Sparking Your Interest, Mirror Images

2013-04-17T00:00:00Z Sparking Your Interest, Mirror ImagesSteering You Right With Sharon Peters By Sharon Peters CTW Features nwitimes.com

Question:

What are you hearing about Chevy’s new teeny electric Spark? I saw one on the street the other day (didn’t even know they existed until then), and although I’ve been reluctant to buy any of the tiny cars up until now, I have to say this one interested me for some reason and might be in the running for my daughter’s graduation gift.

Answer:

First, know this: What you saw is not an electric car (though its snubby nose and rounded shape makes it look as though it should be an electric car). It’s a gas-powered subcompact that gets 37 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in town for the automatic (and slightly better for the manual).

As for what’s being said about the fun-looking mini-mobile: Kelley Blue Book says it can get a little “jittery” at highway speeds, so those who have long highway commutes will probably want to seek out a somewhat larger vehicle. It’s “quick and nimble” but also “loud and buzzy” like a motorcycle, KBB proclaimed. Road & Track, on the other hand, said it is “remarkably composed and quiet” and declared it “stylish” and a “solid bargain.”

Base prices start at about $13,000.

By the way: if you’re really hankering for an electric version and you’re a West Coaster, the Spark EV is slated to be sold in California and Oregon later this year.

Question:

Why does the right outside mirror show the vehicle to your right as being further back than it really is?

Answer:

The passenger side mirror is convex (unlike the driver-side mirror, which is planar).

The need for the passenger side window to be convex is this: It would not be possible to use a planar mirror on that side because, given the distance and angle from the driver, it would have to be huge in order to provide a reasonable range of vision.

The convex mirror acts to compress the images (in much the same way you see images when you stare into the back of a spoon). This plays tricks on our depth perception, since we associate smaller objects with greater distance. Hence the warning “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear” that is engraved on all such mirrors.

© CTW Features

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