Chev's new, super Sonic
General Motors South Africa has added three new models and a diesel engine to its popular, and affordable, Chevrolet Sonic range.
Launched last week in Oudtshoorn, the Sonic is now available as a sedan. Previously, only the hatchback was available.
The hatch has been given a dynamic diesel engine which is aimed four-square at the only other oil burner with a similar sized powerplant, the Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TDI 5-door BlueMotion.
The 1.3 LS MT diesel six-speed costs R178730 - compared to the Polo's R183500 - and the competitive pricing means GMSA is drawing the battle lines in the entry-level diesel market.
GM sold 431 Sonics last month, and this is expected to increase with the sedan, diesel and petrol motors. As with the hatch, the sedan models are offered with a choice of either 1.4-litre or 1.6-litre petrol engines. The 1.4-litre engine produces 74kW at 6000rpm with 130Nm of torque while the 1.6-litre engine delivers 85kW at 6000rpm with 155Nm of torque at 4000rpm.
The 1.3-litre oil burner boasts the latest generation turbocharged, and inter-cooled, common rail injection diesel technology and produces 70kW with peak torque of 210Nm.
GM says it achieves this level of performance together with an average fuel consumption of a little over 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres. Drive is via a six-speed manual transmission.
Back to the sedan model. GM says the introduction of a six-speed automatic transmission as an option is a global first for Chevrolet in the small car segment.
This electronically controlled transmission includes adaptive shift control that allows engine braking when slowing down or negotiating steep downhill gradients.
We were able to drive the cars through the historic Meiringspoort and back. The poort has soaring cliff walls with spectacular rock formations which line the 25km tarred road which winds along the floor of the gorge, crossing the Groot River 25 times.
We had ample opportunity to put the Sonics through their paces and came away impressed with the handling, performance and torque of this gutsy little car. Driving the diesel in town we noticed a slight turbo lag but this did not detract from the generally enjoyable experience. On the open road it was very impressive and behaved like a bigger petrol engine car.
It cruises effortlessly at the legal limit and overtaking is impressive because of the copious torque.
The sedan model will appeal to those buyers wanting more luggage space. The car offers a spacious interior, with luggage volume that is at the top of the class among its global competitors, says GM.
GM says occupant safety was an overriding engineering objective for the new Sonic with a no compromise target of a five-star NCAP safety rating.
While the Chev Sonic range is relatively new to the South African market, we can expect to see it gain in popularity once more buyers are exposed to it.
The addition of the sedan model and a diesel engine will be a powerful attraction to those looking for a good, affordable family car.
Chevrolet Sonic LS Hatch
Engine: 1.3l turbocharged four-cylinder diesel manual
Power: 70kW at 4000rpm
Torque: 210Nm 1750 - 2500rpm
Acceleration: 0 to 100km/h: 11.7 seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 174km/h (claimed)
Fuel consumption: 4.6l/100km (claimed)
CO2: 119g/km (claimed)
Chevrolet Sonic LS Sedan
Engine: 1.4l LS petrol four-cylinder manual
Power: 74kW at 6000rpm
Torque: 130Nm at 4000rpm
Acceleration: 0 to 100km/h: 12.7 seconds
Top speed: 174km/h
Fuel consumption: 5.8 l/100km
Chevrolet Sonic LS Sedan
Engine: 1.6l LS petrol four-cylinder auto
Power: 85kW at 6000rpm
Torque: 155Nm at 4000rpm
Acceleration: 0 to 100km/h: 11.3 seconds
Top speed: 183km/h
Fuel consumption: 6.5l/100km
Price: R178570; R168570 manual
The diesel engine hatch
We don't like:
Rattles in the sedan door