From its eye-popping “Splash Blue” tones to its black and blue leatherette seats, the 2016 Chevy Spark 2LT had me at Millennial. If ever there was a ride to appeal to the younger generation – tiny but big on technology – this would be it. At one end of the Spark spectrum, one could have a junior size, with a manual tranny, no air conditioning, no leatherette or, for that matter, push button windows. But even that still comes with full 4G internet, and for just a hair under $10,000.
Since I am a grown-up lady, I opted for the deluxe end of the Spark spectrum, a fully loaded 2LT5 with all the trimmings. That included several different ways to surf the internet!
You see, it’s the Summer of Streisand. Come August, my number one singer/actress/role model will be singing her heart out at nine cities in North America, including my hometown of Toronto. She’s been hyping the tour with her usual boundless energy (it’s hard to believe she’s 74!), releasing an album, appearing on the Tony Awards, and who knows what else. I’m determined not to miss a thing.
So it was imperative that while away from my computer, I have full access to the internet at all times. You see, I need to know the minute Streisand does what she does best – the unexpected, and brilliantly. Also, I was curious – how many ways could the Spark stream Streisand?
Inside, the wee set of wheels was beyond cushy, with high end attention to detail. There was a cross-hatch design on the dash that carried over to the leatherette seats, which were quite accommodating to my skinny behind.
In fact, the Spark was surprisingly roomy inside, to where one might be hard pressed to know that they were in a sub-compact, with oodles of legroom and headroom. I leaned back into the rather luxuriant seats, and easily paired up the Bluetooth. Right away, the sonorous sounds of Streisand wafted through the cabin. Then, I plugged in my iphone and voila! Apple Car Play popped right up on the seven inch touchscreen, and with it, my music. So now, I had two ways of saturating myself with Streisand. Of course, Apply Car Play only works on the iPhone, although naturally I had to try my iPad. Chevy has one of the hardest working WiFi hotspots around, and can connect up to SEVEN devices.
Then the $64,000 question – does the internet stay on when the car is in motion? Indeed it does. I could Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat away while driving at the same time. Of course, just because I could, doesn’t mean I actually did. Only researching in the name of science to ascertain that I could. Hmm – some people would prefer there be some safety-oriented standards to prevent active access to the internet while driving.
To be fair, Apple Car Play includes Siri, and there is a dedicated menu for Voice Command, which enables hands-free telephone access and navigation. But I didn’t fare well with the voice activated navigation, which had a hard time recognizing my destination.
Another surprise was the fact that I had to use an actual iPhone cord to pull up Apple Car Play. Since wi-fi is available (although finding the wi-fi password turned out to be a little clunky), one would think the iPhone cord, which let’s face it, is so very 2012, would not be necessary.
But the tiny Spark was an able-bodied contender for big city traffic, nicely nipping in and out of lanes and tight spots. We easily took on notoriously car-averse Kensington Market, with its narrow streets, scofflaw bicyclists and perturbed pedestrians. This neighbourhood has recently come under fire for jumping the gun on the federal government’s proposed legalization of marijuana – “dispensaries” have sprouted from a number of storefronts, and even before you see them, you can smell them. Although Kensington has always been a haven for pot smokers, it’s now practically reefer madness. Even cars are left to go to pot, and transformed into community art gardens. Why, you can almost get high just walking around, breathing in the second hand 420. And it seemed, by their lack of attentiveness to motorized vehicles, a number of folks had been doing just that. Fortunately, the little Spark could stop on a dime, and often had to.
Cute as a bug in a rug, the little Spark drew attention from all kinds of folk. From an elderly woman who was taken by its unusual hue (“why, it’s almost lavendar”) to the bicyclist who pulled up next to me at a red light and boogied down to The Sounds of Philadelphia. Unfortunately, it also caught the eye of an eager parking mercenary who swooped in to slap me with a ticket, when there were only four minutes left to actual legal parking time. Drat!
Mileage, as might be expected of a car this diminutive, was most decent. I averaged about 6 to 8 litres per 100 k, or about 40 mpg of pretty strictly city driving, and usually in rush hour.
Down by the harbour, I sipped on a cold bevvie in the Spark, listening to Streisand while watching the lazy waves on the lake. Out of nowhere, a rather nicely muscled speciman of beefcake came sailing along on his cigarette boat, vastly improving my view.
But that was typical of the Spark. All kinds of good things could happen, even when you weren’t expecting them.
The little Spark is up to it, even those pesky parking tickets and potty pedestrians.