2014 Chevrolet Spark EV: First Drive Report

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Aspire, Sprint, Swift, and Esteem: They’re among the most ironically inappropriate car names.

But in its new EV guise, the Chevy Spark has the perfect name, on many levels. This car certainly has more than a spark of personality; it's all-electric (forget about those spark plugs); and, perhaps most importantly, as GM's first battery-electric car since the 1990s-era EV1, it's a Spark of something greater.

Whether you look to Lenin, Mao, or Ayn Rand, the Spark is a symbol of revolution and motivation—and we'd like to think that GM considered that...but maybe we're projecting.

The Spark's potential does project well beyond the test-drive numbers—the 400 pound-feet torque (more than a Porsche 911 or Ferrari 458 Italia!) and 7.6-second 0-60 figures that GM spokespeople are especially eager to share.

The broader base of appeal for the Spark EV is, perhaps, just the fact that it's one of the first all-electric cars that can fit four and is well below the cost of the average new car today, considering federal tax credits and state rebates. With an EPA rated range of 82 miles on a full charge—well within the daily-driving needs of the vast majority of Americans—it makes a no-brainer second car, especially for anyone living near established charging infrastructure.

Go gasoline-free, on a (relatively) low budget

That’s exactly the case in Portland, Oregon, where we spend a day this week driving the new 2014 Spark EV. We think that it's not just one of the best-driving electric cars yet, but one of the most affordable ways yet to make your daily driving completely gasoline-free.

On the outside, the appearance of the Spark EV is quite like the gasoline-engine Spark, but just different enough to be able to pick the EV out at close range. A grille-blanking panel at the front looks a lot like the one used in the Chevrolet Volt, while the fuel door has been completely removed from the rear fender and a charging door and port have been added to the front left fender. In addition to that there are a host of additional small aerodynamic improvements (like a larger hatchback spoiler, active grille shutters, side body sill extensions, underbody panels, and a rear valence panel stamped with ‘EV’.The color palette is also different—including a soft, almost baby-blue hue, Blue Ray, for our test car. Oh, and unlike the Volt, the Spark does not scrape its front end on every driveway, ramp, and speed bump.

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