First Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic

Never say General Motors can't think outside of the box. As its Detroit rivals tout their European-engineered, Mexican-built subcompacts, GM is replacing the aging Aveo with a Korean-German-American confection called the Sonic, to be produced for our market in Orion Township, Michigan. What's more, Chevy thinks it will be the enthusiasts' choice in the segment, and has brought us to an autocross outside of Indianapolis -- with some competitors in tow -- to prove it.

Heavy Chevy
Among the many qualities the outgoing Aveo was not known for, confident handling might top the list. It thus comes as no surprise that GM dumped the wet Kimchi-noodle Daewoo platform in favor of a new architecture woven from a few Opel Corsa DNA strands. High-strength steel makes up 60 percent of the new car's structure -- roughly the same percentage Ford quotes for the Fiesta. North American models have additional bracing at each corner. All this structural integrity comes at a (literally) heavy price, as the Sonic weighs in at some 2800 pounds, a good 300-pounds more than most entries in the segment. Sonic lead engineer Joaquin Nuno-Whelan also attributes the ballast to a relatively large footprint (about 1.5-inches bigger than the Fiesta in both wheelbase and track) and a class-leading ten standard airbags.

Regardless, no one's going to be picking on this fat kid: the Sonic employs the same four-cylinder engine lineup as the even larger and heavier Chevrolet Cruze. With either the 138-hp 1.8-liter base engine or the 1.4-liter turbo, rated at a provisional 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, the Sonic handily outguns most competitors. Chevy expects the turbo to achieve the all-important 40-mpg benchmark when paired to a six-speed manual transmission, which it always will be, since the 1.4-liter Sonic can't be had with an automatic [UPDATE: Chevrolet says it will offer a six-speed automatic with this engine beginning early next year]. The 1.8-liter comes with either a five-speed stick or six-speed automatic.

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Robert Ballinger
After totaling my car in Sept, I rented this car in the hatchback.  I loved this car and have recommended this to my friends in the market to buy a new car.  Minus:  Rattling noise under the hood at higher speeds.
First Drive: 2012 Chevrolet SonicJanuary 01, 1900 / By David ZenleaWow....Was that date a typo ?i love the trend for most mini and small autos to offer accessories found in the larger versions.
Buick will have the Opel astra and I hope they add the Corsa. In additiion in Australia they have the Holden Astra uitlity(pickup), with advertised starting price of 19,000 au dollars.Buick needs this utility and not a truck for families needing part time uitility needs.Start a new fuel saving line of utility (pickup) in the USA
ok it is alittle heavy chevyso to counter that weight just add alittle more grunt to the engine it is turbo'ed up the boost 148hp/158lb-ftthat should help! thats an easy fix if they would do it!
An update: Chevy says that though the 1.4-liter turbo will launch solely with the six-speed manual, an automatic will be added early in 2012.
Wow. Beyond ugly. What is with the giant grille and headlights? They only serve to make the car look smaller. There is no balance or grace to this design. If I had to drive a sub compact, I would choose the Hyundai Accent, Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2, Toyota Yaris, or Honda Fit. Basically anything other than this ugly duckling.
How could you give this thing a chance? It's too heavy and probably will be overpriced. From this short article about a pre-production drive on a short autocross, I have little hope for this piece of shit. How is this going to be as good as a Fit, Mazda 2, etc??
Wow Daye, That some remarkable insight into something you couldn't possibly know yet. If you don't plan on giving it a chance, just say so.
The Sonic may be a vast improvement over the Aveo, but it is not as well- equipped or engineered as the new Hyundai Accent and it doesn't look as good as either the Accent or the Fiesta.

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