More of a microcar than a proper subcompact like the Honda Fit or Scion iA, the Spark seems ideal for city drivers or students on a budget. But the Spark gets only a few things right.

An elevated driving position makes you feel in command and lets you see parking spots from afar. The Spark’s steering is light—which works when darting through tight traffic—but can be disconcerting at highway speeds. Parking is a cinch, by virtue of a wee footprint and tight turning circle.

But the stiff, unyielding ride; engine drone; and lackluster acceleration make you feel shortchanged. The backseat barely fits a backpack. Given that the 33 mpg is no better than larger cars, and the $16,000 price isn’t exactly cheap, where’s the allure?

2016 Chevrolet Spark front

HIGHS: Easy to park, braking
LOWS: Acceleration, ride, noise, seat comfort, driving position
POWERTRAIN: 98-hp, 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine; continuously variable transmission; front-wheel drive
FUEL: 33 mpg
PRICE AS TESTED: $16,660

2016 Chevrolet Spark interior

One gesture to millennials: A standard touch-screen infotainment system enables Bluetooth pairing and steering wheel controls. Compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allows easy access to some apps, including navigation.

As for safety features, a rear camera is standard. Forward-collision warning is available on the top 2LT trim, but automatic emergency braking is surprisingly absent.

We recommend that you upgrade to a proper compact car rather than this pretender. Other inexpensive cars are quicker, quieter, roomier, and more sparing with fuel.

Read our complete Chevrolet Spark road test.

2016 Chevrolet Spark rear

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the September 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.