Vehicle Profile: 2014 Chevy Spark

The micro-car segment-beater keeps getting better

A quick scan of the specifics reveals that the new 2014 Chevy Spark is the only city car that delivers on the “Less is more” premise in all the ways that matter most. The 2014 Spark raises the mini-car stakes with new features that include a more efficient continuously variable transmission, exterior design enhancements, fresh personalization accessories, improved connectivity and an emissions-free, all-electric EV model. The new Spark, on sale here at Jack Maxton Chevrolet in Worthington, Ohio, leaves the rest of the mini-car pack floundering in its bite-size carbon footprint.

Introduced just last year, the Chevy Spark immediately captured the hearts of urban drivers, with its highest sales coming in traffic-dense cities such as San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. Credit goes in large part to its affordable MSRP of just $12,995, its bounty of interior space, abundant safety features and practical five-door hatchback design – all qualities the competition can’t match.

A 1.2-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine powers the Spark. Sophisticated engine technology such as dual continuously variable cam phasing helps the Ecotec produce a lively 84 hp and 83 lb/ft of torque and return an EPA-estimated 39 mpg highway with the standard five-speed manual transmission. Replacing last-year’s four-speed automatic, an available continuously variable transmission (CVT) offers seamless power delivery for better acceleration and improved fuel economy. In fact, with an EPA-estimated 39 highway mpg, the CVT-equipped Spark now matches its manual-transmission sibling, and it bests the comparably equipped Fiat 500 and Scion iQ by two mpg. Unlike the Fiat 500, the Spark runs on lower-priced regular unleaded gasoline.

This year, Chevy also gives eco-conscious buyers the Spark of their dreams. Available soon, the 2014 Chevy Spark EV (MSRP $26,685) features an all-electric powertrain that produces a staggering 400 lb/ft of torque – more than a Ferrari 458 Italia. Sure to be a fixture on the urban landscape, the Spark EV boasts 128 city MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent), an average range of 82 miles and sporty point-and-dart acceleration. In fact, the run from zero-to-60 mph takes less than 7.6 seconds. The available 240-volt charging system delivers a full charge in less than seven hours, while a DC fast-charging station can provide an 80 percent charge in 20 minutes. You can also count on the Spark EV for the long haul – Chevy backs the car’s lithium-ion battery pack with an eight-year/100,000-mile limited warranty.

You can also feel secure at speed, thanks to a class-leading array of safety and driver-assistance technology. Complementing the standard four-wheel antilock brakes and StabiliTrak stability and traction controls is a web of ten airbags, including front-knee units for the driver and passenger and side-curtain airbags that protect occupants in the front and rear seats. Standard Hill Start Assist is also on hand to keep the vehicle from rolling back when you start out on an incline.

From its new automatic halogen headlamps and daytime running lights to its integrated rear spoiler and available exhaust-outlet chrome surround, the Spark features street-wise styling and a host of eye-catching color options, including Lime, Grape Ice and Salsa. A touch of stealth––the rear door handles are hidden within the C pillars––gives this five-door hatchback the look of a three-door runabout, while its diminutive, 144.7-inch overall length makes it just the right size for curbside parking. The small Spark gives occupants ample space to maneuver, offering the best overall rear-seat room and maximum cargo volume (31.2 cubic feet) in the segment.

In just its first year of production, the Spark earned a Wards “10 Best Interiors” award. The editors at Car and Driver deemed the interior “surprisingly upscale” with “an air of richness.” Textured materials, comfortable seats and an intuitive center console layout all contribute to the next-level ambience. For drivers who like to stand apart from the big-city pack, the Spark provides a bunch of personalization options. Available trim hues let you color-coordinate the interior with the car’s exterior, while available accessories such as a Z-spec Grille, front foglamps and roof-rack cross rails ensure that your Spark speaks your language, and no one else’s.

The Spark also shines on the personal infotainment front. The available MyLink system offers smartphone integration, a seven-inch color touch-screen (easily the largest in this class) and a six-speaker SiriusXM Satellite Radio audio system. Put your Spark in park, and you can look at photo and video content on the touch-screen. MyLink also lets you connect to the BringGo in-dash navigation app, which offers turn-by-turn directions, live traffic data, 3D maps and a “Where Am I?” locator. Unlike many GPS-enabled apps, BringGo stores maps to your smartphone, so you can access them even when your phone signal is weak.

Offered in LS, 1LT and 2LT trim levels, the Spark out-values the competition where it counts most – in standard features. Air conditioning and power windows both come standard on the entry LS model, as do a tilt-wheel steering column, 60/40-split/folding rear seats and 15-inch silver painted aluminum wheels. Climbing the model ladder delivers features like heated front seats, leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, and new power-adjustable, body-color folding outside mirrors with heat and integrated turn-signal indicators.

When you’re ready to bounce in the best city car bar none, call or come in for a test drive of the new 2014 Chevy Spark.

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