The 2017 Chevrolet Spark Activ Is a Pug With a Spiked Collar

2017 Chevrolet Spark Activ
The 2017 Chevrolet Spark Activ takes crossover mania to an entirely different (and smaller) level | Nick Kurczewski/Autos Cheat Sheet

The 2017 Chevrolet Spark Activ answers a question that no one bothered to ask in the first place. What happens when you take a chirpy little car and heap crossover styling cues onto its petite shoulders?

Like naming a Pug dog “Killer,” or insisting a teacup pig will somehow keep burglars away, the Chevrolet Spark Activ arrives at the 2016 L.A. Auto Show yoked with a whole lot of attitude and a very limited amount of mass. This is, quite literally, one of the strangest cross-pollinations you’re going to see in the car world.

Starting with the standard front-wheel-drive Spark, Chevy has added black plastic body-cladding at either end and around each wheel, along with a new design of 15-inch alloy rim.

2017 Chevrolet Spark Activ
Despite the tough guy attempt, the Spark Activ remains FWD and has only 98 horsepower | Nick Kurczewski/Autos Cheat Sheet

A 0.4-inch bump in ride height should allow owners to traverse boulders the size of juvenile box turtles, or an errant Granny Smith in the parking lot of your nearest apple orchard. An underbody skid-plate and roof-rack complete the exterior changes.

Inside you’ll find leatherette seating and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. We know, our macho meters are running off the chart!

Despite the visual transformation, the powertrain remains untouched. Under the stubby hood is a 98-horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder that comes with your choice of five-speed manual or CVT automatic. Fuel economy is pretty much a wash between the two gearboxes, with the five-speed delivering 31 city/39 highway MPG and the CVT 30 city/39 highway. For a subcompact, we wish those mileage figures were a couple MPGs better.

2017 Chevrolet Spark Activ
We’re not sure who or what the Spark Activ targets. But at least it’s cheap, with a starting price of $16,995 | Nick Kurczewski/Autos Cheat Sheet

It would also have been clever for Chevy to offer some form of simple, lightweight AWD hardware in the Spark Activ. Former Subaru Justy fan-boys and anyone longing for a Fiat Panda 4×4, sorry, your dreams of a bare-bones snow-crawler are going to have to wait a little longer.

Arriving early next year, the Spark Activ will carry a base price of $16,995.