A media drive event on the streets of New York City? We’re game! Earlier this year, I took part in the Ford Focus Electric first drive, traveling over a relatively short route in Midtown Manhattan. Yesterday’s 2013 Chevy Spark media drive took it to a whole new level, as we ventured out of Manhattan into Brooklyn in a fleet of tiny Sparks on a scavenger hunt for scents, sights, and sounds.
Some bloggers would rather tell you about the way that Chevy is marketing the Spark or go ga-ga about the cool places we visited. I’ll forgo the millennial-bashing and simply lay out the route.
After lunch and a presentation, I hopped in a five-speed manual equipped Spark 2LT (MSRP: $15,045 with heated leatherette front seats), and set out from Riverpark, near the East River at 1st Avenue and 30th, winding my way through Manhattan to Bond no. 9, a perfumery that specializes in making “scents of New York.” Darting through NYC traffic in an 84 horsepower subcompact? No problem. Choosing perfumes? Not my thing. From there, it was off in a four-speed automatic Spark 2LT to Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn, to sample the Momofuku Milk Bar’s specialties. I scarfed down a few cake truffles (you’ll never be satisfied with Dunkin’ Munchkins ever again) and left with a brown bag stuffed with a slice of crack pie, a compost cookie, and a jug of cereal milk (aka: milk that’s been soaking in breakfast cereal).
Our third choice for test driving proved not to be lucky. Silly me, I wanted to sample all the flavors. The LS base model starts at a remarkably low price of $12,245, so it’s no surprise that it lacks a Navigation system. I got off route in Williamsburg, missed the last stop at Pete’s Candy Store, and made the decision to head back to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge using my internal navigation skills.
And herein lies the wrinkle. Navigation is a big part of the Spark story. The 1LT (MSRP: $13,745) and 2LT models feature a seven-inch LCD touch-screen with Chevrolet’s MyLink system. MyLink delivers all the stuff you might expect these days: USB music integration, and streaming Bluetooth, along with Pandora and Stitcher apps, all presented with a crisply designed graphic interface. But never mind the music … it’s the BringGo smart phone Navigation app that really sets MyLink apart.
While the Spark is equipped with GM’s OnStar, the ($50) Bring Go app is the most affordable full-screen navigation application I’ve ever seen. Bring Go runs on a smartphone, but displays on the Spark 1LT or 2LT’s seven-inch touch-screen. This is the future, my friends. Smart phones hooked to not nearly as smart in-dash LCDs.
With two occupants, the Spark’s 84 HP 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine was sufficient for city traffic. The Spark is roughly the same size as the Fiat 500, but has a fully functional rear seating area, thanks to the higher roof line and rear doors. While it is a bit larger than the Smart Four2 and Scion iQ, it is much more versatile. Pricing is a huge advantage.
It’s been quite a while since we first saw the Spark concept roll out at the 2009 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. GM chose to market the car overseas before bringing it home to America. With luck, a Spark will land in the driveway here at Rancho Indebto for a proper review early this fall. Stay tuned …
– by Daniel Gray