Driving a loaner car, a Chevy Spark, from the indie mechanic shop this afternoon while my Camry is getting some maintenance.
I can’t help laughing. Driving the Chevy Spark brings back memories of the 1973 Toyota Corolla I drove from '75-'87. Hamster powered, both definitely hamster powered cars, then and now.
Without looking up the specs on each I do note certain comparisons between the Corolla built fifty years ago and the current Spark.
Advantage modern Spark. Airbags, shoulder belt incorporated into the seat belt, modern crumple zones, back-up camera, etc. The '73 Corolla had none of those. That said, fifty years on, the current Spark feels as vulnerable as the Toy did, simply due to the econobox size and anemic engine (apologies to the hamsters.)
Uhm, I’ll call it a draw. Four hamsters in the '73 Toy, three hamsters in the current Spark.
Acceleration in both decidedly slow (glacial) although when the gas pedal is tromped to the floor the Spark does wind up notably less slow than did the old Toy. However, the old 4-hamster Toy’s engine ran much smoother and quieter, and idled imbeccibly smoother than does the 3-hamster Spark. The 3-hamster Spark has a decidedly noisier engine and rough idle. I’ll need to look up specs to compare estimated mpg of each.
Advantage '73 Corolla!!! The old Toy had a surprisingly large, easily accessible, quite handy trunk that accomodated a generous amount of cargo for a little econobox car and didn’t require folding down the back seats to carry plenty of groceries and bags of cat litter or a fair amount of luggage. The modern Spark’s so-called cargo area is a virtually non-existent joke.
Suspension and Handling
Probably advantage Spark. The old Toy had bias-ply tires (tire terminology?) versus the modern Spark likely having radial tires. I assume the Spark has better technology suspension design and components than that from fifty years ago in the Toy. Both had/have a decidedly rougher ride due to their short wheelbase than did/do most mid-size cars. That said, I don’t recall the '73 Toy riding or handling particularly less well than the Spark but confess that I’m not sure since it has been thirty-five years since the Corolla was my daily driver.
Advantage Spark. Despite old-school crank windows etc., the Spark does have A/C, a quite good A/C in fact, a radio, automatic headlight settings, and intermittant and rear window wipers. The old Toy had none of those. The Spark’s outside mirrors are easily manually adjustible from inside. The old Toy had only the driver’s side mirror on the outside which had to be adjusted from the outside, and did not have a passenger side mirror.
Well, the Spark’s seats have a safer design. As to seat comfort, I liked the old Toy’s seats better. But comparative seat comfort is admittedly a very subjective personal preference. Both cars had/have very easy to slide forward/backward seat position adjustment.
The Spark is presumably less econobox tinfoil unsafe than the Toy was. But despite the several bare bones trimline amenities of today’s Spark that the Corolla lacked, I liked the better visibility and smaller blind spots of the old Toy. And the Toy actually had more leg room and footwell room.
Driving the Spark reminds me that were I to buy a brand new small size vehicle today, I’d opt for either a Toyota Corolla, Toyota RAV-4, Honda Civic, Mazda CX-5, or Suburu Forrester.
So, yes, strictly speaking, this has been an “unfair” comparison between econoboxes produced fifty years apart and from different makers. But what has been interesting is comparing the relative driving experiences of the two, especially after having had larger mid to full sized cars which are far more comfortable for the past thirty five years.