The Chevrolet Sonic RS is a hot hatchling with a big personality
Most of us like to stand out from the crowd. Just think about it: We personalise our phones, our hairstyles, our clothes… Some of us go to great lengths to achieve this, even in the workplace or at school (remember those days?), where standing out is difficult and usually discouraged.
Of course, few things can express our individuality more than the car that we drive. And modern manufacturing techniques are making it easier all the time for car producers to encourage this nonconformist streak in their potential customers.
If you’re young, you’re probably dreaming of owning a hot hatchback – one that’ll get you noticed. Enter the Chevrolet Sonic RS. (Then again, it will hopefully still appeal to you, even if you’re not quite so young but want to get places – in something compact and well priced.) The Sonic range is Chevy’s contender in the lower reaches of the B-segment. It includes hatchbacks and sedans, with a starting price just under the R200 000 mark for the LS hatch and a top end of around R230 000 for the RS.
The RS combines cheeky styling with a turbocharged 1.4l petrol engine. The rest of the package is configured to suit, so there are 17” alloys with low-profile tyres that fill the wheel arches, as well as a lowered stance. The result is a car with plenty of fizz. Response in the low gears is excellent and – if you give it its head all the way to sixth gear – it will reach a highly illegal 197 km/h. En route there, it will hit 100 km/h in just 9.5 seconds. So, despite its modest engine capacity, it can certainly hold its own.
There is 200 Nm of torque available, but that is restrained by traction- and stability-control systems, while the all-wheel discs have a full complement of electronic assistance to maximise their stopping efficiency. While the 205/50 tyres and stiffened suspension result in a firm ride, they also give the car a taut and direct feel – the kind of characteristic enthusiastic young drivers want.
The exterior detailing really makes the sporty Sonic stand out from the crowd. Note the more aggressive front bumper with slit-eyed fog lamps, side skirts and black side mirrors with their integrated LED indicators. At the rear, you’ll find a roof spoiler and rather eye-catching exhaust tip.
The attention to looking good as well as performing exceptionally continues on the inside, with all interfaces designed for maximum driver involvement. The front seats (available as a mixture of leather and ribbed suede inserts) have a cosseting feel, the leather-bound steering wheel has a fashionable flat-bottomed section and even the aluminium pedals are endowed with a contemporary touch. RS logos and an abundance of red stitching round off the sporty look.
But the most important feature, if you’re on the lookout for a car that will really help you express yourself, is the Sonic’s state-of-the-art Chevrolet MyLink system, which combines communication and infotainment functions into a single user-friendly package. Connect your cell phone via Bluetooth for full connectivity, or simply plug it into the USB slot to access your favourite playlist.
The seven-inch colour touchscreen provides added functionality (with some features only accessible when stationary, to ensure your safety) or use Siri voice control. This level of integration means more attention on the road – and more time to enjoy the driving experience.
There is a lot of fun packed into the 4m-long Sonic and – with an overall fuel consumption of just 6.6 l/100 km and a three-year / 60 000 km service plan – the fun police won’t be lying in wait to cramp your style.
CHEVROLET SONIC 1.4 RS
Engine 1 364 cc, turbocharged petrol
Cylinders four, in-line, transverse
Power 103 kW @ 6 000 rpm
Torque 200 Nm @ 4 000 rpm
Drivetrain six-speed manual, FWD
0–100 km/h 9.5 seconds
Top speed 197 km/h
Overall fuel consumption 6.6 l/100 km
CO² emissions 155 g/km
Driving aids ABS, EBD, TC/SC
Warranty five-year / 120 000 km
Service plan three-year / 60 000 km
Service intervals 12-month / 15 000 km
(This article was first published in the autumn 2015 issue of AA traveller magazine)