By Theodore Opara
Never before has a small car impressed me like the new Chevrolet Spark which was introduced into the Nigerian market recently by NMI Motors, a member of the CFAO Automobile Group. Though I had sighted the new Chevrolet Spark at various times at the NMI showroom on Oshodi-Apapa expressway Lagos but never picked much interest on the muscular looking small hatchback.
I must confess, during one of the visits I attempted peeping into the hatchback, and that was the closest I got to it. But the true picture of the new Spark was revealed during my last trip to South Africa last month. The Spark was one of the Chevrolet models lined up for the visiting Nigerian Motoring journalist to test-drive from the company’s head office in Port Elizabeth to Storm River Mouth and back, a distance of about 370 kilometres.
At first, we did not give the Spark a chance to catch up with the bigger Chevy cars like the Captiva and Cruze but we were proved wrong as the Spark turned out to be the car to beat. It is powerful, yet economic with fuel. It is small outside yet, very roomy and comfortable. The most amazing feature of the small hatchback is the roadholding. It handles like a big Sedan despite it size.
The smooth South African road made the Spark to feel very comfortable on the road. One of my colleagues during the test-drive confessed that he didn’t know when he violated the speed limit on the road with the new Spark until his co-driver called his attention that he was hitting 140 kilometres. He did this on several occasions but was lucky the camera did not pick him.
The question on our lips however was how come the Spark handles this well despite its size. Chevrolet provided the answer to this question. The Spark is powered by a 1.2 litre petrol engine. The four cylinder engine, with 35 litre fuel tank capacity is equipped with MFI-DOHC 16 valve fuel system.
Available in five speed manual transmission, the Spark comes with McPherson strut suspension in front and torsion beam at the rear. It has a wider wheelbase than its competitors while the brake is disc at the front and drum at the rear which ensure shorter braking on the road.
The Spark is available in three variants including Spark, Spark LS and Spark LT. Some of its features include power steering, tiltable steering wheel, automatic central lock, air condition system, CD player, power windows, etc.
Its exterior features include body colour bumper, power outside rear mirror, rear sport spoiler, foglamps, rear window defogger to mention but a few.
Funky to a fault, the Spark interior can be adjusted to take as much luggage as one wishes. Rear seat can be folded to create more space.