ROAD TEST: Holden Spark LT

ROAD TEST: Holden Spark LT

Holden used to sell a car here called the Barina Spark. It was pants.

Now Holden has dumped the awful Barina Spark in favour of the all-new Spark. Pay particular attention to that “all-new” part, as that is important – the old Barina Spark WAS pants, but the new just-Spark IS actually very good indeed…

Outside

Likes: Treads the fine line between being handsome and conservative and just being dull nicely, coming down on the good side of the equation. Looks good in any colour, but really suits the bright ones.

Dislikes: Looks like the old Barina, even though Holden have now dropped the “Barina” part of the Spark’s name.

Inside

Likes: Cheerful, airy and well put together interior. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto bring big car features to a tiny, affordable city car and are nicely integrated. Great driving position.

Dislikes: Lots of hard plastics. The white dash inserts are a bit cheesy. Seats could be more supportive.

Under the bonnet

Likes: Fantastic little 1.4-litre engine gives everything it’s got and remains refined while doing it. Continuously variable transmission is well served by the engine around town and makes for great driving.

Dislikes: But out on the open road it does get a bit droney. Spark also isn’t as economical as you would expect it to be, with some decidedly “bigger car” numbers showing up if you push it.

On the road

Likes: The Spark drives and feels like a car several sizes bigger. Fantastically responsive and – while we hate this word, it really is the best one to describe it – nippy. Brilliantly grown-up ride and fun handling.

Dislikes: Again, the CVT spoils the fun a bit…

Verdict

A thoroughly fantastic little car, the Spark has been collecting some big accolades for such a small car, and deservedly so.

The amount of equipment squeezed into such an affordable price is a credit to Holden and, with the Spark they have not just shifted the goal posts in the city car segment, they have moved them up into the next segment.

Interior space is impressive (although, unsurprisingly, boot space is tight), it is comfortable and very, very capable on the road and the engine is fantastic.

One downside, however, is the continuously variable transmission which, while actually rather good around town, lets the Spark down on the open road.

It’s also not quite as economical as you would expect from a car in this class, although it does have the biggest engine and most power in the segment by quite a long way, so maybe it should be expected.

Still, these two small niggles can be handily sidestepped by buying the cheapest Spark in the line up – the manual LS that costs $16,490 and still comes with the fantastic phone integration, cruise control, all the many safety features and a multi-function steering wheel.

For the extra$2,500 the LT gives you the CVT, synthetic leather seats, a backing camera with rear sensors, 15-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, power rear windows and fog lamps, which is a remarkably impressive amount of kit for the money. Which also sums the Spark up nicely, really.

  • Price: $19,990
  • Engine: 1.4-litre inline four-cylinder petrol
  • Power/torque: 73kW/128Nm
  • Transmission: CVT
  • 0-100km/h: n/a
  • Fuel consumption: 5.5L/100km
  • CO2 emissions: 166g/km

Click here for full specifications and more information on the Holden Spark

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