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Test Drive Diary–Chevy Spark

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Chevrolet Spark (Jeff Gilbert photo)

Chevrolet Spark (Jeff Gilbert photo)

jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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OVERALL IMPRESSIONS:

The Chevy Spark is small, very cute vehicle that isn’t for everybody, but will attract a certain buyer. I’m thinking the target is a young person, who lives in an urban area, and wants something different. Maybe think low cost version of the Mini Cooper.

My test vehicle was apple green, with interesting accents inside. It was much roomier than expected, and a bit nicer. The fake leather seats were a nice touch, and they were even heated.

I like the layout of the audio system better than most. It’s appealing to look at, and relatively easy to use and learn. It still has some bugs. But, so do all systems like this.

The driving experience wasn’t expected to be thrilling, and it met my expectations. Power was lacking, and the manual transmission was not user friendly. Of course it is only an 84 horsepower engine. Highway fuel economy of 39 mpg was good, not stunning.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

The color of my test vehicle is unique, and as I drive it over Easter weekend, it reminds me of a jellybean. As a middle aged guy, living in the suburbs, I’m not the target.

(Jeff Gilbert photo)

(Jeff Gilbert photo)

Note the lack of space in the cargo area, a small suitcase and a couple of equipment/computer bags pretty much filled things up. You can fold down the rear seat for extra room.

The manual transmission takes some getting used to, and needs a lot more gas than I’m used to getting into first gear. Handling is pretty good, but not great, even in tight spots.

I like the looks of the unique audio system, and its capabilities an iPhone integration. It took a little while to learn.

The interior space is better than I expected, particularly the back seat. Cargo space is not so great…but you can hide a few things in the back. Basically, it’s a choice. People or stuff.

EXPERIENCES:

I did fit 16 year old friend of my son’s in the back seat. He’s over 6 foot tall, and was comfortable. at least for a short trip.

I love being able to integrate Tune in Radio and Pandora with audio system, but it’s buggy and you need to go to the phone to shut one off and put another on. This partially defeats the purpose of the system.

I found that the vehicle strains a lot trying to get up hills. But I didn’t seem to have too much problem when it comes to passing other cars on the freeway.

The engine revs very high, even in fifth gear, we’re around 3500 rpm. That takes some getting used to.

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