Chevrolet Sonic revealed
10th January, 2011
- Small car in five-door and sedan models
- Available Ecotec 1.4L turbo with an estimated 103 kW (138 hp)
- Only 'light' car built in America
Chevrolet will display the 2012 Sonic at the Detroit Motor Show. Its design is backed by turbocharged
performance and agile ride and handling, combining to deliver an efficient, fun-to-drive small car.
The Sonic is offered in two body styles: a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback. Each delivers
class-leading rear-seat roominess and cargo space. A variety of connectivity features enhance the driving
“The all-new Chevrolet Sonic blends the practicality of a small car with the passion for driving
that Chevrolet vehicles like the Corvette are known for,” said a wildly
optimistic Chris Perry, vice
president of Chevrolet marketing. “Its combination of great design, fun driving experience and the
latest connectivity features create a serious competitor with a fun spirit.”
Production of the Sonic begins later in 2011 at the General Motors Orion Assembly Centre in Michigan,
which received a $545-million investment in upgrades and retooling, and will help restore approximately
1,000 jobs in the metropolitan Detroit area.
“Chevrolet is the only company building a small car in the United States,” said Perry. “We
believe the Sonic will bring substance to the segment, with progressive styling, performance and value
that will change perceptions of what a small car can be in America.”
Sonic’s highlights include:
- Available efficient Ecotec 1.4L turbo engine rated at an estimated 103 kW (138 horsepower) – 14 kW
(18 horsepower) more than Ford Fiesta – that delivers competitive fuel economy. It’s the same engine
used in the Chevrolet Cruze in a smaller, lighter package for a greater feeling of performance
- Standard Ecotec 1.8L engine paired with five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions
- Ecotec 1.4L turbo available with a six-speed manual transmission
- Ride and handling tuned by Chevy engineers; standard electronic power steering and StabiliTrak
electronic stability control with roll-over sensing
- Sedan model offers segment-best boot capacity that is greater than most compact cars; hatchback and
sedan offer better rear-seat roominess than Ford Fiesta. With a rear seat that folds nearly flat, the
Sonic hatchback has greater cargo capacity than Fiesta
- Connectivity includes OnStar with six months of Turn-by-Turn navigation. Available features include
XM Satellite Radio, USB and Bluetooth functionality and MyChevrolet mobile application with OnStar
MyLink vehicle connectivity
- Remote start, heated front seats and sunroof, all rarities in the segment
- Comprehensive safety features include 10 standard air bags, antilock brakes, electronic brake force
distribution, brake assist and OnStar with Automatic Crash Response.
Progressive exterior design
From every angle, Sonic sedan and five-door models convey strength, stability and refinement. A
wide, planted stance, with wheels-at-the-corners proportions, conveys performance. Progressive, raked
body lines suggest movement even when the car is stationary.
Aggressive cues, including mudguard flares and motorcycle-inspired round headlamps, are blended with
global design cues – a dual-element grille and round tail lamps – for a design instantly recognisable as
Chevrolet. The leading edge of the bonnet forms a character line above the headlamps, which flows in a
sleek side profile characterised by uninterrupted body side lines, a high beltline and low roofline. The
side mirrors carry the same shape as the car and seemingly disappear into the profile.
The sedan and five-door models are distinctively different. The five-door carries a tight, two-box
shape with aggressive, diving feature lines, while the sedan’s “notchback” profile has a more upscale
and mature presence. At first glance, the five-door model looks like a three-door hatch because the rear
door handles are discreetly located in the “C”-pillar area. The rear of the five-door continues with
unconventional details, including exposed, motorcycle-inspired rear tail lamps.
Details that reinforce Sonic’s quality and attention to detail include chrome grille surrounds and
matt black honeycomb grille inserts on all models, while a range of large wheel sizes, including 17-inch
alloy wheels, reinforces its sporty demeanour.
Sonic’s cabin complements the motorcycle-inspired exterior with a detailed instrument cluster featuring
a large, round analogue tachometer set within an asymmetrical LCD readout, with a large digital speedometer
Additional interior highlights include:
- The mid-instrument panel surface is available in two colours (dark titanium and brick) and flows
seamlessly into the upper doors
- The automatic shift knob has a “cobra head” design,” while the manual shifter has a chrome-finished
- Tubular outboard climate outlets protrude from the instrument panel surface.
The interior includes storage compartments in the centre stack and doors. The rear seats fold flat for
carrying larger items. Front bucket seats are standard and heated front seats are optional.
Chevrolet Sonic models are powered by efficient, power-dense, small-displacement engines, including
the Ecotec 1.4L turbo and the Ecotec 1.8L – the same engines used in the new Chevrolet Cruze. Three
transmissions are available: a five-speed manual and six-speed automatic with the 1.8L and a six-speed
manual with the 1.4L turbo.
The Ecotec 1.4L turbo’s power ratings are estimated at 103 kW (138 horsepower) and 200 Nm (148 lb.-ft.)
of torque between 1,850 rpm and 4,900 rpm. The wide rpm range for the maximum torque – a specific trait of
turbocharged engines – helps the engine deliver a better driving experience and performance. Design
elements give the engine smoothness and durability. Features include:
- Low-mass hollow-frame cast iron block
- Dual overhead camshafts with variable valve timing
- Chain-driven cams
- Roller-finger camshaft followers
- Piston-cooling oil jets and integrated oil cooler
- Variable-flow oil pump
- Electronically controlled thermostat.
The 1.4L’s turbocharger is integrated within the exhaust manifold, for reduced weight and greater
packaging flexibility in small vehicles. A reinforced crankshaft and stronger connecting rods deliver
additional strength to support the engine’s pressurised power and torque over a wide rpm band.
The naturally aspirated Ecotec 1.8L engine has many of the same features of the Ecotec 1.4L turbo. It
is a compact and durable four-cylinder engine designed for low maintenance, low emissions and fuel
efficiency. Its two-stage variable intake manifold allows approximately 90 per cent of peak torque to be
available from 2,400 rpm to 6,500 rpm. It is estimated at 101 kW (135 horsepower), along with 167 Nm
(123 lb.-ft.) of torque at 3,800 rpm.
Engineered for agile, athletic ride and handling
The Sonic brings agility and a fun-to-drive feel that is rare in the segment. Engineers who also
work on other Chevys tuned the Sonic’s ride and handling, while balancing the vehicle for the broad
range of driving conditions in North America.
All models feature a MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and stabiliser bar, and a
semi-independent, torsion beam axle-mount compound link-type rear suspension – featuring a robust,
tubular V-shape beam – with gas-charged shocks. The front and rear tracks are identical at 1,509 mm
(59.4 inches), for stability and balance.
Electronic power steering is standard and features a wear compensator that continually adjusts the
system interaction with the steering gear to ensure precise steering action over the life of the
Sonic’s body structure is designed to be one of the stiffest in the segment. Its rigidity enabled
engineers to tune the ride and handling more precisely. Sonic’s unique “flat top frame” cradle, for
example, assures optimal stiffness in the front chassis portion of the vehicle. The rear axle is
essentially a straight axle without contour for packaging restraints and reduced noise, vibration and
A range of wheel sizes is available, including 17-inch wheels and sport tyres. Power-assisted front
disc and rear drum brakes are standard (yes, that was drum brakes for the rear - perhaps as recognition
of the way 'things' used to be when cars were more primitive) along with a four-channel antilock
braking system. The four-sensor system – one at each wheel – incorporates electronic brake force
distribution, which balances braking performance based on such factors as road conditions and the
weight of passengers and/or cargo.