Used Car Review - Chevrolet Spark (2011-2016)

Posted by Carmella Ross on Sunday

As this model is slated to be replaced by an all new generation, let us revisit this one.

2011-2016 Chevrolet Spark

Mention the words Korean car and the top two names that come to mind are Hyundai and Kia, then we do have the occasional oddball brands like Ssangyong and Renault Samsung on the minority side. On the other hand, do you remember the Daewoo brand whose offerings include the cheapo Racer sedan and the cute Matiz hatchback? Oh, the one that we had two decades ago whose distributor is based from Cebu and had ventured to Chrysler vehicles and to multicabs later on. While Daewoo passenger cars are now a part of GM Korea (and these were renamed to Chevrolets in their home country later on), their commercial vehicles division was purchased by Tata Motors of India while their bus division stayed on.

Based on the Beat displayed at the 2007 New York Auto Show which was displayed alongside the Trax (which became an actual production car) and Groove concepts, the third generation Spark won a poll by General Motors which gave a green light as a real production car. Production commenced in 2009 with deliveries started the following year in various world markets under numerous names. Before we leave this paragraph, this one made its debut as Skids in Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 2007 which also featured in what would be the fifth generation Camaro, also known as Bumblebee.

One of the vehicles which brought back the Chevrolet name to life in the Philippines is this one, which replaced the ho-hum second generation model from 2006 to 2010. When it was first debuted in February 2011, the LT with a stick shift and a 1.2 engine is available with the LS having both transmissions and a 1.0 engine followed months later. A minor update occurred in May 2013 without any line-up changes.

Value and Costs
Priced below P600,000 during its run, the Spark had initial success but it dwindled due to the popularity of Japanese rivals as well as the Trailblazer later on. For those who want a city dweller without experiencing first owner depreciation, second hand units can be had between P200,000 to P400,000. Units purchased from April 2011 enjoy a five year warranty, so look for a vehicle sold from March 2012 to utilize this one.

Comparing to some rivals from Japan and Korea sold at the same time, this one could be somewhat pricier to maintain and parts aren't that much widespread, although the latter can be rectified if you look beyond the casa. Fuel consumption with the automatic isn't that good compared to the manual, so while you can, learn to drive stick if you really want this one or rivals can provide you better. Problem points for this car involve the auxiliary fan and the aircon, so keep an eye on those items.

Exterior and Interior
As we said earlier, its Beat concept car origins gave the car some character and flair (as opposed to some egg-like of the old model) and it will make your head turn. A bold move, to be honest, since it presented a new era the bow tie brand during its time. Another feature which was last seen in the Nissan Terrano of the 90s and copied by the Honda HR-V is the rear door handles situated at the pillar, making access by children difficult. LS models have black door handles and steel wheels while the LT has alloy wheels and body color door handles.

Going inside, you'll be treated to a roomy cabin with expanse spaces for your heads and legs. One feature which you may find it cool or tacky is the LED tachometer that is inspired from a motorcycle. Good thing that interior quality had improved, with the previous model having a cheap one which reflects its price.

Two Daewoo developed engines are in use for Philippine market models, with both of these coming from the STEC-II family. The 1.0 having 67hp at 6,400rpm and 90Nm at 4,800rpm and 1.2 with 81hp at 6,200rpm and 110Nm at 4,600rpm won't win you any awards but they're up to task. Going for the 1.0 will give you slow acceleration when paired to an automatic while the manual is decent. Our engine of choice is the 1.2, since it has enough grunt and is fun to drive (which we will delve later)

Driving Impressions
Thanks to a curb weight below a thousand kilos, this one is a fun partner especially that handling is a notch higher than rivals. Braking needs your constant attention as this one lacks ABS brakes, something that rivals sold today have as standard. Who says that going cheap you can't have fun?

While an improvement over its dowdy predecessor, the second generation does not standout the sub-compact crowd, maybe except for driving dynamics. The Celerio is fuel friendly, the Picanto has a high quality interior, and the i10 is the total package. If you're willing to live with some faults, then this is a good pick.

The Good:
  • Decent headroom
  • Practical
  • Easy to drive
The Bad:
  • Slow with the automatic
  • Rear handle may be hard for kids
  • Does not sparkle in the class
The Pick: 1.2 LT

Engine: 996cc and 1,206cc STEC-II I4 gasoline
Power: 67hp @ 6,400rpm (1.0), 81hp @ 6,200rpm (1.2)
Torque: 90Nm @ 4,800rpm (1.0), 110Nm @ 4,600rpm (1.2)
Fuel Consumption: 8-12km/L (city), 10-15km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front McPherson strut, rear torsion beam

Price (New): P548,888-P598,888
Price (Now): P200,000-P400,000
On Sale: 2011-2016
Rivals: Hyundai i10, Kia Picanto, Mitsubishi Mirage, Suzuki Celerio

Chevrolet Quezon Avenue - (02) 374-1250