The Chevrolet Aveo RS concept, which debuted at the 2010 North American International Auto Show, was more than just a quick preview of the brand’s new subcompact offering. It was a salvo of sorts, suggesting the company focused on developing a small car that was potentially substantial and – of all things – somewhat sporty.
The finished product – the 2012 Sonic – certainly impresses on the former, but sportiness? That’s where new 2013 Sonic RS model, which Chevy reps describe as a “hotter” version, comes in.
Dressed The Part
From afar, the RS certainly looks a bit hotter than other Sonic models. Available only as a five-door hatchback, the RS boasts a number of unique design features, many of which – like the revised front and rear fascias; the thin, angular fog lamps; and the edgy rocker panels – are almost clones of those used on the Aveo RS concept. A unique grille insert, RS emblems, a larger rear spoiler, and unique five-spoke, 17-inch wheels also help set the RS apart from its brethren.
The boy-racer look continues within, thanks to the addition of a flat-bottom steering wheel, aluminum pedals, and a new shift knob for cars ordered with the six-speed manual transmission. Front sport seats, which provide larger lateral bolsters than stock Sonic buckets, are trimmed in leatherette and faux suede, and feature both embroidered and embossed RS emblems within their inserts.
Piano black trim is found on the dashboard and door panels, while red contrast stitching accents the front seats, shift boot, shift knob, and steering wheel. Chevrolet’s MyLink audio system, which provides Bluetooth phone connectivity, smartphone-based applications, and a touchscreen interface, is also included as standard equipment.
More Poise, But No More Power
If the cosmetic dress-up suggests the RS packs some additional power underhood, you may be in for a bit of a disappointment. A turbocharged 1.4-liter I-4 is standard equipment, but it’s no more powerful than the same engine offered as an option on Sonic LT and LTZ models. Despite utilizing a retuned exhaust system, output remains 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque.
That’s not to say the RS doesn’t incorporate any hardware designed to improve the driving experience. While the optional six-speed automatic is shared with other turbocharged Sonic models, the RS’ six-speed manual gearbox receives different gearing to inject some pep. Sonic RS models also gain unique suspension tuning, which bundles a lower ride height with stiffer springs and dampers. Chevy also saw fit to ditch the rear drum brakes, making the Sonic RS the only Sonic to utilize a four-wheel disc brake system.
That the Sonic RS may not be a direct competitor to the forthcoming Ford Fiesta ST – which is rumored to produce as much as 180 hp – may disappoint some, but it still exhibits promise. We’ve already discovered the Sonic is a solid, well-composed small car, and the hardware included as part of the RS package seem all the more promising.
Can Chevy deliver a sporty, fun-to-drive package that still appeals to the cost-conscious subcompact buyer? We’ll know soon enough, as the 2013 Sonic RS is expected to hit showrooms by the end of 2012.
On Sale: Late 2012
Base price: $19,000 (est)
Engine: 1.4-liter I-4
Power: 138 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 148 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Length: 159.0 in
Width: 68.3 in
Height: 59.7 in
Wheelbase: 99.4 in
Cargo capacity: 19.0/30.7 (rear seats up/folded)