• Jan 10th 2011 at 12:01AM
  • 109
2012 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback – Click above for high-res image gallery

General Motors has officially yanked back the sheets on the newest sub-compact from Chevrolet, the 2012 Sonic. Just don't call it the Aveo. The five-door hatch and four-door sedan are set to be officially unveiled later today at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, but the Bow Tie brand has been kind enough to share the skinny on this vehicle that's supposed to tango with the likes of the new Hyundai Elantra and the Ford Fiesta. The Sonic will be available with a standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, though buyers can opt up for a turbocharged 1.4-liter producing 138 horsepower, which GM underscores is 18 ponies more than the Fiesta. Shifting duties are handled by either a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic gearbox.

In fact, it's clear that The General had its sights locked on the Fiesta from the get go. The Sonic hatchback packs more back seat room than its Blue Oval competitor and, with the rear bench folded flat, delivers more cargo room, as well.

GM also put plenty of effort into the suspension by tasking the geometry gurus responsible for the Corvette's mighty grip. Up front, the Sonic benefits from a MacPherson strut design, while a torsion beam handles suspension duties out back.

There's also plenty design-wise to differentiate the Sonic from its homely predecessor, including a more aggressive front fascia with massive headlight arrays. Judging from the photos, the biggest changes are indoors, where a stylish cockpit replaces the bland, bargain plastics of the Aveo. Stay tuned for live photos from the show floor of the 2011 Detroit Auto Show and hit the jump for the full press release.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic Sedan
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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback
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[Source: General Motors]
Show full PR text

* Small car with aggressive, youthful design in five-door and sedan models
* Available Ecotec 1.4L turbo with an estimated 138 hp (103 kW)
* Engineered for agile, athletic ride and handling
* Smart connectivity features including MyChevrolet smart phone app
* Only small car built in America

DETROIT – Chevrolet displayed the all-new 2012 Sonic at the North American International Auto Show. Its youthful, aggressive 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 stylish four-door sedan and a sporty five-door. Each delivers class-leading rear-seat roominess and cargo space. A variety of connectivity features enhance the driving experience.

"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 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 Center 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 138 horsepower (103 kW) – 18 horsepower (14 kW) 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 Corvette engineers; standard electronic power steering and StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover sensing
* Sedan model offers segment-best trunk 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, 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 fender flares and motorcycle-inspired round headlamps, are blended with global design cues – a dual-element grille and round taillamps – for a design instantly recognizable as Chevrolet. The leading edge of the hood forms a character line above the headlamps, which flows in a sleek side profile characterized 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 taillamps.

Details that reinforce Sonic's quality and attention to detail include chrome grille surrounds and matte black honeycomb grille inserts on all models, while a range of large wheel sizes, including 17-inch alloy wheels, reinforces its sporty demeanor.

Inspired interior
Sonic's cabin complements the motorcycle-inspired exterior with a detailed instrument cluster featuring a large, round analog tachometer set within an asymmetrical LCD readout, with a large digital speedometer display.

Additional interior highlights include:
* The mid-instrument panel surface is available in two colors (dark titanium and brick) and flows seamlessly into the upper doors, with premium low-glass finishes
* The automatic shift knob has a "cobra head" design," while the manual shifter has a chrome-finished knob
* Tubular outboard climate outlets protrude from the instrument panel surface.

The interior includes storage compartments in the center stack and doors. The rear seats fold flat for carrying larger items. Front bucket seats are standard and heated front seats are available.

Cruze-based powertrains
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 138 horsepower (103 kW) and 148 lb.-ft. of torque (200 Nm) 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. Premium design elements give the engine world-class 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 pressurized 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 percent of peak torque to be available from 2,400 rpm to 6,500 rpm. It is estimated at 135 horsepower (101 kW), along with 123 lb.-ft. of torque (167 Nm) 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 the Corvette tuned the Sonic's confident ride and handling, giving it a more direct and athletic feel, 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 stabilizer 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 59.4 inches (1,509 mm), for well-planted stability and excellent 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 system.

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 harshness.

A range of wheel sizes is available, including 17-inch wheels and sport tires. Power-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes are standard; a four-channel ABS system is available. 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.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
        • 4 Years Ago
        I really like it, but I think it looks too much like the Aveo for a name change. At least they picked a good name.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's not that the headlights are bad per se, it's that they are out of proportion with the size of the front of the car. These are like full size sedan headlights on a sub compact. I think that's why it's a polarizing issue for some folks. I think if they were shorter (in height) the front end would be pretty appealing.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @MechE: I have to admit it - I actually like the way the current Aveo looks. There I said it. Please, be gentle. :)

        I kind of like this, overall. I think it would look better if they moved the bowtie to the the middle of the upper grille, to move the focus there. I really should move to one of the cars in this segment (or the Cruze), as that's one of the few places where affordable (
        • 4 Years Ago
        Eh, the headlights are fine.

        Wonder if GM will make a 2+2 coupe out of this.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Elantra competes with the Cruze not this Autoblog.
        • 4 Years Ago
        To me the exterior doesnt look much more different than the current Aveo, the interior looks great though. Nothing wrong with beam axle, especially not in this segment. I think the 1.4 turbo suits this car size much more than the Cruze, even though it seems to work 1.4T in a car the size of the Cruze just seems too small for an upgraded model.
        • 4 Years Ago

        You mention torsion-beam and electric power steering in negative light and I'm not sure why.

        Pretty much every vehicle now will be equipped with electric power steering (EPS) particularly because CAFE standards and the added benefit of less parasitic loads with this system. It's no surprise then that the Sonic would be equipped with it. EPS systems are also developing at an exponential rate and are not sub-par in terms of feel and response any longer and all you have to do is drive a 2011 BMW 3-series or 5-series to be convinced.

        As far as a twist beam - is there any vehicle in this category that doesn't have a twist beam in the rear? The Focus and the Mazda 2 which appear to be leading the fun-to-drive category have a rear twist beam.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I like the front, its the rear thats embarrassing. Its like they got halfway through redesigning the Aveo and said "eh, thats good enough"

        The hatchback is way less mismatched.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Amen. The front is too big for the rest of the car.

        BTW: How does this compete with the Elantra? Isn't that a class above this car? Don't you mean Accent?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I have to say, I am absolutely loving the looks of that hatch, at least with the top-line 17" alloys. I think people's perception of its styling will be different when they see it in person. Scale can really affect aesthetics, and this is a small car, so the exaggerated headlight and grille treatment won't look so massive and blobby in person.

        That gauge cluster is a home run, too. The interior looks to be on par with the Fiesta's.

        I'm less optomistic about the driving experience. "Corvette-inspired" suspension aside, it's still got a torsion-beam axle in back, electric power steering, and standard rear drums. Good tuning can make all of those parts feel great, but Chevy took a "refined-but-dull" approach to the Cruze, so one suspects the Sonic is in the same vein.

        I've also got to wonder about the wisdom of using the same engines as the Cruze. The road tests I've read indicate that the automatic 1.8-liter Cruze gets 22/35 MPG and does 0-60 in about 11 seconds; the turbo 1.4 does 24/36 MPG and 9 to 60. Unless the Sonic is *way* lighter, it may be no faster and appreciably thirstier than the Fit, Fiesta, and Mazda2.

        Still, looks great and actually made in the US this time. I bet it'll sell heaps.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Dude, headlights look fine!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Uh, details, that is...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Est MPG ??
      E-assist ?

      • 4 Years Ago
      I love this design! It's cute, yet bold. The simple lines work really well for this car and offer a great alternative to those to may be put off by the overly swoopy lines of the Fiesta.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I mean cheap in quality of materials, not in price.

      If they can keep this a not-cheap car (think Cavalier) I can see this doing well in its own right. It won't be a volume model like the Malibu/Impala (in the US at least), but with respectable goals, I can see this hitting them.

      The front end could use a slight touch-up (broaden the grills), and I'd REALLY like to see a coupe (I know it isn't going to happen in the US), but even as a hatchback with a stubby front end, if someone gave this to me, I wouldn't turn it away.
        • 4 Years Ago
        My motorcycle has a better dash (well, actually it has a fantastic dash). I wouldn't want THIS on my motorcycle though. Even motorcycles have gotten away from this look.
        • 4 Years Ago
        And I definitely wouldn't mind seeing that gauge "cluster" move to more vehicles. That is so cool looking.

        I'm ready for some concept car stuff to start moving into production.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not bad but...
      For a small car, the a pillar forward looks way too busy.
      The hood looks like a cheap mans BMW 5 series

      The greehouse/c-pillar looks like a copy from the Lancer

      The headlights are a disappointment.
      The housing looks like its from an old Hyundai Elantra.
      All I see is 4 perfect circles with black backing staring back at you.
      Chevy needs to give on the corporate face.
      The split grill with the Bow Tie ON THE BUMPER just isnt working.

      Whats with the instrument panel? Some kid attached his little video
      game on it.
      Whats going on with the big empty spaces next to vents?
      Looks like someone wanted vertical vents, then they changed their mind!
      I mean come on!!

      Hard to believe GMs been making cars for over a 100 years.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Would you like GM to continue to produce the mediocre Cavalier or this thing? Id rather see this Sonic car driving on the roads! The Cavalier was an eye sore!
      • 4 Years Ago
      The name is just terrible for this car. Considering its color, I would call it Shadow. And then the orange one... Huh, I suppose Tails.

      Yes, I recycled that joke again.

      In all seriousness, the fine detailing on this car is quite cool. The dash looks futuristic and bold compared to the stuff you find in other cars. I dig the speedometer's "gear" look, the rest of it looks clean and attractive enough, and the rest of styling works pretty well. I also like the air conditioner vents, styled like wind turbines. Nicely trimmed and actually pretty sexy.

      I'm going to go one step further, too. I hope this car sells like hotcakes. The more cars GM sells, the more the U.S. taxpayers make back on their loan payment. Here's to GM selling enough of these things to pay us back with interest and then some.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think this is a GREAT looking small car.

      Exterior looks pretty good, with very nice proportions, and I am shocked to admit that I think I like the sedan version better than the hatch (one of the only times I have ever said that).

      The interior, especially on the higher-level models with contrasting colors, looks fantastic. That instrument cluster doesn't just look great for a small car, but rather, it looks great for any type of car.

      Let's be honest here, I think everyone though that Fiesta was going to wipe the floor with this Sonic. Honestly though, I think unless there are major quality/cheapo-material issues, I think this car could holds its own against the Fiesta or any other car in the segment. Visually the Fiesta is "sexier" looking, at least on the outside. On the inside, I think they both look great, but I prefer the slightly cleaner, but just as modern look of the Sonic. Also the Fiesta is supposed to have a very tight backseat, so if this Sonic offers more interior room, they both could be big sellers to different demographics.

      Note to Honda:
      this is how you make an interior (especially that instrument cluster) look modern, without making it look like it belongs on a spaceship.
      • 4 Years Ago
      How come the front remind me of this car


      Just slightly different headlight and grill/bumper.

      I still love Ford design better than this. Its okay but somehow looks kinda awkward for me. I guess everyone have their own taste
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yup, that first pic actually reminds me of a squashed Misubishi Lancer.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I liked the sedan until I saw the rear. Droopy much? Hatch is still nice. The interior is "Cruze light" but I'm guessing there are no soft plastics there. Not saying I can tell from looking but its Chevy's MO lately and this will be their cheapest car. If they can't put soft plastics in the Camaro, they won't put them in this.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Did you mean Hyundai Accent? The Avante / Elantra compete with Chevy Cruze.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looks good as a sedan, actually. I like it in gray.
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