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Reader test: Chevrolet Spark

2009-09-07 10:12

Craig Campbell, Cape Town

I took the plunge to try out one of the small economy cars in mid-2006 and I purchased the Spark LS as I thought the LT was not worth the extra R11 000.

I was quite happy with the air conditioner, electric windows up front and the key operated central locking. I think it was the right choice as the steering wheel is pretty light so power steering is not needed.

As a driver of 30 years, I have owned many cars and driven many luxury vehicles as part of my job. I’m the kind of A - B motorist and don’t care much for the high tech, silly and unnecessary gadgets in some cars. Keeping it simple is more appealing and leaves a lot less to go wrong, go wrong, go wrong. To date, my Spark and I have covered 85 000 km trouble free and with few complaints.

Ideal around town

The Sparky is an ideal town car, easy to park and pretty light on fuel, averaging 15km to a litre around town and up to 20km to a litre on long trips.

It’s not a car for a family of four.  Perhaps it would still be fine for a couple with small children.
Boot space is very limited, but my wife and I find it sufficient as the back seats can always be used for that extra space when needed.

We have motored up to Johannesburg on four occasions, two trips to Port Elizabeth and a few tours of the back roads of the Karoo. The car cruises comfortably at 120 km/h, even clocking 160 km/h (according to my GPS) on a few occasions. Quite scary in such a small car.

The power loss at JHB altitude is hardly noticeable, even when using the air conditioner.

One error I did make was that the factory-fitted tyres were not of a great quality and after two punctures I went to a local tyre dealer and replaced all four at 30 000 km.

Minor speedhump

The tyre experts recommended I fit 165 x 75 x 13s.  This I did on their advice. That was a big mistake as it altered the gearing of the car quite considerably.  Faster on the pull off, but no top end power on hills and for overtaking.

I fitted the correct size tyres 3 months ago and what a big difference the correct size - 155 x 55 x 13 -  has made. So be warned, always fit the same size tyres as the originals and be prepared to pay 40% more as this tyre size is not made in South Africa.

The interior’s plastic is not of a great quality and is easily damaged. The absence of a heat gauge with only a light on the dash is not ideal either.

I did find the agents services a bit steep for such an economy car, as most of them were over R 2 000 a time.I now do the services myself at a cost of R500 all in.

For the price it’s a great little car and I will hang on to this one for a while still.

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