Chevrolet Spark Offers Excellent Driving Dynamics And Performance
The Chevrolet Spark is as much about style as it is about functionality. Add in practicality, low fuel consumption, and low emissions together with excellent performance and driving dynamics.
GMSA has built on this solid foundation to add value with a competitive pricing structure that followed the transition to the local manufacture of this popular small car. Local manufacture has brought with it the advantage of increased flexibility in manufacturing and specification that can be fine-tuned to local preferences.
This is evidenced in the 2013 model year Spark with the adoption of the latest global styling treatment combined with local enhancements for interior and exterior trim and an extension of the model range upwards to include a top-level Chevrolet Spark LT specification and the addition of a unique urban delivery solution, the Spark Pronto.
Cosmetic improvements and enhanced specification aside, the Spark continues to offer advanced vehicle dynamics with taut and responsive handling characteristics. At the heart of this is a body structure with a high level of torsional rigidity that provides a platform to mount the drive-line and suspension in a way that allows handling, stability and comfort to be optimised with a heightened sense of confidence and fun-to-drive element for the driver and passengers.
The suspension follows a well-proven and effective layout. A McPherson strut system is used at the front with a torsion beam system used at the rear, a combination that provides for neutral and predictable handling characteristics with nimble handling around town and surefooted confidence on the open road.
While the high strength chassis design provides for excellent vehicle dynamics, it is also designed to provide a high level of occupant protection in the event of a collision. As much as 60% of the Spark’s structure consists of high strength latest technology steels. Varying degrees of stiffness are achieved by design through the structure to promote a high level of crash impact energy absorption without compromise to the ride and handling characteristics.
The front engine bay rails and sub-frame are designed as a primary impact absorbing zone that will absorb a high level of energy as they collapse in the event of a collision. A transition zone around the base of the ‘A’ pillars and front bulkhead effectively distributes crash energy around the frame rather than into the passenger compartment.
A similar approach is adopted at the rear of the vehicle with crush zones designed to distribute energy away from the passenger area. A strong rear cross member provides extra protection. The fuel tank and its connectors are designed to minimise the possibility of ruptures in the event of a rear-end impact. This high level of passive protection is supplemented by a pedal retraction system that assists in preventing the driver’s lower leg area from being trapped and injured in a severe impact.
Complementing these designed-in safety features are active elements including ABS brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution, and frontal airbags for both driver and front seat passenger on all models including the Pronto with seat side airbags on the LT model.
Power for the Chevrolet Spark comes from a 1,2 litre, double overhead cam, 16-valve petrol engine with multi-port electronic fuel injection. A cast iron cylinder block is used together with an aluminium alloy cylinder head. Camshaft drive is via a chain system for reduced running costs.
Maximum power is 60 kW produced at 6400 r/min. Peak torque of 108 Nm is produced at 4800 r/min. Drive is via a five-speed manual transmission.
The Spark driveline is at the core of exceptional economy together with a high level of performance. Ever increasing fuel prices, now more than ever, place a focus on economy of operation and here the Spark offers a combined cycle fuel consumption of just 5,4 l/100km, in line with the government SANS standard. In open road cruising this number can drop as low as 4,5 l/100km and in an urban environment with stop-start conditions consumption rises to around 7 l/100km. CO2 emissions are just 129 g/km.
Together with this miserly fuel consumption comes a 13,3 second time for the 0-100 km dash. Top speed is 164 km/h.
The Chevrolet Spark certainly matches its contemporary style and functionality with performance and exceptional economy.