We got our first look at the Chevrolet Sonic RS in the flesh today, unveiled alongside two Chevy concepts – the Tru 140S Concept and Code 130R Concept – at the 2012 Detroit auto show. As much as we've liked the Sonic, this version looks to hit the enthusiast bull's-eye.

While GM didn't offer any more details about the car than what we already knew, we did get to see the upgraded interior, and it looks great. The special RS sport seats, thicker sport steering wheel, aluminum pedals and the MyLink infotainment system give this version of the Sonic a distinct personality, and we're hoping the four-wheel discs, stiffer suspension and retuned (read: louder) exhaust seal the deal.

The Sonic RS also wears a slightly different front fascia with a new grille and fog lamps, but the change in appearance isn't all that drastic, as the base Sonic is already pretty aggressive. Other exterior kit that's exclusive to the RS includes a new spoiler and rocker moldings, a chrome exhaust tip, and a new five-spoke wheel design (though the wheels are still 17-inchers).

While there's no power upgrade in the RS, we've found that the 1.4-liter, 138-horsepower turbo makes for a lot of fun when paired with the six-speed manual. An automatic will also be available, and Chevy says both transmissions will have different gearing in the RS, which should turn the fun dial up another notch.

Of course there's always the possibility that Chevy could really turn up the wick, drop a turbo 2.0-liter Ecotec under the hood and slap an SS badge on the hatch. Maybe at next year's Detroit show. Click past the jump to read the full release.
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Turbocharged 2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS Pushes Performance
Unique exterior and interior styling, sport-tuned suspension and standard MyLink

DETROIT – A hotter Chevrolet Sonic is about to sound off – the 2013 Sonic RS. It goes on sale in late 2012, after making its public debut at the North American International Auto Show Jan. 14-22.

The new RS amplifies the Sonic's youthful style and driving experience with unique exterior and interior features matched with a 138-horsepower (103 kW) Ecotec 1.4L turbo engine. Sonic is the only vehicle in its segment to offer a turbocharged powertrain.

"The new Chevrolet Sonic RS pushes Chevrolet's performance heritage in a new direction, for a new generation of drivers," said Chris Perry, vice president of Global Chevrolet Marketing. "It takes the Sonic's great design and latest connectivity features and combines them with a more performance-oriented look and feel."

The Sonic RS is offered exclusively in the five-door body style. Chevrolet's exclusive MyLink infotainment system is standard. It enables navigation directions downloaded through a smart phone to be shown on the radio's large display, and offers the personalized connectivity of Pandora and Stitcher Internet radio.

Sonic RS exterior features
  • New front fascia with new fog lamp design
  • New RS-specific grille
  • New rear fascia
  • New rear spoiler
  • New rocker moldings
  • Unique mirror cap finish
  • Retuned sport exhaust with chrome outlet
  • Unique 17-inch five-spoke wheel design
  • Lowered and stiffened suspension with performance-tuned dampers
  • RS badging.

The more-aggressive look of the Sonic RS is inspired by the concept that debuted in Detroit in 2010. The Sonic RS will be available in Victory Red, Summit White, Cyber Gray Metallic and Black Granite Metallic, which is a new exterior color for the 2013 Sonic.

"The Sonic RS remains true to the progressive spirit of the concept and brings an unmistakable attitude to the segment," said John Mack, design director for the Sonic. "From every angle and every touch point, it is a car that is unabashed in its performance statement – and one that drives Chevrolet's performance legacy into its second century."

One of the most-dramatic cues from the concept carried into the production model is the Sonic RS's front fascia, which has a deep air dam design that enhances the car's road-hugging stance. Vertical intakes at the edges of the fascia reinforce the wide, low proportion and house the fog lamps.

Sonic RS interior features
  • New front sport seats
  • New sport steering wheel with thicker rim and racing-inspired flat-bottom design
  • New shifter knob (manual transmission)
  • New aluminum sport pedals
  • Specific instrument panel cluster graphics
  • RS-specific interior trim color for the instrument panel and door trim inserts.

"Like the exterior, the Sonic RS's interior looks and feels the part of a true performance car," said Mack. "The seats are firm and provide great lateral support during quick cornering and the feel of the thick, flat-bottom steering wheel is a feature driving enthusiasts will truly appreciate."

The Sonic RS's interior is a connected environment, with the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment seven-inch color touch screen radio. This system allows customers to bring customized music libraries into the vehicle and use their smart phones and Bluetooth connectivity to access Pandora and Stitcher Internet radio and navigation. Navigation directions downloaded through a smart phone can be displayed on the screen and, when the vehicle is stopped, users can project video and even personal photo albums onto the screen from their phone.

Sonic RS performance

The Sonic RS is powered by a standard Ecotec 1.4L turbo engine that is rated at 138 horsepower (103 kW) and 148 lb.-ft. of torque (200 Nm) – and provides an immediate feeling of power that is sustained across the rpm band, for a greater feeling of performance at lower rpm. It's matched with a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic.

Unique gear ratios for the six-speed manual transmission and unique final drive ratio for the automatic give the Sonic RS a sportier feel than non-RS models.

Complementing the segment-exclusive turbocharged powertrain is 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 balance.

The new RS is the only Sonic model offered with four-wheel disc brakes, which are partnered with a four-channel anti-lock 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.

Electric 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 lineup at a glance

The Chevrolet Sonic is offered in two body styles: a four-door sedan and a five-door, with a starting price of $14,495 (including destination charge). Each body style delivers class-leading, rear-seat roominess and cargo space. Vehicle highlights include:

Standard Ecotec 1.8L engine (non-RS models) paired with five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions

Standard electric power steering and StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover sensing
Sedan offers 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
Remote start, heated front seats and sunroof – all rarities in the segment

Ten standard air bags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and OnStar with Automatic Crash Response.

Sonic is built at the General Motors' Orion Assembly Center in Michigan, which received a $545-million investment in upgrades and retooling and helped restore approximately 1,000 jobs in the metropolitan Detroit area.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Greg Johnson
      • 3 Years Ago
      People need to learn that the Sonic was made to be a good looking fuel economy car that offers 40mpg...If you add more power to it, it will just kill fuel economy and it will not compete with other cars in its class...The RS is simply putting all of the visual toys in it you can as for. If your looking at a Sonic to be a 14 second car then your all kidding yourself..Go drive a 350Z, 5.0 Mustang, Camero SS, Oh wait, they are 30+ thousand dollar cars with horrible gas milage that you will have to put 93 Octane in to support that kind of power....My car before my Sonic LT 1.4T was a 380whp SRT-4 and I will never go back to a car like that again. I enjoy how the Sonic looks great and offers the MOST power in its CLASS of cars and is just awesome to drive. Chevy did a great job with it.
        Michael Creech
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Greg Johnson
        Just FYI Greg a 1.4T sonic has run a 14.4 sec quarter mile don't slouch on your car, go to the chevy sonic owners forum and look at stratton's build. This engine and car have alot of potential. Glad you're enjoying your sonic too!
      • 3 Years Ago
      I must admit, it DID strike me as a ridiculous title on the post. Can't imagine what "enthusiasts" Jeff has spoken to to get that idea.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Isn't the Fiesta ST going to have like 160hp + ? 138hp isn't going to cut it with the competition is going further up the poll.
      • 3 Years Ago
      why dont they keep this and make a sonic SS with a 2.0T that makes at least 200 (perferably >225), or just put the engine from the turbo cobalt SS and call it the sonis SS. And another thing why wont Chevy make a SS of this (ex. sonic RS, sonicBOOM, sonic Z-spec) this is CHEVY damnit they have been making minor upgrades, slapping a SS badge, and upping the price for like 50 years. Why stop now?
      • 3 Years Ago
      A sub 1.5 liter hot hatch battle is in the works!! We have the Sonic RS, the Abarth 500 (160 hp 1.4l turbo) and what else coming? A hotter Mazda 3? A hotter Fiesta? I propose the scca or some other organization set up a racing series with all of these cars.
      Shane Gardner
      • 3 Years Ago
      Still no blue...
        Mike Buenting
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Shane Gardner
        Preach on brother! Theres not yellow either---I think some shade of green might work too. GM colours suck on the whole.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ill take a fiesta ST instead
      • 3 Years Ago
      The hot hatch we've been waiting for... with 138hp? Um... Focus RS a hot hatch? Yes. Mazdaspeed 3 a hot hatch? Yes. Volkswagen GTI a hot hatch? Yes. WRX a hot hatch? Yes. 1.4L 138hp Daewoo a hot hatch? Don't think so. A manual transmission and a hatchback does not a "hot hatch" make.
        • 3 Years Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      For ~$20k, a Juke is a much better performance deal. 4 wheel disks, 17" wheels... and 188hp comes standard.
        Mr. Z
        • 3 Years Ago
        The Juke is a Joke
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Mr. Z
          It might be funny to look at, but the performance is not a joke at all.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Mr. Z
          Juke needs to drop about 4" and lose that car-on-stilts look... (and fix the hideous interior)
      • 3 Years Ago
      Drive it and repeat the headline with a straight face... lol
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Sir, we have a situation down at AB. Apparently the reveal of the Sonic RS and subsequent lavish praise are not going over so well with the dissidents." "Gawddamnit son, ah told yew not ta bother me when I'm having mah prescribed pot and beer break!" "But sir, we have to do something otherwise people may catch onto the fact that the Sonic RS is only 138hp and a boatload of crap." "Awright, quitcherbitchin', send out the UAW shills and down voters. Now lemme fire up this here bong and get back to mah discussioning with the rest of the old boys." "Sir! Long live the UAW, sir!" "Dismissed, son."
        • 3 Years Ago
        The decision to not upgrade the engine would have been made by the marketing and business teams, who are not part of the UAW.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't think you can call anything a "hot hatch" when a base model civic puts down more power...
        Nikolas Malechikos
        • 3 Years Ago
        This isn't meant to compete with the Civic... This is a B segment car.. meant to compete with the Honda Fit, Mazda2, Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta... The Cruze is meant to compete with the Civic, Focus, Corolla, Sentra, etc...
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