Chevy first rolled out the production-ready electric version of its Korean-born Spark city car ahead of last year’s LA Auto Show, and by fellow Gas 2 writer, Chris DeMorro, took an up-close look at the car a few weeks ago at Detroit – with this very cutaway display, in fact. Chicago, though, was my first up-close look at the car, and I (for better or for worse) took a bit more interest in it than Chris did. Here, then, are a few of the Chevy Spark EV bits that I found interesting …
the Spark is Nicer than the Volt
This is a matter of taste and opinion, I’ll grant you that – but hear me out. By providence if not by design, we walked around the GM section of the Chicago Show last, and we were shocked at how bad (like, Bad bad) the interior and build quality was in the cars. The Buicks had stitching in plastic panels that were supposed to look like leather. In fact, the plastic leather looked so fake, I’m not even sure it was plastic. That said, the interior of the tiny Spark (and its not-so-tiny Sonic/Aveo brother) was actually pretty nice.
To wit: the body-color panels were actually body-color (not just “close”), the plastics around the ignition fit together without big gaps or overlap (more than can be said for the bigger Chevys and Buicks at the show), the seats were decently supportive, the info-graphic display was crisp and clear as my iPad, and the shiny plastic lacked the crappy sort of “ZOMG – fingerprints EVERYWHERE!” look of the Volt’s plastic bits.
It felt appropriate for an economy car, but did not seem cheap is what I’m saying. Check it out for yourself.
the Spark is Nicer than the Leaf and MiEV
Nissan may be shouting about the Leaf being the least expensive 4-door EV out there, but I got the distinct impression that my out-the-door price on a 2013 Chevy Spark EV would be a few hundred dollars lower than the recently-reduced Nissan Leaf … and a few thousand dollars less than the little electric Mitsubishi across the hall. As
nice passable as the Leaf is, however, the Spark’s interior (for all the reasons listed above) is better.
The Mitsubishi? It’s cute, but for more than $35,000 OTD, the low-rent interior of the MiEV should be an embarrassment to all involved. Chevy’s Spark EV is in a different league.
the Spark is Livable Electric
Again, this is a matter of opinion. For what it’s worth, though, it is not an opinion I expected to walk away with.
We first wandered over to the GM side of things looking for Chevy’s new diesel Cruze, and I didn’t plan on giving the Spark much (any) real attention. What I found was a comfortable little in-town runabout with enough range (80-100 miles) to be really practical, and enough performance (0-60 in less than 8 seconds with a stubby, responsive wheelbase) to be fun. On top of that, the trunk was the same as the gas version parked a few feet away and the Spark EV didn’t look much different than the standard Spark to the outside observer. There was no “punishment” to choose the EV option, in other words. You lost range, sure, but you got instant-on torque and a 0-60 run some 4 seconds quicker than the ICE Spark.
A great trade, I thought.
I’ve included a few more pictures of the new Chevy Spark EV. Take a look, think it over, and let me know what you think in the comments, below.
Photos: Margaret Nekrosius.