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The Chevy Sonic, Ready to hit Baltimore, Maryland

Last updated 5 years ago

What is it?

The all-new Chevrolet Sonic, General Motors' entry in the B-class segment, is the first car to ride on the all-new Gamma, or Global Small Vehicle platform, variations of which you will soon see popping up in markets all over the world. The Sonic is on sale this October at Jerry’s Chevrolet in Baltimore.  The Sonic is not mechanically affiliated at all, with the product formerly known as the Chevy Aveo.

It comes as a sedan or a hatchback and with either a 138-hp 1.8-liter or 138-hp turbocharged 1.4-liter four driving the front wheels. Yes, they both make 138 hp. The normally aspirated 1.8 makes 125 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm and the turbo makes 148 lb-ft at 1,850 rpm, so the turbo's the one you want. The 1.8-liter comes with a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. The turbo comes standard with a six-speed manual but will get a six-speed automatic this spring.

What is it like to drive?

Early engineering drives in prototypes last May showed a promisingly fun little car. Turns out those analyses were pretty accurate. Engineers proudly pointed out the Sonic's higher torsional rigidity versus that of the Aveo. Greater use of high- and ultra-high-strength steel gave them a much better basis on which to build. The resonant frequency of the Sonic is 23 herz, an exponential improvement over the 18-herz carcass of the Aveo. Forged alloy wheels,  tuned bushings and an engine cradle bolted straight to the unibody helped keep the Sonic controlled. A quick 14:1 ratio for the electric power steering further helped.

Do I want it?

The Sonic starts at $14,995 including destination and 10--count 'em--10 airbags. A five-door turbo with a sunroof is about the most you can spend on one of these, and it's about $19,500. Chevy builds these in Lake Orion, Mich., too, unlike the competition, all of which, Chevy points out, are built outside the United States.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic

On Sale: Full U.S. launch in October

Base Price: $14,995

Drivetrain: 1.8-liter, 138-hp, 125-lb-ft normally aspirated I4; FWD, six-speed manual

Curb Weight: 2,721 lb sedan; 2,684 lb hatchback

0-60 MPH: 8.2 sec (mfr, turbo w/5-spd)

Fuel Economy (EPA): 25 mpg city, 35 mpg hwy

 

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