The Chevrolet Spark isn’t a car without merit. To its credit, it offers more interior space than many of its rivals, it has a distinctive, some may even say stylish, look and it’s not unappealing to drive. But, welcome as these attributes are, they are neither sufficiently far ahead of the Spark’s rivals, nor core enough to its purpose, to make us overlook its deficiencies elsewhere.

Of those, the Spark has its share. Its capable dynamics are undermined by the crudeness of an engine that makes a mockery of upgrading to the 1.2, and its space is at odds with the poorness of some cabin materials. If you stick with the 1.0-litre car, you’ll be saddled with a car that sounds equally crude on the move, but performance is such that moving sometimes feels like a struggle.

The Spark falls short of what we expect from a new car

Laughably, the temptingly-priced (especially with a decent discount) entry-level model doesn’t even come with a stereo, let alone air conditioning – no wonder it gets into insurance group one. Then there’s the quality of the interior – it might look okay, but you could be forgiven for thinking it had been put together from an Airfix kit.

Four years ago the Spark would have been competitive, but cars like the Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto have arrived since and moved things on considerably – they both offer style, a decent drive, a nice smattering of equipment plus low prices and cheap running costs. 

At a miserly price the Spark might overcome those odds, but as it is, the Spark falls short of what we expect from a new car.

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