Chevy Spark hp = hamster power

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. :grin:

Without looking up the specs on each I do note certain comparisons between the Corolla built fifty years ago and the current Spark.

Safety Features
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.

Cargo Area
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. :grin:

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I test drove a 2018 Spark and did not find the things that you don’t care for . We did not buy it because of a better deal on the 2018 Ford Fiesta . It is aimed at people needing what is called a City Car.


@VOLVO-V70 I agree that the Spark has its place as a budget priced small city car just as does a Ford Fiesta. I’m not being negative about the Spark.

But I am amused to find the driving experience rather reminiscent to that of the '73 Corolla “Toy” of many years ago. “Gee, I remember how to drive this.” :rofl:

I’m just having a bit of fun comparing econobox apples and oranges. :grin:

P.S. Today’s hamsters must have bigger hamster wheels under the hood since the Spark needs only three hamsters, whereas the old Toy needed four hamsters. :wink:

We received a Spark as a rental car on a visit to Maui. I laughed every time I went to the parking lot to “my” car. It got us around the Island for 12 days on one tank of gas.

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The Chevrolet Spark sold in North America has a 4 cylinder engine. 2016 - 2022 1.4 L engine is rated @ 98 hp.

Statistics prove your feeling to be correct. The sub compacts like the Toyota Yaris, Spark, and Kia Rio have the highest fatality rates. I believe the very compact Mitsubishi Mirage has them beat though.

What’s the distance between the driver’s chest and the front bumper? A lot of these cars have short front ends, with so little space around the engine that you can’t reach in there without taking stuff off. No matter how advanced the crumple zone is, if there are only 6 inchs of space to work with it can’t do much.

Just ignore the Snowman.

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To make the Spark a bit stronger and safer, they had to thicken up the pillars and raise the window bottoms. That hurts visibility. Hurts luggage capacity some as well.

I am actually a bit shocked that it comes with crank windows!


@Mustangman Yep, crank windows and manual button door locks. :grin:

And, yes, beefing up the strength/safety of the pillars and allowing room for the airbsgs, and making the doors more impact safe which requires a raised belt line all create more blind spots. It’s a trade off that mostly improves safety. The back-up cameras help compensate for less driver visibility, including how the tall seat backs obstruct checking blind spots. I’ll take the overall improved safety even though I regret the lessened visibility as a driver!

But it has bells and whistles such as a radio, rear view camera, rear window wiper, intermittant wipers, a/c etc. So today’s sub-compact has safety improvements and some “luxury” features that yesteryears cars lacked.

Not everyone needs, likes, can afford the same thing. It’s nice that there are a variety of vehicles to choose from.

I know that I preferred to buy the LE trimline Camry to top of the trimline Corolla in 2014. The Camry is simply more comfortable than was the Corolla. The compact size would have met my needs but at the time I could afford to buy the mid-size for the added comfort.

(But I still think that sub-compacts, like the compacts of yesteryears, run on hamster power! :grin:)

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… but that makes it the ideal next car for our forum members who are technology-phobic luddites.


The 2017 Spark model S does not have cruise control . Remember the person who bought one and was mad because the cruise control did not work .

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Back in March here in OK some teen girls died instantly when they made a left in front of a semi.
Six teens in a 4 seat Chevy Spark.