Earlier this week - Monday to be specific, we reported that the first Chevrolet Spark EVs had reached dealerships in California, ready to be sold.
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Since then, it took Consumer Reports less than 72 hours to get their hands on one and file a "first drive" report...they seem to like it.
"The latest Chevrolet Spark is the most recent EV to attempt to shatter electric cars' reputation as anemic and inept. And it succeeds, being the best version of this small hatchback. Unlike the Mitsubishi i, this is no glorified golf cart."
Comparatively speaking, the tiny Spark EV gets 82 miles of range from a starting MSRP of $27,495; the even smaller Mitsubishi i-MiEV will net you just 62 miles from a price of $29,975.
Consumer Reports Questions GM's Decision To Only Offer 3.3 kW Level 2 Charging
Consumer Reports leads with the electric Chevy's strongest suit - on road dynamics.
The Spark EV has a 0-60 time of 7.5 seconds, making it one of the fastest publicly available plug-ins on the market today...not bad considering it is also the second cheapest EV offering in the US (after the smart ED).
Thanks to an astounding 400 lb-ft of torque and some unique gearing, CR finds that the Spark EV is one of the few EVs that keeps pulling all the way up to its top speed of 90 mph.
"Turning the diminutive Spark into an EV transforms it into a punchy, zippy, fun little runabout, a far cry from the conventional, slow noisy and stiff Spark that earned a meager overall score in our tests."
The auto magazine also notes the extra 7 miles of range the Spark EV has over its top-selling Japanese rival - the Nissan LEAF, but laments GM's fairly dated decision to give their car only 3.3 kW charging, making a full charge of the EV's 21.3 kWh battery take an unnecessarily long time.
"It takes seven hours to replenish the battery on 240 volts. It could have been faster had GM chosen a 6.6-kWh onboard charger, but GM's engineers say they didn't see the need for it. They did, however, go to the trouble of equipping the Spark with the new SAE "combo" charging port that eventually will allow for fast DC charging to 80 percent of the battery's capacity in 20 minutes."
Italian Rival Fiat 500e and Chevrolet Spark EV Interiors
Consumer Reports (and almost all reviewers) have never been a big fan of many electric vehicles 'range estimators' as the variance is too wide. A light foot equals an excessive estimate, a heavy foot a very pessimistic one; and while this still true in the Spark EV, GM engineers have carried forward some Volt-learning to provide both ends of the guessing spectrum in the Spark EV's "confidence meter."
As for the interactive "connected radio," it is the same set-up in the gas Spark (as an option). The 7" display screen includes Pandora, Stitcher, Tune-In Internet radio, Bluetooth phone pairing, and GM's BringGo navigation system. But be warned, the unit only utilizes your smart phone's data plan; so if you are on a limited plan, you could be in for a shock at billing time.
Currently the Spark EV is only available in California and Oregon. When added with state credits, the Spark EV gets a $10,000 discount in California ($17,495 effective) and $8,250 in Oregon ($19,245). The Spark is also available from $199/month ($999 down), ex-state rebates.