The new Chevrolet Spark is the latest car in the General Motors Chevrolet line up to get a facelift and comply with the rest of the Chevrolet family in terms of looks. The car has been given better interiors as well. Can the Spark now regain some lost ground from its main rivals the Maruti Alto 800 and the Maruti Alto K10?
The Spark was launched by General Motors in 2008 in India. The car is familiar to Indian buyers because it is based on the erstwhile Daewoo Matiz that was sold in India between 1998 and 2002. While the Matiz was an 800 cc, three-cylinder, the Spark has a 1-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine. One would have expected this slightly more powerful Spark to easily challenge the Altos, but the sales numbers share a different story. Also read: Chevrolet launches facelifted Spark
Between January 2011 and June 2011, the Spark was selling a fairly respectable 3,300 units a month. But from July 2011 onward sales began to dip, with the car selling only 1430 units a month. Part of this reason could be the rise in petrol prices which hit most hatchbacks hard. And part of the reason could also be the launch of the diesel Chevrolet Beat, which weaned away some buyers, although the Alto and Alto K10 were not adversely affected. And this year, the car sold 1100 units and January, but has fallen to a mere 250 units in September! Can it recover lost ground? Also see: Worst selling cars in September 2012
Let’s see how it compares to the Alto K10 and Alto 800.
One thing that the Spark has going for it is cuter looks compared to the Alto 800 and the Alto K10. The Spark’s rounded design also frees up more cabin space inside for the occupants, with headroom and legroom being better than the Alto K10 and comparable to the new Alto 800. Boot space is the same as the Altos at 170 litres. The driving position in the Spark is slightly taller.
In terms of engine performance, the 1-litre, 4-cylinder Chevrolet Spark puts out more power than the Alto 800. The Spark puts out 63 bhp of power and 87 Nm of torque with a five-speed manual transmission, compared to 47.5 bhp and 69 Nm for the Alto 800. Of course, it’s no match for the lighter and peppier Alto K10, whose 3-cylinder K-series 1-litre petrol engine puts out 67 bhp of power and 90 Nm of torque. In terms of fuel economy too, the Spark loses out at just 18 kmpl claimed mileage compared to 22.7 kmpl for the Alto 800 and the 20 kmpl for the Alto K10. Also read: Maruti Alto 800 vs Maruti Alto K10
In terms of features, all variants of the Spark have a digital tachometer, fuel and temperature gauge, with a large speedometer dominating the centre console. The Alto K10 VXI has a tachometer, while the others don’t. The Spark also gets four power windows in its top-end LT variant, while the Altos only have two power windows. The Alto 800, however, also offers an airbag option.
What’s probably not working in favour of the Chevrolet Spark is its pricing. The base variant of the Spark starts at Rs. 3.26 lakh and goes up to Rs. 3.80 lakh for the petrol variants (3 variants). Compare that to the Alto 800, which starts at Rs. 2.44 lakh and goes up to Rs. 2.99 lakh for the petrol variants, and you clearly see the Spark is quite a bit more expensive. It’s also expensive compared to the Alto K10, which is priced at Rs. 3.18 lakh and Rs. 3.31 lakh for its two variants. The Alto 800 offers CNG fuelled variants that are priced between Rs. 3.19 lakh and Rs. 3.56 lakh, while the Chevrolet Spark offers LPG fuelled variants priced between Rs. 3.81 lakh and Rs. 4.10 lakh, where the base Spark LPG is nearly Rs. 30,000 more expensive than the top-end Alto 800. Also read: Five most value-for-money hatchbacks
Easy maintenance package
General Motors is offering a three-year maintenance package for 45,000 km and a three-year warranty good for 100,000 km with the Spark. This is one of the vehicle’s selling points. But when you compare that with the extensive service network and the price of Maruti spares, the Spark really isn’t that great a deal. Also read: Newly launched cars vs cars with festive offers
Can the facelifted Spark survive?
While the looks are fresh and the car is good, it fails to beat the Alto twins on mileage and pricing mainly, while remaining average on the performance count as well. Why would you a buyer want to choose a Chevrolet Spark? If you like cute looks and want to be different, you could buy a Spark – as it offers some degree of exclusivity in the sea of Altos. A Spark would be a good choice as the second car in the household, for someone who just wants a city runabout. But as a first time buyer or someone with a tight budget, most buyers would opt for a mass-appeal brand like the Alto or the Alto K10. Also read: Chevrolet deals on Beat and Spark
Sadly, the face-lifted Spark just doesn’t have enough of a spark to set the sales charts on fire.