From £8,420
Roomy, fresh-looking and keenly-priced - but not much fun to drive

Our Verdict

Chevrolet Spark
The Spark is bigger overall than the Matiz it replaced

Chevy city car offers lots of space at a temptingly low price tag

26 November 2009

What is it?

Take a bow the new Daewoo Matiz, the Korean-built city car that was the only model in that defunct company to make serious headway in Europe.

Now under GM control, the Koreans have been beavering away on a Matiz replacement, which is renamed Spark to back up the all-new (slightly wider) platform, interior and sheetmetal.

What's it like?

Tuned to global tastes, the styling is a stimulating riot of creases, bulges and boldly designed lights, all matched to a cabin of nicely textured hard plastics brightened by pleasing flourishes of metallic-look trim.

The buttons and minor switchgear are generally of better feel, too, and overall the styling and interior are big steps up on the Matiz. But it’s a pity that the oblong-shaped rev counter pod, which sits alongside the speedo atop the steering column, is so clunky in execution.

Most significantly, the Spark's all-new platform is about 100mm wider than the Matiz. That brings more shoulder room and a less cramped feeling inside and pushes the Spark towards the top of the class for cabin space.

The wider stance also means greater stability at speed and more grown-up driving manners. And the hydraulic power steering is pleasantly weighted and consistent.

But the Spark is no sporty hatch. The suspension is tuned for comfort and soaks up bumps at pottering-about speeds. Throw the Spark into a bend and the front end washes out quickly, while the rear damping can’t cope with deep ruts at pace, the ride suddenly getting very harsh as the dampers work too hard to control the back end. A full load can only exacerbate this characteristic. A damper rethink for UK roads might be a good idea.

A welcome step forward over the Matiz is a fresh four-cylinder engine derived from the 1.4-litre unit in the Aveo, an engine that traces its ancestry back to GM’s Family 1 engine from the 1990s.

Although it's stronger than the Matiz’s thrumming three-cylinder engine, the 1.2 is a thrashy unit, particularly when extended to maximise performance. Chevy is considering further work on NVH.

Should I buy one?

Pricing is the key here. The range runs from £6945 to £9845, with air-con coming in at £9295. Viewed in this light, the roomy Spark has plenty to commend it, even if dynamically it holds little appeal for the enthusiastic driver.

Join the debate

Comments
25

27 November 2009

- its a really cool little car and it will do really well! i like it.

-chevy are really going to become a big force all over the world and the market share will very much advance in the EU - which is a great thing.

-well done chevy and well done GM!

-Bob you should be Sir Bob Lutz!

-the volt will be great! between the Volt and Nissan Leaf the Prius will be running and hiding as will some so called (what was it) efficient dynamics BMWs (!!!!) even though the fleet of BMs for the Olympics will put out nearly twice as much pollution as the fleet Nissan and Renault where going to proivde

-well done GM, Nissan and Renault - unlucky polluting BMs

-what was that, "pleasure in all BMs" - what's that, the pleasure of taking away lots of new UK jobs - you can keep that pleasure Mr. BMW - i do not want none of that.

27 November 2009

864kgs but 12.1 to 60mph? doesn't make sense, it should be quicker than that. It's the same weight as a lotus elise!

27 November 2009

[quote Autocar]stimulating riot of creases, bulges and boldly-designed lights[/quote]

Or to put it another way it's a mess.

This could possible get the prize for the most out of proportion headlights of any car on sale today.

27 November 2009

[quote CapsLock]chevy are really going to become a big force all over the world [/quote]

I do question what planet you live on! Chevrolet cars are currently crap. This looks good, but seems to be lagging behind rivals like the I20. What else have Chevrolet got coming out? The Volt is predicted to be $40,000 in North America, that's money that few people are going to bother spending.

GM are still in trouble. They may be in less trouble than before their chapter 11, but they're still talking about "increasing market share". How are Chevrolet going to double their market share??!! That involves taking sales away from other manufacturers. Right now there are very few manufacturers that Chevrolet can compete with in terms of engineering, price and placement.

If you want to congratulate any N.American car maker on their performance in the last couple of years then it has to be Ford who have massively increased their market share in the last year, the majority of "extra" sales being people moving from Chrysler and GM cars to a maker they saw as more stable with better residuals (never thought I'd say that about a Ford!) and actually with a better car range for the most part.

In Europe Chevrolet are a non-entity. Who is becoming a force in Europe: Hyundai and Kia (oh dear, now I've said those two words Hyundaismoke's going to turn up and tell us all about the Hyundai-Royce Phantom II). Volkswagen group have increased their market share.

Chevrolet a force to be reckoned with in Europe? Never. They'll continue to be out-engineered by the Korean makers (let alone the European and Japanese), undercut on price by the Koreans and emerging Chinese and eventually GM will have to pull the plug on cars like the Volt which have the potential to lose GM a lot of money (which is a shame, I like the tech behind the Volt)

27 November 2009

Just a note that Spark is only a new name for the UK, in Europe the current generation has been know as the Spark since launch.

27 November 2009

-is that so "thonlydt"

-Chevy has increased qaulity etc and will be increasing market share in the EU; simple as.

-the koreans with the likes of KIA and the likes of Hyundi etc; they have excellent warranties and reliability etc - they are good cars and that is where as i recall the spark is from i.e. Korea so i am glad you agree that things will expand.

- Chevy will expand in the EU, they did really well with what they had and now they will start and increase market share; nothing surer, they have a good product line up going forward and increased sector spread and shared technology with GM, Opel etc.

-the Chevy Volt will fly off the shelf - Chevy are going to do very well indeed.

-GM will not pull the plug (i wonder if you meant that as a pun!) on the Volt NOT AT ALL- and once more, GM will NOT pull the plug on the Volt - the Volt will fly off the shelves.

-hope that is helpful to you and as you should know Chrysler and GM sales have been improving

27 November 2009

[quote CapsLock]- Chevy will expand in the EU, they did really well with what they had and now they will start and increase market share; nothing surer, they have a good product line up going forward and increased sector spread[/quote] Isn't this a remodelled Dawoo Matiz? Having had experience of Chevy I can only say that they are junk, poor fit and finish, panel gaps you could push a small child through and about as reliable as an old Rover. I'm sure Chevy's are built to a budget of £4.79 and that's for the top end model (if they arn't they bloody feel like it) The only way Chevy will increase their market share is if they give their cars away and they will not sell more cars in the UK because any other car is better, in fact a mobility scooter is a better bet

27 November 2009

As small cars go i quite like the look of it, quite bold and confident looking. The interior is definitely a draw, I really like it. However it needs to be able have a decent ride, which judging from the test it doesnt have, so maybe they should have a closer look at the set up on other small cars and the damping before they stick it on the forecourts.

28 November 2009

[quote Will86]

[quote Autocar]stimulating riot of creases, bulges and boldly-designed lights[/quote]

Or to put it another way it's a mess.

This could possible get the prize for the most out of proportion headlights of any car on sale today.

[/quote]

Totally agreed.

28 November 2009

this is a funky little car from gm i love the look of it. i agree with a few posts, with new replacements from the old daewoo models that chevrolet will become a big player and i know id rather be driving that than the ugly little ford ka (kak) in saying that however i suspect the quality of hyundais current line up is possibly better i20 i30 (not so sure about i10) so lets see some more great replacements gm

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