Chevrolet Spark LTZ

We drive the facelifted Chevrolet Spark to find out if it can compete with the best in the class

Overall Auto Express Rating

2.0 out of 5

Despite some improvements to the interior and exterior, the Spark feels well off the pace. A cramped cabin, noisy engine and poor performance all mean it’s tough to recommend, despite the option of five years’ interest free credit and no deposit to pay up front.

We grabbed an early drive in the facelifted Chevrolet Spark at the end of 2012, but now the restyled city car has arrived here, how will it cope on British roads?

Chevrolet’s main focus has been a cosmetic overhaul, so at the front a new ‘dual-port’ grille with much larger upper and lower sections is added. Tweaked headlight clusters and a sporty new front bumper, featuring chrome highlights on higher-spec models, round off the changes.

The Spark is certainly hard to miss – especially when finished in the Cocktail Green metallic paint of our test car. But despite the facelift, the tall stance, low window line and silver roof rails mean it looks more like a mini-MPV in the mould of the Kia Venga than a desirable city car.

Inside, the updates are more successful. The simplified centre console is smarter than before and the circular dials for the stereo and air-conditioning are backlit with a soft blue colour.

The top-spec LTZ comes well equipped with electric windows all-round, parking sensors and fake leather seats all included in the £11,070 asking price, but in lesser versions the likes of ESP and alloys are optional extras.

Build quality is reasonable and there are some useful cubbies dotted about the cabin. But springy switches and scratchy surfaces in the doors remind you that the Spark is aimed squarely at those on a budget.

The packaging is showing its age too. The driving position is too high, and those in the back will find things very cramped indeed. Plus, the standard 170-litre boot has a high, narrow loading lip and is really only big enough to take shopping bags.

Around town the 1.2-litre petrol engine has just enough power to nip in and out of traffic, but once the roads open out, it feels very sluggish and strained. The notchy five-speed manual also makes it difficult to keep progress smooth.

Lifeless steering, poor body control and a jittery ride all mean the Spark trails behind its rivals dynamically, and the lack of stop-start tech ensures it’s less efficient than the class leaders.

Plus, for the price of our LTZ you can get a top-spec VW High up! with portable sat-nav – which the Spark doesn’t offer.

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