Affordable, peppy car which can out-smart even hot-hatches
Buying a small car in India sounds like an easy task, with numerous offerings at competitive price points, but at least in our case, it wasn't. Our main concern was to find a car which could easily fit in our main gate, which is couple inches more than five feet. Added to our woes, the narrowed down options didn't had capable engines, as all alternatives boasted of 800cc mills only. And then, we zeroed upon Chevrolet Spark. Initially, I was not too keen, because Spark has been in Indian market from quite a long time, but has never made its presence felt, so far as competition was, or is concerned. But all perceptions really changed. To begin with, Spark has a cute and peppy design, with a changed front face, now sporting typical Chevrolet fascia, i.e. honey comb grille split by body colored bar, and top spec LT model also sports new fog lamp housing, similar to that of Swift. This change added character to the front. Side profile and rear are more or less similar to older versions. The rear bumper now has black plastic finish at the centre, which I assume was done to keep the paint intact in case of rear impact, as rear ends of hatches, being low slung are more prone to scratches owing to the vehicles following you. Back also sports of a spoiler on top of the glass in top spec LT model. LT model also gets roof rails, to increase the peppy appeal. On the inside, Spark sports of a decent interior, the seats and dash now coming in beige shade, probably to make the cabin look bigger. The speedometer is placed in the centre of dashboard, containing of a dial speedometer, and digital odometer, trip-meter, and tachometer. I must add here, that if you are too keen of checking RPM for gear change, the tachometer of Spark needs some practice t look at. Also, Digital Engine temperature gauge and Digital fuel gauge were present, along with usual warning signs and indicators. Spark has very smartly integrated everything neatly in a rather small instrument pod. One thing which I didn't liked was the steering wheel. It is a two spoke unit, in which both the spokes looks like diameter of the steering. Too bland for a peppy looking car. Also, like german and american cars, the control arm for head lamp and indicator is on left, whereas that of wiper is on the right. One might need some practice here as well, if switching from Marutis and Hyundais. The central console also had rotary A/C vents, coupled with old school dials for controlling, along with a proportionate looking music player. Speakers do a decent job as well. It's just that you are reminded every single time that they are just doing their job, whenever you wish to push limits of the music player. Top model (LT) also comes with power windows for all windows, rear defogger, ORVM on both doors, that can be manually adjusted from inside the cabin. What I liked the most was that Spark has too many cubby holes in the centre console, that one can fit odds and ends. Glove box is a bit small, and could have been made bigger by eliminating the tray that sits below it. Front doors also has pockets on both driver and passenger side, that can easily carry 500ml bottle. In front of gear, are two glass holders, serving their pupose well, but are a bit out of reach. One thing that amazed me though, was the cushioning of the seat and leg space. Usually, cars of this category have back seats with such less cushioning that one can presume sitting on a bench. But Spark has proportionate front and back seats to support back and thighs. Leg space at the rear is also decent, as one can sit without scraping his knees, unless the person is above six feet. Also, three people can easily sit for short distances, with a little bit of shoulder scraping. What amazed me is the performance, owing to the four cylinders, 995cc motor sitting under the hood. It is quick to launch, it is nimble on its feet, and because of its compact dimensions, it is very agile, so far as day-to-day commuting is concerned. It can zoom its way past the traffic easily, it can take superb U-turns, and can easily beat the competition in straight line acceleration. The motor, in fact, amazed me when I took it to Nainital. Never, for once, the engine felt under-powered while climbing the hills, and I never felt the urge to shift it to first gear to gain momentum. It easily climbed on in second and third gear, hitting corners and coming out like a pro. It also never is out of power, even with AC on. Sailing it on highways is as much fun, as while commuting in traffic. It’s a shame that Chevrolet guys are not focusing on it, because a major facelift done to Spark can put them back in business. The Spark, in short, is hot to handle peppy machine, which can put the more expensive hatches to shame on occasions; a decent small car to own.
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