SE. Going any faster makes an otherwise calm cabin susceptible to the bee-swarm coming from under the hood.

Registering  a 31 combined miles-per-gallon wasn't heaps better than in a roomier Kia Rio .

Brakes...vented rotors up front and drums out back...displayed passable pedal feedback in stop-and-go. Low-effort electrically assisted steering will survive a whipping in emergency maneuvers. The Goodyear Integrity tires, measuring 185/55, squeal well before the Spark gets sideways. Plenty of ride compliance makes the Chevy Spark " commuter-able". The coldest A/C setting still couldn't stop the sweat on some 90 F degree days.

Got INDIVIDUALITY?

Yet with an outre color palette, including Techno Pink, the Chevy Spark has the "Individuality" thing nailed. There's also the optional wet-suit rubbery seat upholstery. And second row door handles which are cleverly concealed in the C-pillar. They [Chevrolet] tell us that this is what young urbanites go for.

The raked snout, deeper chin spoiler and a bumper-cover with penetrating exhaust tip make the Chevrolet Spark youthful.  Adding a roof-rack and body-matching spoiler to the tapering roof-line and  rising belt-line and you have nearly have a shrunken wagon.

My-Link infotainment system, available on Spark 1LT models and up, features a large 7"-inch LCD touch display, with minimal smart-device style soft-touch buttons. Voice commands are limited to hands-free phone dialing. But this media system let's the user stream entertainment applications from their own smart wireless devices.

Bringo real-time navigation loads through compatible Apple-I or Android devices for one time $50 charge. The list of  included POI's is as extensive as we've experienced. Our $17,000 2LT also got sportier painted wheels, body-matching front-cabin appliques and the bespoke auto gearbox (to be replaced by a CVT in MY 2014).

"Motorcycle" inspired gauges features an analog speedo. And a blue-white LCD multi-trip display where the term "informative" is contorted by thumbnail sizing. Too bad that the insufficiently tilting steering wheel blocks much of the cluster anyway.

"Youthful" vs.  "Useful":

The Chevy Spark user manual says you can fold the second row seat back flat to expand a sparse under-hatch 12 cubic feet of storage. So after studying the schematic: we 1) pulled-out the rear headrests 2) slid forward the rear seat cushion 3) folded the seat cushion parallel against the front seat backs and 4) folded the unified seat back. If it sounds a bit like opening a sleeper sofa and then some, well it is. The Honda Fit has the Spark covered in ease of utility.

Keep the seats up and they say there's 35"-inches of legroom in back. Knees of anyone over 6'-feet will do a jabbing number on front occupants.

We aren't sure where the strong odor of plastics emanates within the cabin. Could it be the comfy-grippy wet-suit seat covers? Or the lack of a soft place to rest an elbow on a door ledge? Less splashy trim in the  Mazda2 offers better feel.

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Starting at $12,995 the 2013 Chevrolet Spark is a genuine alternative to a used car for the minimalist buyer. All Sparks get standard alloy wheels and power windows. And about 90% of the "Look-At-Me" of the pricier Fiat 500 .With 2 extra doors. Perhaps the only car easier to parallel park is the 2-passenger Smart-For-Two. Yet, with an affordable  battery-electric version launching at this writing, we can't help but wonder if that was the plan for the Chevy Spark all along.

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