The paper reports an activity aiming at characterizing cycle-to-cycle variability (CCV) of the spark-ignition (SI) process in a high performance engine. The numerical simulation of spark-ignition and of early flame kernel evolution are major challenges, mainly due to the time scales of the spark discharge process and to the reduced spatial scales of flame kernel. Typical mesh resolutions are insufficient to resolve the process and a dedicated treatment has to be provided at a subgrid level if the ignition process is to be properly modelled. The focus of this work is on the recent ISSIM-LES (Imposed Stretch Spark-Ignition Model) ignition model, which is based on an extension of the flame surface density (FSD) transport equation for a dedicated flame kernel treatment at subgrid scales. The FSD equation is solved immediately after spark discharge. The interaction of the flame kernel with the flow field is fully accounted for since spark formation and a transition is provided from ignition to propagation phase. The comparison is carried out with the AKTIM-Euler ignition model in terms of flame interaction with the flow field (e.g. arc convection, flame blow-off, flame holder effect). A multiple cycle LES activity provided a set of cycle-resolved conditions for spark-ignition comparisons, and the flame kernel development is carefully analyzed for the two ignition models on a wide range of thermo-physical conditions. Spark-ignition cyclic variability and combustion traces are compared with experiments. Results confirm that the simulated cycle-to-cycle variability increases through the adoption of the ISSIM-LES ignition model.