From £9,540
Roomy, fresh-looking and keenly-priced - but not much fun to drive
Julian Rendell
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.

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Comments
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HyundaiSmoke 1 December 2009

Re: Chevrolet Spark 1.2 LS

You guys are extraordinary. People Laughed at lexus when they first started too, but those young fat American professionals you speak of 20 years ago snapped-up those little primitive lexuses with leather seats as the only Luxury made the brand what it is today. Hyundai does that and more in many of its products. Its just the beginning. Just remember, people laughed at the Idea of VW going upmarket 10 years ago too.

Then again most of you Europeans Still see them as an Econo car company..

On the Spark, GM plans to sell this in the States, it needs 100 HP to justify the prepping cost to get the things ready to pass US Government regulations. Even the most eco savvy people here wont tolerate anything less than 100 HP.

It will be the first A-segment car GM has sold here since the long ill-forgotten Chevette.

moe360 30 November 2009

Re: Chevrolet Spark 1.2 LS

Lee23404 wrote:

moe360 wrote:

Lee23404 wrote:
Seriously though HyundaiSmoke, Hyundai and Kia have improved massively of late and I even quite like the i30 and may consider one if i downsize - the 5 year unlimited mileage warranty is good for me with the amount of miles I do.

Lee23404 your not serious about the comment above ! please say you arn't get a Skoda instead but not a Hyundai I hope you were just trying to make that smoke guy feel better about a rubbish brand !

Your right, I probably won't get one but I do quite like the i30. My (BMW driving) father in law has looked down his nose at me ever since I got a Citroen. If i got a hyundai I doubt he'd let me in the house.

L0L :)

Lee23404 30 November 2009

Re: Chevrolet Spark 1.2 LS

moe360 wrote:

Lee23404 wrote:
Seriously though HyundaiSmoke, Hyundai and Kia have improved massively of late and I even quite like the i30 and may consider one if i downsize - the 5 year unlimited mileage warranty is good for me with the amount of miles I do.

Lee23404 your not serious about the comment above ! please say you arn't get a Skoda instead but not a Hyundai I hope you were just trying to make that smoke guy feel better about a rubbish brand !

Your right, I probably won't get one but I do quite like the i30. My (BMW driving) father in law has looked down his nose at me ever since I got a Citroen. If i got a hyundai I doubt he'd let me in the house.