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KIA: Now it's the edgy, wedgy Koup

Kia continues to pleasantly surprise the South African car market with its growing product choice. The addition of the sexily sporty, 225km/h, Koup, says DAVE FALL, has just made things even better.

Chevrolet Spark delivers economic performance

2005-11-29 12:32

With its easy going nature and economic performance, the Spark has conquered the hearts of small-car buyers the world over - and is now available locally in three derivatives.

"The concept of the Spark is simple -a small, practical car which is highly suited to the needs of a rapidly-increasing number of motorists," says Arthur Boyle, marketing manager of Chevrolet.

"Complimenting the Spark's innovative design is its versatility as a modern small vehicle, with a roomy interior, attractive price tag and easy driving characteristics."

The Spark L is powered by the same 800cc three-cylinder fuel injected engine carried over from the outgoing model, producing 37.5 kW of power at 5 900 r/min and 68.6 Nm of torque at 4 600 r/min.

The three-cylinder design provides a very flat torque curve, which provides a much less peaky power delivery than would be expected from an engine of this size, and ensures that the Spark exceeds most performance expectations.

The Spark L is nippy and a pleasure to drive around town - it is responsive and has a very light gear change.

The Spark LS and LT are powered by a 1-litre four-cylinder SOHC engine which delivers 48.5 kW at 5 400 r/min and 87.3 Nm of torque at 4 200 r/min.

For longer journeys and the open road the 1-litre engine provides greater power for a more relaxing drive at sustained higher speeds.

Both engines are compliant with Euro 2 emission regulations, complete with catalytic converters.

With its five-speed manual transmission driving the front wheels, the three-cylinder unit accelerates the Spark to a top speed of 142 km/h.

 Handling & safety

To improve the handling of the new Spark, a completely new torsion beam rear axle was used, coupled to angled shock absorbers and semi trailing arms.

This provides much greater precision wheel control than the previously used trailing link axle.

At the same time, gas pressure shock absorbers are now fitted as standard; together with softer mounting rubbers in the suspension links to improve ride comfort.

The L model has 4.5 J steel wheels with 145/70 R 13 tyres and styled wheel covers, while the LS and LT have 4.5 J alloy wheels with 155/65 R13 tyres. In the interest of safety, all models have a full sized spare wheel.

Due to its ultra-compact dimensions, the Chevrolet Spark is extremely manoeuvrable -a major advantage in urban traffic.

With its exterior length of 3 495 mm and a turning circle of just over nine metres, it fits into even the smallest parking space.

"Spark has the answer for traffic nightmares with a tight turning circle and accurate steering; its one of the most agile cars in the market," says Boyle.

"Agility is also assisted by great visibility from the high driving position, low waistline and slim pillars for those tight reversing occasions."

Attention has also been paid to noise levels.

Reduced noise

The revised engine mounting system reduces engine noise intrusion and controls the engine more effectively at idle. Increased sound deadening has also been applied - particularly in the areas of the engine bulkhead and the suspension mountings.

Safety has not been ignored in the pursuit of developing a lightweight, nippy vehicle.

The new Spark meets all the EEC safety requirements, and carefully designed energy absorbing zones provide protection in the event of a front or side impact.

The Spark also complies with the latest European regulations on pedestrian protection.

The Spark LT also comes equipped with ABS as a standard feature, as well a driver and passenger side airbags.

A driver side airbag is also standard on the Spark LS.

Fuel Economy

Despite its good driving performance, the small Spark - which weighs in at around 800 kg - is very modest when it comes to fuel consumption.

Careful attention has been paid to aerodynamics, with the new Chevrolet Spark having a lower drag coefficient than the superseded model, although the slightly higher roofline does add definition to the frontal area.

This combination has resulted in an improvement in interior space but without a corresponding sacrifice in fuel consumption.

As a result, the Spark remains extremely fuel efficient, with the Spark 1.0-litre models consuming 5 litres/100km on an open road cycle, and 6.5 litre/100km on an urban cycle.

Also producing respectable figures, the Spark L consumes 7.9 litres/100 km on an open road and 5.1 litres/100 km on an urban cycle.

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