Yet another B-segment five-door hatch? You’d be correct, and it’s the third in this segment from Chev alone. To go with this new Sonic, Chev also has the Spark (entry level B) and the Aveo. Sonic fits in just above the Aveo, relying on its sportier looks and higher specced interior to grab your money.
From the front the Sonic really is a looker, the double-barrel headlight cluster fronting a very aggressive approach. It lends itself to aftermarket accessories and bumper kits. The side profile supports this attacking stance with a rising shoulder line. The rear is a bit of a disappointment as the aggressive lines make way for a circular shaped rear end that looks like a bloated Spark.
Two petrol derivatives of the Sonic will be available: a 1.4-litre and a 1.6-litre. The 1.4 delivers 74kW @ 6 000rpm with maximum torque of 130Nm @ 4 000rpm. The 1.6-litre adds an extra 11kW and 25Nm taking it up to 85kW @ 6 000 and 155Nm @ 4 000. The 1.4-litre we drove on launch was quite capable although it needs a fair amount of revving to keep it moving briskly. An uphill stretch of twisty road outside Simon’s Town meant the limiter was buzzed more than once to keep momentum. Both engines are relatively fuel efficient, although don’t stand out all that much when considering some of the competitors. The 1.4 uses around 5.8ℓ/100km on the combined cycle and the 1.6-litre drinks 6.5ℓ/100km.
The Sonic comes well equipped for the modern day hatch with a list of interior accessories such as CD/MP3/Aux input, electric windows and an onboard trip computer ensure that all life’s basic needs are taken care of. There is even an option for a comfort pack which, at a price, Chev will mount steering wheel controls, Bluetooth and a USB port to the spec sheet.
Despite the sporty and aggressive styling the Sonic’s suspension setup cannot be described as sporty. The soft spring setup makes for a comfortable ride with little intrusion from the road surface. Electric steering assistance in the Sonic results in a light wheel that makes parking a cinch.
The Sonic will be on sale from early December. The two models mentioned at launch will likely be joined by a small capacity turbodiesel and a four-door sedan some time in 2012. As for pricing, nothing has yet been confirmed but initial indication is that the 1.4 will sell for around R156 000 and the 1.6 for R170 000.
If you ask me that means it may find itself a little overpriced in a cluttered market that includes mass sellers such as the VW Polo and Ford Fiesta, not to mention Suzuki’s Swift.