Cheeky city slicker
In May 2012 General Motors South Africa started shipping the locally manufactured Spark to its dealer network which formed part of GMSA’s R1 billion rand investment in three local vehicle assembly programmes.
Malcolm Gauld, GMSA’s Vice-President of Vehicle Sales Service and Marketing, states that the small car or A-segment of the market offers significant growth potential in a climate of continued global economic stress. South African buyers are often attracted to the economies of operation offered by small cars like the Chevrolet Spark that offer an exceptional value proposition, either as an entry level purchase or as a stylish everyday urban transport solution, says Gauld.
A further benefit that comes with the localisation of the Spark is the opportunity afforded to us to tailor the range to specific local market requirements. This flexibility was evidenced with the introduction of the Spark Campus late last year as a third model in the range specifically targeted at younger buyers on a budget, Gauld points out.
Enter the all new range of Sparks in Feb 2013. The launch was appropriately held at the Wavehouse in Umhlanga Rocks. It was clearly illustrated to us with some really fun and funny characters, portraying their various requirements for each one of the 5 new Spark models.
The drivetrain hasn’t been altered and remains as a standard 1.2l engine, 16 valve DOHC, 4 cylinder engine. The Spark boasts 60kW @ 6400 rpm and 108Nm @ 4300 rpm. The transmission is a 5-speed manual front wheel drive. The frugal little Spark claims a combined fuel consumption of 5, 4 l/100 km
However, there is a clear differentiation between the 5 new models.
The Campus is the least expensive in the range, offering a no fuss and no frills option for the serious budget. This model comes without a radio, but is radio ready, no roof rails and 14” steel wheels. Yet Chevrolet has not compromised on safety in any of the range of Sparks. Standard features are ABS with EBD, dual airbags, side impact protection bars and ISOFIX child seat attachments.
The range of 4 new models is topped off by a very cheeky and slightly aggressive looking Spark LT. Extra features in the LT include front and rear power windows, a radio/CD front loader with MP3 compatibility with 6 speakers and steering wheel controls. The LT also boasts in addition to the dual front airbags, side seat airbags. Standard in the Lt is rear park assist and auto locking doors. But wait, there is more! The LT also has two, cheeky black stripe decals that stretch from the bonnet and over the roof as an option and chrome finneshes that spunk it up some more The interior offers sporty colour coded seats and trim that includes two-tone faux leather seats.
Chevrolet has added once last surprise to their new line-up. The Spark Pronto. A nippy little light delivery vehicle that holds a loading space of 876 litres and the rear doors and driver pare protected by side and front protection bars.
We drove the LT on the launch through cities and highways. The nifty little Spark is delivers some decent torque through its close tightly ratioed 5-speed gearbox. City driving is pretty easy and chilled. On the hi-way, we were a bit concerned about the steering wobble that started at around 110 km/h and then seemed to iron itself out a bit after 120 km/h. Maybe it was just our test unit.
All in all, I can say I am pretty impressed with this all new, cheeky little Chevrolet Spark.