$6,091 - $11,581

2014 Chevrolet Spark Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2014 Chevrolet Spark was new.


Performance: 5.0

Although the 2014 Chevrolet Spark isn't the most powerful subcompact car on the market, reviewers say it offers sufficient power to propel the car along city streets and highways. Test drivers report that its handling is admirable for a subcompact, the ride is generally smooth and the steering is precise, though the Spark feels less stable at higher speeds. Reviewers say the five-speed manual transmission makes good use of the Spark’s power.

  • "Serious drivers might feel there's something lacking under the hood, but if you're not taxing the powerplant too much, you should be able to get decent fuel economy in the 30 mpg range." -- AutoTrader
  • “Thankfully, it doesn't drive like a misshapen van, as it's remarkably agile around turns." -- Edmunds
  • "Performance is modest though, let's be clear, in this segment the Spark more than holds its own." -- Road and Track (2013)
  • "While one might harbor low expectations for such a low-power engine, we found that it propelled the minicar with ease and was much quieter and smoother than we initially expected." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The Chevrolet Spark comes with a 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 84 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is available on all trims. With the CVT, the Spark gets an EPA-estimated 30/39 mpg city/highway, which is great for an affordable subcompact car.

The Spark has one of the lowest horsepower ratings in the class, but reviewers say that the Spark has adequate power for most commuters, and is capable of holding its own on the freeway. Some test drivers also like the five-speed manual transmission, saying that it makes the Spark more fun to drive.

  • "While the Spark won't win any drag races, its 4-cylinder engine isn't severely taxed by its roughly 2,200-lb curb weight. The CVT is likely an improvement over the 4-speed, but it's still designed more for fuel economy than outright acceleration. Opt for the 5-speed manual and you'll appreciate having more control over power delivery, as well as the fun of rowing your own gears." -- AutoTrader
  • "With only 84 hp -- less than many motorcycles -- it's clear that the 2014 Chevrolet Spark is not intended to excite or inspire. With the five-speed manual transmission, there's adequate acceleration for merging onto freeways. The manual transmission's shift throws are unusually long in order to reduce effort, yet the well-spaced gates make for precise gearchanges." -- Edmunds
  • "The 1.2-liter engine's 84 hp proved capable enough' the transmission is programmed to give the car a powerful feel when pulling away from a stop. But you won't be beating any lap-time records with the 2013 Chevrolet Spark." -- AutoWeek (2013)
  • "It's no firecracker, but the engine felt sufficient in stop-and-go traffic and during short blasts along the notoriously chaotic Brooklyn-Queens Expressway." -- Road and Track (2013, five-speed manual)

Alternative Fuels/Charging

The all-electric Chevrolet Spark EV has an electric motor and a single-speed transmission. It gets an EPA-estimated 128/109 mpg-equivalent, which is slightly better than that of all-electric rivals, such as the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus Electric. The Spark EV can go about 82 miles on a full battery, and it takes around 20 hours to fully charge when plugged into a standard 120-volt outlet.

Test drivers say the Chevrolet Spark EV is a capable city runabout and is notably peppier off the line compared to its gas-only rivals, thanks to its electric motor, which generates lots of torque.

  • "Right out of the gate, the Spark EV feels fast -- especially from a dead stop -- thanks to its 400 lb-ft of torque. It may not look the part, but the Spark EV really pushes you back in your seat when you push down on the accelerator.” -- AutoTrader
  • "Compared to the gasoline-powered Spark (or any other conventional subcompact car), the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV accelerates quite briskly. Cut-and-thrust maneuvers through suburban traffic are no problem at all, given the car's immense low-end torque." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say the Spark has responsive steering and handling that is decent for the class. Its small size makes it easy to park and maneuver in tight spaces, reviewers say, but they add that like most subcompacts, it’s ride could be more comfortable at highway speeds.

  • "Although the Spark is far from a sport sedan, this small Chevy still manages to deliver well-mannered driving characteristics overall." -- Edmunds
  • "The steering is quick, precise, and provides better feedback than we've experienced in other small cars with electric steering and, just as important, doesn't get twitchy at higher speeds." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)
  • "Instead, the Spark remained remarkably composed and quiet over some of the worst roads New York has to offer. In some applications, electric power steering can be something of a mixed bag, it helps increase efficiency but the feedback is overly artificial. Yet the system fitted in the Spark offered a nice blend of feel and accuracy." -- Road and Track (2013)
  • "The Spark has a very short wheelbase, so don't expect comfortable highway cruising. If the bulk of your commute is done on busy inner-city streets where tight parking spaces and traffic merges are prevalent, however, then the Spark's diminutive size will outweigh its jumpy ride." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
  • "The ride and road holding get help from standard 15-inch aluminum wheels with beefy tires, and the Spark didn't seem as flustered at 70 mph as the Fiat 500 or the Scion iQ." -- AutoWeek (2013)

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