Review: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ Turbo Take Two

Posted on 12. Feb, 2012 by in Auto News

My initial review of the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic was less than stellar. Significantly less. But, as I said, the review covered the LT trim level with the normally aspirated 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic. All other (aside from our own Steve Lang) was reviewing the LTZ trim level with the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-and six-speed manual transmission. They were much more positive about the car. How much difference can a motor, gearbox and tires make?

The differences start with appearance. Car companies often fit cars with a smaller wheel, as they were designed, but how they can help it, expect sell cars escapes me. Even though some people to buy the aesthetic haunted car, it will look different in the street and form their first impressions accordingly. While not a beauty in every configuration that Sonic looks much better with the LTZ, the 17-inch alloys as the LT of the 15s. The aggressively styled front end and chunky fenders were clearly written with the larger wheels (or perhaps even greater) in mind. Especially when the car is painted orange, because both cars were tested, the 17s should be mandatory. Both the cars tested were hatchbacks, but in contrast to other B-segment cars the Sonic sedan is equally attractive.

The interior plastics seem to have no better after a week, as they did during my previous test drive. Even in the LTZ they are in competition with other cars in this segment, but a clear step down from the fabric trim (on the dashboard!) And soft touch polymers of C-segment Cruze. My preference for the motorcycle-inspired instrument cluster has grown up with familiarity. Unlike the oddball digital instruments of the past decades that actually work in the Sonic good, clear and entertaining presents important information.

The driving position and interior dimensions are, of course, unchanged from the LT to the LTZ. In both cut the Sonic feels larger than its direct competitors, and more like cars from a class size up, thanks to a high beltline and wide windshield. Whether this is a plus or a minus depending on whether you prefer your small car seem small indeed. Chevrolet bet is a no doubt a sound: Most people would get to buy a B-segment car slightly larger, if they could afford it. Actual interior is among the best in the segment, so that the average adult will only fit without scrunching. The front seats are comfortable, but those who are much lateral support will be much happier in the coming 2013 Sonic RS. Oddly enough, the seats just a degree of customization.

The 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, but could be sucked with the same peak horsepower rating than normal 1.8, it's not a screamer. In fact, it is the opposite. Where the 1.8 noses gurgles, growls and roars in the process of motivating the Sonic £ 2600 (which was not really a big contract for a 138-hp 1.8 be), the 1.4T effectively fulfilled this task. The difference: a much plumper midrange (indicated by 148 pounds-feet of torque vs. 125), and more refinement from idle to redline. In fact, the 1.4T is not only smoother and stronger than the other engine Sonics, but better than the segment other power plants. If you are after a B-segment car that offers effortless acceleration in typical suburban road, the Sonic is the 1.4T engine is your only option in North America.

Given the motor plump midrange and less thick top end, it was clear for optimized the former-there is little joy and even less justification for the races in the redline. But the six-speed manual is still the way to go. The stick feels smoother and firmer than in the past GM efforts and as current efforts Hyundai Accent. Apart from the more direct connection to the car has a manual transmission always, this one offers the additional advantage of avoiding the refined, poorly programmed six-speed automatic. Then again, (although this combo has been offered since its inception in Cruze.) Automatic is not yet available with the 1.4T, the EPA ratings: 29 city, 40 highway. In S-Drive with a light foot, the onboard computer reported 34.5 to 37.5. With a heavier foot, from 27 to 30 reported

Already mentioned: the Sonic feels like a bigger car from the driver's seat. Aside from that, they treated quite well in LTZ trim, where the 205/50HR17 Hankook Optimo H428 tires actually have enough grip to carry the suspension (if could handle, much less than the suspension). There are even some communication from the steering wheel when a smaller diameter than the accepted standard GM unit would. Probably tuned with young, inexperienced drivers in mind, the Sonic feels very stable and manageable even when the front tire begins to slide her progressive moderate understeer. For all but the least skilled drivers the Sonic LTZ 1.4T was an easy and enjoyable (though not engaged) car driving fast on a winding road.

Faced with this safe, predictable handling, driving dynamics control, which cuts in much earlier and more aggressive than the typical GM system is exaggerated. Hold the button to turn the system off is not really off, just bumps the intervention threshold. And even then, the system cuts in a little early. If you can not safely train the Sonic even without the help of a stability control, you probably should not go.

Although the Sonics handling limits are managed on a sharp and his body movements better than the softer sprung Cruze, the ride is about as smooth and quiet as it gets in this class. The Ford Fiesta Euro feels taut and firm, but the Chevrolet feels larger and more uniform.

The big disadvantage of the 1.4T engine: it adds $ 700 to the price Sonics, a significant sum in this highly price-sensitive segment. Go with the LTZ to suitably-sized rims and the sticker comes to $ 18,695. A Hyundai Accent SE with an equally powerful, but not nearly as torquey 1.6-liter four-cylinder is $ 2,000 less. The Sonic does not include a number of additional functions, including four additional airbags, a telescoping steering wheel, automatic headlights, heated seats and OnStar. (But if you want rear disc brakes as standard on the Hyundai that you must wait for the even more expensive in 2013 Sonic RS.) Ask reserves for this function differences with True Delta car price comparison tool and the Accent a 600 $ advantage. Which is basically how much the 1.4T engine costs. Consider this the price in the mid-range torque, and when feature differences are adjusted, the two cars are close in price. And the Ford Fiesta? Topping $ 19,000 when equipped similarly, it is clearly the most expensive of the three.

Longish story short, the Sonic is a much better car with the engine and the 1.4T LTZ the larger wheels. Unfortunately, these features are push the price significantly. Value-conscious folk GM requires a finer base engine and a 17-inch wheel option for the LT. For lovers is an RS on the way to the sports bucket and sports suspension. What the RS does not have: a more powerful engine. That's a shame. While the 1.4T is the best engine in the segment for the typical driver, there is a strong force midrange makes it less suitable for enthusiasts a withdrawal north of 4,000 rpm. The Opel Corsa is available with a 189-hp 1.6-liter engine. If GM were really swinging for the fences, it would be the engine in the Sonic RS.

Chevrolet provided the car with a full tank of gas and insurance.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.