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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT Turbo Review - A Bowtie Pocket-Rocket +VIDEO

2012 Chevrolet Sonic
	Turbo (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Chevrolet Sonic Turbo

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Turbo Review
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Last minute schedule changes occur very often in our lives. And, the auto writer’s world is very much a part of that dynamic. Most recently for me, one of my scheduled test cars was needed elsewhere. Fortunately a substitute in the guise of a Chevy Sonic 5-door…hatchback to some…with the 1.4L turbo and 6-speed manual was available.

A few weeks earlier I had completed a drive in the Sonic sedan with the 1.8L engine and automatic. Now I would have a good opportunity to compare the two while the 1.8L was still fresh in my mind. As a brief reprise, the Sonic is a 5-passenger subcompact built by GM in Michigan and is offered as a 4-door sedan or the 5-door hatchback.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic
	Turbo (select to view enlarged photo)

The standard engine is the 138HP Ecotec 1.8L offered with either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. The optional Ecotec 1.4L turbo is also rated at 138 HP, but has more torque at a lower rpm and is only available with a 6-speed manual. The 1.4L with 6-speed is priced $700 additional and is offered in the LT and LTZ models. For that money you get a lot more acceleration and also a 40 mpg highway EPA rating.

If I were buying, the hatchback would be my choice for my citified living in Chicago. The passenger space is identical on both body styles. However the hatchback is about 14 inches shorter at 159 inches and has 19 cuft of cargo space behind the rear seats vs. the sedans 14 cuft trunk. Fold the rear seat down and you get nearly 31 cuft of space and lots of versatility.

For my in-depth overview when I drove the Sonic sedan here’s the link to my review on The Auto Channel.

Now let me talk about the fun-factor that comes with the 138HP turbo engine. This Sonic is indeed a little pocket-rocket. Quick acceleration from stop comes from the 148 lb.-ft. of torque that is full-on at 2500 rpm with the easy and precise shifting 6-speeds at your control. And the Sonic is lightweight, which helps. By the way, the Hill Hold feature on the manual takes away the sweat and makes for easy starts on an incline.

The suspension provides a balanced ride and excellent handling making the Sonic very agile and fun for zooming around town. And its small size makes it easy to maneuver crowded city streets and dodge around the buses and trash trucks. Disc brakes up front along with the ABS make for sure stopping. Jump on the highway rowing through the gears and the 40 mpg EPA rating will take you a little shy of 500 miles.

My Auto Channel colleague in Detroit, Steve Purdy, also recently drove the Sonic 1.4L Turbo hatch. Check out Steve's story here on The Auto Channel.

Not to steal his thunder, but Steve says don’t miss it!

2012 Chevrolet Sonic
	Turbo(select to view enlarged photo)

At the recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit Chevy unveiled an even hotter Sonic, the 2013 Sonic RS. Planned to go on sale in late 2012, the Sonic RS has unique exterior and interior features matched with the 138HP Ecotec 1.4L Turbo engine. The Sonic RS will be offered exclusively in the five-door body style and also gets 4-wheel disc brakes.

Unique RS features include a new front fascia with a new fog lamp design, new RS-specific grille, new rear fascia, new rear spoiler, new rocker mouldings, 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 and RS badging.

On the inside the RS features new front sport seats, a new sport steering wheel with thicker rim and racing-inspired flat-bottom design, new shifter knob, new aluminum sport pedals, new specific instrument panel cluster graphics and RS-specific interior trim color for the instrument panel and door trim inserts.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic
	Turbo (select to view enlarged photo)

The Sonic is quite refined and fun to drive with good interior comfort as well as a comfortable ride. It’s pretty quick and even better than its competitors. I prefer the hatchback for its versatility, shorter length and, I think, it’s better looking than the sedan. But, some folks might prefer the more traditional sedan styling.

In any case, shop this car if you are in the subcompact market. Pricing starts under $15,000 and that’s something to think about.

Watch the Sonic video news release

© Larry Nutson