When it comes to vehicles like the Chevrolet Spark, which is pretty tiny as compact cars go, an improvement of 17% power on its 2016 model appears almost negligible in terms of performance. What this translates to in actual power is a jump from 84 to 98 HP, which hardly makes it racetrack ready. However, for anyone driving cars in the 80s range, including the 2015 Spark, the increased power makes a significant different.
The power comes from the adapted Ecotec 1.4L engine, outperforming rivals Scio iQ and Smart Fortwo in both power and fuel efficiency (Spark is expected to top 40 mpg on the highway). The engine block and head are aluminum, integrated with an exhaust manifold. It rook the old models 11.2 to reach 60mph on a straight track, which is agonizingly slow, but perfectly suited to city traffic. However, the additional 14 HP of the 2016model makes itself felt on the highway. The new model comes with five-speed manual transmission, but buyers can opt for a continuously variable automatic.
Aside from the power, the 2016 model sports a new look that may be a bit more masculine than fitting such a small package. The creases and bulges look a bit out of place, although the headlights are now more proportional and normal-looking than the previous model.
The roof is also a tad lower (1.6 inches), but the seats were also lowered, so there’s no sacrifice in head room. The lower profile makes it look less likely to blow away in a stiff breeze.
The authors of these style and technical changes occurred in South Korea, at General Motors technical think tank. The thinking perhaps is that since small vehicles like Spark are more common there than in the US, the modifications would be more intuitive.
As a result, the interior of the Spark is roomier than what one would expect, comfortably fitting four people, although the color scheme is the same as the previous model. It comes standard with ten airbags, and warns the driver of blind spots, lane-weaving, and imminent frontal collision.
Rollover mitigation protocols are optional, but probably a good idea since Spark still has a high center of gravity. With the all-new structure, GM claims improved handling and crash protection, going so far as to boast the roof’s capacity to withstand 4.2 times the weight of the car in a rollover. It is hopedthis remains a comfortable assurance than a tested reality.
Tech-wise, the improvements are significant. The 2016 Spark sports GM’s OnStar security technology with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi capability. Rear sensors and backup cameras are standard features. Spark also has a 7-inch MyLink capacitive touch screen in sync with the hard-button volume and accessory panels on the dashboard, so the driver has the option to use either. The gauge cluster are advanced dot-matrix LCD.
With as near to 100 HP as makes no difference, and a lower, stronger body, the 2016 Chevy Spark edges out its nearest competitors in the small car market despite being slightly larger. The slightly stiffer price is not a lot considering the additional 14 HP.