2019 Chevrolet Spark: Bigger Responsibilities

Strong points
  • Standard feature-packed infotainment system
  • Refined ride for a minicar
  • Room for four adults
Weak points
  • Uninteresting base trim level
  • Its rivals can seat five—in theory
  • Low on cargo space
Full report

Priced at $9,995 before freight and delivery charges, the Spark is the most affordable car in Canada right now. While that may be enough to get the attention of consumers, the car’s mission changed quite a bit at Chevrolet.

First of all, it competes in the minicar segment that includes its arch-rival the Nissan Micra, but also the Mitsubishi Mirage, the Fiat 500 and the smart EQ fortwo. The last two are being pulled from out market after the 2019 model year.

The subcompact-car segment is also shrinking significantly with the departure of the Chevrolet Sonic last year, but the Ford Fiesta, the Nissan Versa Note and the four-door Hyundai Accent are on their way out as well. The compact-car category also lost the Ford Focus after 2018, and the Chevrolet Cruze has just retired.

So, the Spark is Chevy’s only available car in the $10K to $25K price range, under the Chevrolet Malibu. That’s a lot of ground to cover for a tiny, four-passenger car. Most importantly, how much should we spend on a Spark?

Photo: Michel Deslauriers

Under the hood, every trim level of the 2019 Chevrolet Spark gets a 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine that develops 98 horsepower and 94 pound-feet of torque. It may sound underwhelming, but with as little as 2,246 pounds (1,019 kilograms) to pull, it’s actually gutsy enough for both city commuting and highway driving.

With the standard five-speed manual transmission, combined city/highway fuel economy is rated at 7.2 L/100 km, and with the optional continuously variable automatic, the figure drops slightly to 7.1 L/100 km. The Mirage is more efficient, but that’s its 78-horsepower, three-cylinder engine’s only quality. The Micra and its 109-horsepower engine consumes more fuel than the Chevy. During our winter test with an automatic-equipped Spark, we averaged 7.4 L/100 km, which is a good result.

The problem is that compact-sized cars such as the Honda Civic, the Kia Forte, the Toyota Corolla and the Volkswagen Jetta can achieve about the same average. Maybe even better.

The 2019 Chevrolet Spark’s cockpit won’t blow anyone away, but the design is tasteful and build quality is above expectations. Four adults will travel comfortably, and there’s no middle rear seat, as opposed as the Mirage and the Micra that include five seat belts. Let’s be realistic here—sitting three people across in a minicar is a challenge no one will accept. Cargo space is rated at 313 litres with the rear seatbacks up, which is fine for a few bags of groceries, and 771 litres with the seats folded down. However, the Micra and the Mirage hatchback are more accommodating.

The Spark’s main attraction inside is its standard infotainment system that includes a seven-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The latter isn’t available at all in the Micra, and optional in the Mirage. In addition, GM’s interface is easy to use, with fairly big on-screen button zones and a simple menu layout. The Spark also boasts a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot, but it requires paying a monthly data package, so it’s not very relevant in this vehicle.

Photo: Michel Deslauriers

From a technological standpoint, the Spark is ahead of the its two rivals. Advanced safety features can also be added in the Chevy, such as forward collision warning, low-speed autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning.

Aside from offering a comprehensive infotainment system, the 2019 Chevrolet Spark LS is pretty bare, which isn’t a surprise considering its entry price. That means no air conditioning and a manual transmission. The other issue is that as this is being written, the LS trim can leased at 8.99% or financed at 5.49%. By stepping up to the 1LT and 2LT trims, lease rates fall to 1.0% over 48 months and finance rates to 0.49% over 72 months. In short, unless we pay cash, we should avoid the Spark LS.

A 1LT with A/C, an automatic transmission, 15-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, cruise control and more is priced at $15,895. That’s the best value proposition for the Spark. Our 2LT tester boasted leatherette upholstery, a power sunroof, an intelligent key, heated front seats and the aforementioned advanced safety features, for $19,095.

The Micra also has high interest rates on the $10,488 S trim right now, while the Mirage can respectively be leased or financed in $10,998 ES trim for as little as 0.99% and 0%.

The 2019 Chevrolet Spark is our favorite minicar on the market for its refined drive—given its size—and for its comprehensive infotainment system. It’s also the most modern of the three remaining competitors in this class. The Mirage costs less a month and is backed by a better warranty, while the Micra is more fun to drive. On the other hand, asking the Spark to cover all small-car categories at Chevrolet is a colossal task, and for a few bucks more a month, we can get a more comfortable and just as efficient compact sedan.

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