Test Drive: 2013 Chevy Sonic RS 5-door hatch

?2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS: A ton of fun?

2013 Chevy Sonic

The Bow-Tie team first displayed the Chevy Sonic at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The Sonic in its base form delivers a youthful and aggressive design, while the five-door hatchback version, is destined to seriously challenge the likes of Ford?s Fiesta, the Honda Fit and Toyota?s Yaris.

Sonic is actually offered in two body styles: the sedately styled four-door sedan and the much sportier, performance oriented Sonic five-door hatchback. Enter the Sonic RS – an even sportier 5-door hatch for 2013.

Two engines will see duty in the Sonic: a standard Ecotec 1.8-liter four-cylinder 130 horsepower engine paired with either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission; or an optionally available 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that delivers 138 horses along with 148 pound feet of torque. Both engines are DOHC with 16-valves, and are mounted up front in an East/West orientation, driving the front wheels. The turbocharged 1.4-liter four banger is the same engine that is used in Chevy?s Cruze, but in a smaller, lighter package, and with a considerably more pronounced performance feel.

2013 Chevy Sonic - Engine CompartmentSonic is built at the General Motors Orion Assembly Center in Michigan, which received a $545-million investment in upgrades and retooling, helping to restore approximately 1,000 jobs in the metropolitan Detroit area.


The 2013 Chevy Sonic projects a sense of strength, stability and refinement from virtually every angle. Its stance is wide and planted and the sharply raked body lines suggest forward motion even when parked. Up front is a dual element grille, while in the rear are motorcycle inspired round taillamps. The hood?s leading edge forms a character line above the headlamps that creates a sleek flowing side profile characterized by uninterrupted body side lines, with a high beltline and aerodynamic roofline. Side mirrors mimic the shape of the car, seemingly disappearing into the car?s profile.

2013 Chevy Sonic - side view

Though sharing the same basic DNA, the Sonic sedan and five-door models are distinctively different. The 2013 Chevy Sonic RS five-door comes in a tight, two-box shape with sporty, aggressive, diving feature lines, while the sedan?s ?notchback? profile displays a more sophisticated and mature presence. At first glance, the five-door model appears to be a three-door hatch because the rear door handles are discreetly located in the ?C?-pillar area. Styling includes matte black honeycomb grille inserts, with a range of large wheel sizes, including 17-inch alloy wheels that attest to its sporty demeanor. Moving to the inside, the cabin of the Sonic RS continues with the exterior?s motorcycle-inspired theme, featuring a large, round analog tachometer set within an asymmetrical LCD readout, including a large digital speedometer display. Additional details include: a mid-instrument panel surface that flow seamlessly into the upper doors, with premium finishes. The automatic shift knob displays a ?cobra head? design,? while the manual shifter has a chrome-ringed knob. Tubular outboard climate outlets protrude from the instrument panel surface.

2013 Chevy Sonic - Dashboard

All Sonic 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 tubular V-shape beam ? with gas-charged shocks. Front and rear tracks are identical at 59.4, for well-planted stability and exemplary balanced feel. Electronic power steering is standard and features a wear compensator that continually adjusts the system interaction with the steering gear ensuring precise steering action over the life of the system.

My test of tht?2013 Chevy?Sonic RS tester came with the 6-speed manual transmission, in an exterior finish of Summit White and a two-tone gray interior. The base sticker $20,995., while the sunroof and Destination charge elevated the final total to $21,845.

SUMMARY: ?In my opinion, the form and structure of the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS are more advanced and visually appealing than both the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit. I didn?t find the 4-door sedan as appealing as the 5-door hatch, but surprisingly a small focus group of young women actually overwhelmingly preferred the sedan, finding it more sophisticated and mature, and less ?boy-racer?. Go figure!

2013 Chevy Sonic - Rearview

The turbocharged 1.4-liter delivers instantaneous throttle response with virtually no noticeable turbo lag. The ride quality though firm was not harsh or uncomfortable. Handling performed positively and quickly through the electric power steering. The 10 mm lower ride height and unique ride and handling package of the Sonic RS delivers an exceptionally stable and planted feel, for a supremely heightened FUN factor.

The interior features user-friendly controls in an uncramped ambience with a sporty, yet functional flavor. In the final analysis, the new 2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS promises to take its place in the winner?s circle and is my pick of Chevy?s subcompact litter ? it showcase a sinister, performance oriented aura compared to the new runt of the litter, Chevy Spark?s cute and practical persona.

2013 Chevy Sonic - wheels

SPECIFICATIONS: 2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS-?13

Base Price: $20,995
Price as Tested: $21,845
Engine Type and Size: 1.4-liter Ecotec DOHC, 16-valve turbocharged inline four-cylinder with sequential multi-port fuel injectors with electronic throttle control.
Horsepower (bhp): 138 @ 4,900 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 148 @ 1,850 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / Front-wheel drive
Suspension: Front – MacPherson struts with offset coil springs and stabilizer bar.

Rear – Semi-independent, torsion beam axle-mount compound link-type with tubular V-shape beam and gas-charged shocks.

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with standard ABS and EBD.
Tires: Hankook Optimo H428 P205/50 R17 ALS mounted on 5-sculpted-spoke alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 99.4 inches
Length Overall: 159.0 inches
Width: 68.3 inches
Height: 59.3 inches
Curb Weight: 2,811 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 12.2 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: TBD mpg city / TBD mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: Not listed
0 – 60 mph: Not tested










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