Pictured above is the current iteration of the Chevrolet Spark, launched at last year's Manila International Auto Show. The previous generation's (the third, if you're keeping score at home) arrival here coincided with the dawn of other diminutive hatchbacks from its Japanese and Korean competitors, ushering in the small-car craze that persists to this day. This is a good thing, as it allowed those with smaller budgets to enter the wonderful world of car ownership.
Back then, the Spark emphasized the 'cute' nature of its stature, sporting a bulbous front paired to a boxy rear. A facelift followed a few years later, and while it certainly looked noticeably sharper than before, it still catered to the same entry-level crowd. This was likely Chevrolet's intention for the car from the get-go, but a more grown-up design would've appealed to a much wider audience.
When the all-new one was revealed last year, the first thing that struck us was how mature it looked. It isn't cute anymore. Now, it has a more athletic design, complemented by sharp and strong lines. The lights in the front and rear are now sleeker and more modern. With the contemporary look comes some features to boot: Bluetooth connectivity, electric power steering, and traction control. Pretty standard stuff by 2018 standards, but at this price (starts at P648,888), you get a solid package for a city car that offers everything you need.
Powering the all-new hatch is a 1.4-liter EcoTec mill with 98hp and 128Nm that accelerates with reasonable urgency on flat roads. Even with passengers onboard, hill climbs aren't much of an issue, and the CVT puts you in the right gear when you need it. Aside from a small dead zone in the center, the car's lively handling springs into action with every turn of the wheel.
The ride, meanwhile, can be stiff on harsh roads, but otherwise reasonably comfy despite the stiff seats. For its next tricks, we'd like to see Chevrolet expand the interior space a bit more. In this unit, we found ourselves rubbing elbows (and not in a good way) in the front seats. A tall order for a short car, yes, but one that would definitely complement the rest of its positives.