When Nissan introduced their new Micra subcompact hatchback a few years ago, it made lots of headlines, because it had a starting price of under $10,000 (to be precise, it was listed at $9,998).
Mitsubishi followed shortly after by chopping the price of their Mirage model, so it could match the Micra.
Chevrolet was sitting back, and watching how this game was being played, so when it had its all-new 2016 Spark coming out, they decided to undercut their competition and priced their car at $9,995 – just $3.00 less than the Micra.
Nissan reacted by dropping the price of their base Micra by $10.00 – so, it is now listed at $9,988. Mitsubishi couldn’t afford to react, decided to skip the 2016 model year for the Mirage altogether, and are pricing their 2017 Mirage from $12,698. So, if you’re buying a car based on a dollar figure alone, the Nissan Micra wins the price wars.
So, where does that leave the new Chevrolet Spark? It isn’t the most affordable new car sold in Canada, and from just an aesthetic point of view, it isn’t even as good looking as the model it replaces. So, what does it have going for it?
Interior style is certainly not its forte either, although the quality of materials is quite good, and the living quarters are decently commodious. If you’re buying the base model – like my tester – then you don’t get lots of conveniences we’re used to, so if you want remote locks, power windows, and power mirrors, you’ll have to pay extra. However, it does have power steering as standard, and it also gets a reversing camera – which was a nice surprise.
It also has a willing motor, which was the second surprise. The 2016 Spark is only offered with a 1.4L, four-cylinder motor that features multiport fuel injection, and hence produces 98 hp and 94 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via either a five-speed manual gearbox, or a CVT automatic. My tester had the former, and this manual is a delight to use. The shifts are precise, and the clutch take up is just excellent, so this subcompact is fun to row through the gears.
Show the 2016 Spark some twisty, back roads, and it surprises again – it handles exceptionally well, and hence is fun to drive.
Moreover, it even rides quite well, and stability is decent at speed – in short, I enjoyed driving the new Spark a lot more than I have ever enjoyed a Mirage or a Micra.
If you’re one of the those who don’t like buying a domestic vehicle, then you’d be pleased to know, that the 2016 Spark is actually made in South Korea, and not North America – so it wins on that argument also.
The 2016 Chevrolet Spark is not the cheapest new car you can buy in Canada, but I honestly think, it is the best subcompact currently on sale.