By Matt Degen
The 2015 Spark is Chevrolet's smallest and least-expensive car. Tinier even than the Chevy Sonic subcompact, the 4-passenger Spark hatchback falls into the minicar class, where it competes with rivals like the Fiat 500, Smart Fortwo and Scion iQ. The Chevy Spark has a low starting price around $13,000 and a fuel economy rating of up to 39 mpg, figures that will attract younger drivers and those seeking high fuel efficiency. Drivers in California and Oregon also have the choice of the all-electric Spark EV. With its four doors and pair of rear seats, the 2015 Chevrolet Spark is more practical than its slightly smaller rivals. Chevy's city-friendly microcar can turn on a dime and fits anywhere, but is not ideal for long highway commutes.
Beyond its low price and high fuel economy, the Spark boasts a larger-than-you'd-think interior and vibrant exterior styling that's offered in an array of bright colors with names like Salsa, Lime Green and Lemonade.
The 2015 Chevy Spark is limited to four passengers, so if you need to seat more than two people in back, try a (relatively) larger car like the Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio, or the Spark's larger sibling, the Chevrolet Sonic. Those vehicles are also more stable at freeway speeds.
The Spark microcar gets a tech upgrade for 2015 with the addition of 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity that turns the car into a mobile hotspot to keep the driver and passengers connected. The subscription-based system is standard as part of the OnStar communications service and includes a 3-month/3-gigabyte trial.
Driving Impressions With its small size and low weight, the 2015 Chevy Spark is zippy and nimble while running errands around town. True, the 83 horsepower generated from its tiny 1.2-liter engine...... doesn't sound like much, but it's enough to move this sub-2,400-pound car in and around traffic. The Spark is tossable in corners, but body roll is present. Wind and road noise are quite noticeable in the cabin, but at least we didn't have to shout to converse. At higher speeds the Spark can feel jumpy, and for that reason, it wouldn't be our first choice for freeway driving. The limited-availability Spark EV surprises in its power and fun. Chevy's tiny EV has an abundance of torque and instant power that enables the electric Spark to scoot to 60 mph in just over seven seconds, while its heavier weight helps it feel more planted.
Chevy's MyLink telematics system boasts a 7-inch touchscreen, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio and telephone with voice recognition. Those with iPhones can even use a specialized version of Siri voice command with it, and the new 4G LTE functionality with Wi-Fi allows further connectivity for on-the-go lifestyles.
At first glance you probably wouldn't believe the Spark microcar has over 31 cubic feet of cargo room, but thanks to its taller profile and 60/40-split flip and folding rear seats, Chevy's tiny hatchback can hold a surprising amount in its rear compartment.
The 2015 Chevrolet Spark can seat four adults, and unlike the Fiat 500 and Scion iQ, the rear seats are easier to access and offer more legroom. In addition to its ability to haul a surprising amount with the rear seats folded, the Spark offers a decent 11.4 cubic feet of room with them raised. Up front, the Spark is simple, but slick, with a motorcycle-inspired instrument panel. The steering wheel tilts but does not telescope. Plastic and cloth are the standard in base models, but visual and tactile pop is gained with colorful trim kits, a 7-inch touch-screen display and faux-leather seating.Exterior
From a distance, you may have trouble telling the Chevy Spark apart from its Sonic hatchback sibling. Like that subcompact, the Spark has a wedge-shaped design and unique details such as hidden handles in the rear doors. Step closer and you'll notice the Spark's taller profile, larger headlight housings and tidier dimensions. We think the Sonic has the edge in aesthetics among Chevy's subcompacts, but it's also over $2,500 more. Electric Spark models have a chrome 2-tier grille that is closed to reduce airflow, a rear spoiler, and aero-optimized mirrors for the greatest efficiency.
Even at around $13,000 in base form, a 2015 Spark LS offers more than you might assume. For example, while some other bottom-dollar cars still require you to crank your own windows, that's not the case here. Also included are air conditioning, a 4-speaker AM/FM radio with auxiliary input and 15-inch wheels. Higher trims add a 7-inch touch-screen command center, cruise control, power door locks and mirrors, and leatherette on top trims. In addition to OnStar as standard in all models, higher trims include a 6-speaker audio system with USB port and Bluetooth streaming (a CD player is not available). Safety features include 10 airbags, and traction and stability control.
Options are limited on the 2015 Spark, as most upgrades come by moving up trims to the mid-tier 1LT or top-line 2LT. As such, add-ons are limited to features like colors of interior details, fog lights, a unique grille, and an engine block heater. Navigation is available through the BringGo smartphone app, as are audio-streaming services such as Pandora, Stitcher and TuneIn global Internet radio. Drivers with compatible iPhones can use the Siri Personal Assistant. Spark EV models can be fitted with a fast-charging port.
The 2015 Spark uses a 1.2-liter inline 4-cylinder engine that makes 84 horsepower and is linked to a 5-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). All Spark models are front-wheel drive and can run on regular unleaded gasoline. Spark EV models use an electric motor that makes 140 horsepower. Torque in 2015 Spark EV models is down from last year – as is the weight of the battery – but it's still prodigious at 327 lb-ft. On a full charge hatchback EV has an EPA-rated range of 82 miles. Charging times vary from 20 minutes using a scarce (for now) DC Fast Charging unit, to 20 hours on a standard 120-volt outlet. In between is a more reasonable seven hours on a 240-volt line.
84 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
83 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/39 mpg (manual), 30/39 mpg (automatic)
18.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack
327 lb-ft of torque
Projected range per charge: 82 miles
The 2015 Chevy Spark minicar comes with an appropriately miniature Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) price starting around $13,000. It's not the lowest price for a new car, but it remains close to the one that wears that humble crown: the Nissan Versa and its $12,800 starting tag. Decked out in top trim with an automatic transmission, the Spark can reach about $18,000. At its starting price, the Spark continues to undercut rivals in the minicar segment. It's a couple hundred less than the Smart Fortwo, and several thousand below the Scion iQ and Fiat 500. The 2015 Spark EV, available in California and Oregon, starts under $28,000 before factoring in the $7,500 federal income tax credit. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Chevy Spark. The Spark is expected to have strong resale value, outperforming its Fiat and Scion rivals.