Is the Chevrolet Spark EV a fun electric vehicle?
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Yes, it is. Allow me to explain. If there is one major upside to electric vehicles, it is the magical world of torque. Naturally aspirated internal combustion engines usually need around 4,000 rpm to achieve peak torque. Modern turbocharged vehicles can achieve 80% of peak torque as early as 1,250 rpm. Sure, that’s just above idle, but electric vehicles have peak torque just above 0rpm, when you need it most. So how much torque does the Chevrolet EV have? It has more than a lot of V6 sport utility vehicles on the market. It’s much more than you think.
When we think of compact cars or mid-size sedans to save money on gas, numbers usually float from 130 horsepower and 130-lb.ft. of torque, up to roughly 185 horsepower, 185-lb.ft. of torque. That seems to be the agreed consensus when it comes models such as the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and the Mazda6. For the most part, gas mileage, on the average, hovers around 27 miles per gallon to 32 miles per gallon. It’s more than adequate power and saves at the gas pump.
That’s great, honestly. They are all great cars.
But when it comes to the Chevrolet Spark EV, the torque stands out. It has 327 lb.ft. of the stuff. It enables the Spark EV to reach 0-60 times of just 7.2 seconds, plenty for a daily commuter. To say it more bluntly, it’s flat out quick.
So now you’re thinking, “It’s an electric car. It has to be heavy carrying all of those batteries.” According to the Car and Driver spec sheet, it has a curb weight of 2,866 pounds, or roughly the same as a Toyota 86. Except this time, the Spark EV actually has more than twice the torque.
Just to put things in perspective, a 2016 Toyota Highlander V6 has 248-lb.ft. of torque, a 2016 Ford Explorer V6 has 255-lb.ft. of torque, a 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe V8 has 373-lb.ft. of torque, and the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee has 260-lb.ft. of torque, according to Edmunds.com. All of those peak torque numbers are achieved between 4,000 to 5,000 rpm.
Instead of waiting on those naturally-aspirated revs, the Spark EV can carry passengers and give the SUV-like punch at the green light. With it’s compact size and power at low speeds, it’s easier to dart through traffic should the occasion arise. It’s also relatively lightweight, so the driving experience isn’t really much different from the average compact car.
You may be thinking now, “But, it has limited range.” Yes. It has a similar range of other EV cars just like the Nissan Leaf and VW e-Golf. Estimated range is 82 miles depending on the driving habits. With the SAE combo charger, DC Fast Charging is possible. This would allow the Spark EV to get an 80% charge after 20 minutes of charge time. Admittedly, 65 miles after a 20 minute charge isn’t too bad at all. Full charging can be completed in under seven hours with a 240V charger. A 120V charge cord comes standard.
So, why would I rave so much over an EV? It’s simple really. The Chevrolet Bolt has an expected 200 mile range, but is estimated to be $35,000. The Tesla Model 3 has its’ debut at the end of March, with a similar 200 mile range and estimated price.
At cars.com, a certified pre-owned Spark EV, can be had for under $15,000 with well under 10,000 miles of use. The previous owner took care of the depreciation for you. Well maintained cars with less than 10,000 miles can hint at the new-car smell.
It might even allow me to eventually purchase a cars and coffee car.
It’s doesn’t have to be just a great daily driver either. Slap on a set of sticky tires, find a way to stiffen and lower the suspension, and find your way to an autocross event. You’ll be the only person at the track with a stock hatchback, capable of 327-lb.ft. of torque. If the weight can be managed well by the driver, it should not be surprising to put up unusually quick times.
Overall, the electric car stigma does not have to exist. Technology is progressing rapidly. The Nissan Leaf helped bring the electric vehicle at a more affordable price. Tesla, helped bring the idea of luxury and supercar-like performance in the same price range as its’ competitors. The lightly-owned Chevrolet Spark EV can bring a bit of both, practicality, fun, and some performance, at daily driving prices.