2016 Chevrolet Spark EV
The Spark EV is the all-electric version of Chevrolet's supermini five-door hatchback. As one would expect, its green credentials are superb - the Spark EV is one of the most efficient vehicle available on the retail market - but it's also the hot rod of the Spark lineup thanks to an electric motor that produces 400 lb-ft of torque.
That's almost than five times the twist the gas-powered Spark can offer, and there's also 130 horsepower on tap. Zero-to-sixty mph is achieved in under eight seconds - not bad for an eco-friendly electric vehicle.
Despite that performance, the Spark EV is rated at 128 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) in the city, 109 MPGe on the highway and 119 MPGe combined. The electric runabout also delivers a respectable 82-mile driving range.
Electricity is sourced from a 20 kWh lithium-ion battery pack located beneath the rear seats and cargo area, where it eats up a not-inconsiderable amount of space. With the rear seats folded, there's just 23.4 cubic inches of storage available, compared with 31.2 cubes in the fossil fuel edition of the Spark.
Recharging is a Spark EV strong point thanks to an industry-first combo charger that allows DC Fast Charging of up to 80 percent of battery capacity in about 20 minutes. Charging via a 240V outlet requires seven hours for a full top-off, while a 120V outlet takes about double that time.
In order to allay fears of battery failure, the Spark EV's battery pack is backed by GM's eight-year/100,000 mile warranty. The automaker says the battery can also withstand multiple DC fast charges daily.
Inside and Out
The Spark EV also shares most of its interior styling with its gas cousin, but it does sport twin seven-inch LCD displays that take the form of a unique gauge cluster and a dashboard-mounted infotainment touchscreen. Both offer HD resolution and can be reconfigured to provide a variety of vehicle info, including a "confidence gauge" that shows an estimated driving range based on driving habits and other conditions. There's also an "efficiency gauge" that encourages green driving habits in order to help maximize range.
Standard tech includes Chevrolet's MyLink system, which controls the sound system and connectivity functions while also offering access to smartphone-based apps like Pandora radio, Stitcher radio and BringGo full-function navigation. It can be accessed through voice commands or the touchscreen display.
The electric Spark boasts OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.
For iPhone users, Apple's Siri can also ride shotgun. Buttons on the steering wheel allow drivers to easily and safely access Siri's many functions and place phone calls, play songs from iTunes, listen and compose text messages and add appointments to their calendars.
Thanks to a high roof and clever packaging, there's more passenger space than one would expect given the diminutive exterior dimensions. Rear-seat legroom is adequate for adults, although it should be noted that the rear middle seat is so narrow that Chevrolet didn't even bother fitting a seat belt.
Eagle-eyed observers will note that the Spark EV features a model-specific grille and unique bumpers. It's also fitted with full-length plastic panels that make the underbody totally flat and help reduce drag, along with a functional rear diffuser.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Spark EV is offered in 1LT and 2LT trim levels.
The 1LT comes standard with A/C, full power accessories, MyLink infotainment, Bluetooth connectivity, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM stereo with a USB input, cruise control, remote keyless entry, foglights and machined-face aluminum wheels.
The 2LT adds leatherette upholstery, heated front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The Spark EV puts many larger and more expensive vehicles to shame with its comprehensive array of 10 airbags, including dual front, front side, front knee, rear side and full-length side curtain units. Traction and stability control systems and emergency braking assist are also standard.
All-electric alternatives to the Spark EV include larger but more expensive rides like the fine-driving Ford Focus Electric and the Nissan Leaf.
There's a catch: the electric Spark is only offered in California, in Oregon, and in Maryland.