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Old 10-13-2012, 09:50 PM   #1
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Post Driver's Seat: Chevy Spark is a cute ride, thoughtfully equipped

Driver's Seat: Chevy Spark is a cute ride, thoughtfully equipped

2013 Chevrolet Spark 2LT: A Fiat fighter as tested; a Kia fighter in base form.

Price: $15,795 as tested, $12,245 for a base version.

Marketer's pitch: "Soon to be an urban legend."

Conventional wisdom: Edmunds.com dubs it "Inexpensive without feeling cheap."

Reality: Bigger than you'd think; not speedy, but still fun.

You almost want to pinch it: The lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat and Sturgis Kids 1.0 through 4.0 quickly dubbed our little salsa-red test model "Chomper," after the adorable baby T-Rex from the Land Before Time movies. I feared it would be hard to give this little guy back to the fleet operators.

Patience is a virtue: Getting the Spark onto highways requires a bit of a head start. The 1.2-liter is less than enthusiastic, and it lost power on small highway grades about on par with the Fiat 500 I tested last year.

The shifter's five gears are closely spaced and fun to shift. But the transmission itself has some big differences in gear sizes. Shifting first-second and second-third involves long, power-curve-squashing leaps. It's just a bet, but an optional four-speed automatic would likely be worth avoiding entirely.

On the curves: The tiny Spark brings some joy to the winding country roads of Chester County. It's a breeze to maneuver into parking spaces and on Philadelphia streets as well.

Sparky: Chevrolet says it will produce an electric version of the car in 2013 for California and outside the United States.

The hot seat: The red-and-black interior struck me as straight out of the Fiat playbook. Mrs. Passenger Seat liked Fiat's red-and-white theme much better.

Unfortunately, at this price range come "leatherette" seats, and they felt like rubber. Get a little sweaty out in Southeastern Pennsylvania's early fall humidity and then go for a ride? You'll never dry off. Ewww.

The cheaper cloth seats look like they'd do just fine.

Nice plastic panels match the exterior color.

Snug interior: Legroom even behind a 5-foot-10 driver like myself is snug, and big feet must go in toes first. A console in the middle rear eliminates room for a fifth passenger, but then so does the width of the vehicle.

Carrying cargo: Chevrolet is making much of the 31 cubic feet of cargo space available with the rear seats folded down. That's about the size of two average midsize trunks, and about three times the Spark's fairly roomy-for-the-segment 11 cubic feet behind the rear seat.

Read More: Driver's Seat: Chevy Spark is a cute ride, thoughtfully equipped - Philly.com
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