Chevrolet previewed the 2013 Sonic RS in January at the Detroit Auto Show, but the automaker now has a price tag to affix to its sportier subcompact model. According to General Motors, the 2013 Sonic RS starts at $20,995, which includes destination charges.
That price, which buys a Sonic RS with a 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4 and a six-speed manual, is roughly $2135 more expensive than a 2012 Sonic LTZ hatchback – the previous king of the Sonic hill – equipped with the same powertrain. Add the optional six-speed automatic to the Sonic RS, and its price tag jumps to $22,280.
That extra $2100 or so doesn’t add any power underhood – the turbocharged 1.4-liter is still rated at 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque – but it does mildly alter how the Sonic handles and looks. The ride height is lowered 10 mm, unique springs and dampers fitted, and the rear drum brakes eschewed in favor of discs. There's some advantage in sticking with the stick-shift, as the six-speed manual transmission gains new gear ratios in an attempt to quicken acceleration.
Cosmetically, Sonic RS models receive new front fascias with angular fog lamps, new grille inserts, and unique 17-inch, five-spoke aluminum wheels. The racy look continues within, as the car gains a flat-bottom steering wheel, aluminum pedals, and seats trimmed in both leatherette and faux suede. Buyers can pick from one of four exterior paint colors (Victory Red, Summit White, Cyber Gray, and Black Granite) , but won’t have much say inside: the Jet Black interior, highlighted with red accents, is unique to the Sonic RS model.
Do all these changes add a spark to the Sonic’s step? Somewhat. As we reported in our First Drive review, we’re not ready to call the RS a hot hatch, but a somewhat more enjoyable Sonic. The revised gear ratios help extract the 1.4-liter’s full potential, and the revised electric power steering feels heavier and more direct than before. The new suspension tuning helps the car feel more agile in tight corners, but doesn’t do much to tame body roll.
Still, for buyers wanting a sportier Sonic, the 2013 Sonic RS rolls into Chevy showrooms nationwide this fall, as production begins at GM’s Orion Township, Michigan, facility in October.