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Old 30th April 2007, 09:27   #1
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Default Tested and RIPPED : Chevrolet Spark 1.0 LS

Before we begin, I must add that I haven’t driven a small car in ages. So maybe I wasn’t the best choice to test-drive the Spark.

In the sea of myriad entry to mid-level hatchbacks, what really is the differentiator today? Each one is reliable, fuel-efficient, has peppy performance in the city, offers an average but acceptable level of ride and handling, can seat 4 people in “cozy close” comfort and come with near identical equipment levels. The key differentiators will be:

1. Looks
2. Quality of after-sales service.
3. Diesel engine option.

The Spark surely makes a statement with its cute chubby looks, which are only enhanced by the snazzy colours GMI is offering it in (several shades of bright metallics including greens, reds and some kind of yellow). The profile is identical Matiz, but the mild facelift ensures that it doesn’t look outdated today. The light treatment (front and back) is pretty good and gives it a certain level of uniqueness. On the inside, it’s a bore! The center-mounted instrument panel and the 3:45 stalk steering wheel are the only saving grace, with everything else reflecting a lackluster design in an even more lackluster shade of grey. Space is seriously at a premium (again, I haven’t sat in a Santro or Wagon R in a long time), but the car was at best a 4 seater. The front seats offer decent support; however the rear seat is slab sided, thin, very bench like and is not a comfortable place to be. With 4 in the car, it did feel pretty cramped.

I tested the mid-equipped version (air-con + power steering only) which presumably will be the most popular. Out on the open road, the engine made the Spark surprisingly peppy with 4 on board. It was fun to put through its paces and redline in each gear (btw no rpm gauge on any version). Coarseness does set in as you climb up the revs, and it was nowhere as smooth as say…the old Zen. The low end was above-average but the short gearing offers good urban drivability. The gearshift wasn’t slick and had a mushy feeling to it, but it was good in feel and offers precise-slotting.

On the handling front, there was hardly any body roll and the Spark felt very go-kartish to push around. On the limit, it does understeer but in a very predictable fashion. The steering is direct and even with only 60 odd bhp, made for an interesting drive. Of special mention are the excellent brakes; we had a situation where we slammed on the brakes at 80 kph and the car decelerated in a steady straight line with no tyres locking. The ride quality was above average but slight stiff at lower speeds. Road undulations could clearly be felt at low to mid speed ranges. However, as the speedo climbs up the ride gets better.

Overall a Spark offers a decent package as a product. BUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT I feel that General Motors has gone a little over-board with the pricing. Here are the Mumbai on-road prices for individual registration:

1.0 E : 366,926 (no air-con)
1.0 : 393,384 (air-con only)
1.0 LS : 425213 (air-con + power steering)
1.0 LT : 460059 (above + front power windows and some frills)
1.0 LT OP : 500925 (Fully loaded).

As you can see, the 1.0 mid-equipped version is at 4.25 lacs!! And with no front power-windows but everything else (and more), the Swift retails for 4.6 lacs on the road. What would anyone really opt for? That 35,000 more gets you a whole lot more car (power, resale, space etc.). Heck, this makes the over-priced Aveo (4.70 on road) suddenly look like a value price.
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Old 30th April 2007, 09:32   #2
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woaaaaaah....Thats an expensive SPARK to fly. Do they really want to sell this car ?
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Old 30th April 2007, 09:37   #3
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GM has totally messed up the pricing on this car. in comparison the Zen Estilo, WagonR and santro are much more cheaper.
In bangalore the prices are as it is on the higher side. If you see the prices of these cars,

Zen Estilo LXi - 4.02L onroad (AC, PS, front power windows)
WagonR LXi - 4.08L onorad (AC, PS)
Santro XL - 3.96L onroad (AC, PS, front power windows and discounts)

So going by this the Spark LS model will be 4.4-4.6L which is more than the top end VXi of both the maruti's and the top end XO of the Santro.

And how will they justify the price to the general public who's first question will be why is it more expensive when engine is only 1.0L.
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Old 30th April 2007, 09:41   #4
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Nice review GTO
Agree on the pricing bit. GM needs to study the market in a more detailed manner before pricing their product.

They tend to overprice the car and then slash down on the price with heavy discounts, by then it is too late
When they go headon with Maruthi, they got to be conscious of their pricing...cos thats where Maruthi..beats competition
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Old 30th April 2007, 09:42   #5
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even I have seen people zipping past on the mathura road here in the test drive Spark, but the pricing, is more on the premium side of the segment.

Which again raises the question, is GM gonna go the same way with spark as Daewoo went with erstwhile Matiz, i.e price cuts & discounts due to competetion in the long run.?
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Old 30th April 2007, 09:43   #6
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Does it still have strut braces as standard equipment?
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Old 30th April 2007, 09:44   #7
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Mileage is sure to be on the lower side with that shorter gearing. How was the GC with 4 adults onboard?
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Old 30th April 2007, 10:29   #8
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I have a feeling GM is deliberately trying to cash in as they are restricted to only 2000 Sparks per month, until their new plant is up and running.

On another note, the General has slowly yet steadily expanded their range! I realised this when I walked into National Garage - a GM showroom which barely had any models to display previously - was filled with models yesterday. The Spark, Aveo, UV-A, Tavera, Optra and the SR-V.

Quote:
Originally Posted by v1p3r View Post
Does it still have strut braces as standard equipment?
To be honest, I didnt check as I didnt expect them to be there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theMAG View Post
How was the GC with 4 adults onboard?
No issues whatsoever, over speed breakers.
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Old 30th April 2007, 10:58   #9
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Woah! I did not expect the Spark to cost so high onroad! Oh well, It is the Indica Turbo for me then!!!!!

Thanks for the first Spark TD on TBHP.

Last edited by DriverR : 30th April 2007 at 11:00. Reason: Additions
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Old 30th April 2007, 11:09   #10
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Fantastic review again,its really a pleasure going through these.

Regarding the pricing had raised the issue in another thread,that GM certainly has messed around with the pricing and that the U-va base model is priced very close to the higher variants of the spark.Makes more sense to go for the U-va instead.

Quote:
Mileage is sure to be on the lower side with that shorter gearing
Company is claiming 15+ KMPL in the city.

Last edited by rahul_intlad : 30th April 2007 at 11:13.
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Old 30th April 2007, 11:14   #11
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there is quite some misconception here. Though the engine is just 1.0 litre, there's lots of innovations involved to make the car easy to drive.

Also, how come its wrong for GM to price a new car at a premium, while its ok if Maruti does it? There is no way swift vdi is worth the price at the moment. And zen wagonR top model is prices similar to base Swift. Matiz has always been seen as a good car in India( except the lack of power with a/c on, which again was due to the a/c being too powerful.)

The central dash is certainly a put off but the car is certainly a better buy than the zen if abs and airbags will be offered as an option.

And I think Gm is also giving a 3 year warranty which others give at an extra price. Plus Gm service is constantly improving.

Last edited by devarshi84 : 30th April 2007 at 11:15.
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Old 30th April 2007, 11:22   #12
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i m surprised to read a small car review by GTO.i think GM needs to rethink the pricing which is on higher side and wont benefit spark sales as chevrolet brand is even closely popular as Hyundai or Maruti in this segment.
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Old 30th April 2007, 11:59   #13
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GTO,

you beat me to the test drive buddy nice review, but looks overpriced on the road. only time will tell whether the indian junta appreciates this car.
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Old 30th April 2007, 16:31   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devarshi84 View Post
Also, how come its wrong for GM to price a new car at a premium, while its ok if Maruti does it? There is no way swift vdi is worth the price at the moment. And zen wagonR top model is prices similar to base Swift.
Good point but problem is that the Swift Diesel right now has no direct competition whereas the Spark is being lauched in an end of the market where there is cut-throat competition. Look at how many rivals it has:

Zen Estilo, WagonR, Santro, Palio, Indica and due to their absurd pricing it has gone into the Swift, Getz, U-VA segment also.

How do you expect the car to suceed if the overall impression is that of over pricing & poor VFM? Secondly, apart from Novelty & Looks I don't really see a USP for the Spark. GM is already hyping that the car will give 27kmpl but we all know how true that is going to be.

A friend just TD'ed one today & came away unimpressed by the back seat space (cramped & only for 2 people according to him) and also another customer there told him that with discount he can get the Santro top model for around 3.80L. So he's now much more interested in the Santro over the Spark.
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Old 30th April 2007, 16:57   #15
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What I cannot fathom is why manufacturers who have been around for a while in this market are failing miserably when it comes to pricing.

First the Logan, now the Spark, what next? Everyone is hoping like hell I guess that Maruti don't screw up on the SX4 pricing!
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