Although Chevrolet will not be sold in Europe to give Opel a fighting chance in that market, in South Africa, the golden-badged empire expands with a host of new products launching this year, starting with the Chevrolet Sonic RS.
The Sonic has been with us for some time but this new halo model brings the nameplate right up to date by being fitted with Chevrolet’s new MyLink system as standard. It is a superb touchscreen/smartphone interface, and we’ll look at it closely later on.
The LooksI loved my Sega Megadrive as a kid and the smash hit game at the time was Sonic the Hedgehog. I have a feeling that the blue speedy spiky-haired rascal would have liked the bold little Sonic, especially in RS trim. It’s one of those cars that looks like it’s moving quickly while standing still.
Those 17-inch mags are standard on this model and they help transform the overall look. Coupled with some nice new paint options, you might find yourself wanting one more than you expected. A fairly large rear spoiler completes the package.
The EngineChevrolet’s global EcoTec (read Opel) powerplant does duty here, in 1.4 turbo guise. Your petrol will be converted into a maximum of 103 kW and 200 Nm of torque, sent through the front wheels. It’s not a monumental amount of power but the Sonic never feels sluggish, unless your revs are too low in a higher gear.
0 -100km/h comes up in 9.5 seconds, which again is not stellar, but it feels quicker and in-gear acceleration is very decent, making overtaking a stress-free affair, especially if you drop a gear. A top speed of 197km/h is claimed.
Sonic RS fuel consumptionOfficial fuel consumption is at 6.6 litres/100km combined. We achieved 8.6 on our launch route, which was mostly the swooping open roads of the Western Cape. Also, we were using most of the kilowatts, so I would imagine you may achieve quite close to the manufacturer’s figure.
The ride and handlingWhile I think rivals like the Suzuki Swift Sport are a little more fun and more visceral than the RS, the little Sonic does manage to entertain while giving you confidence to attack the bends.
There’s a healthy amount of grip and a tuned suspension keeps things on the right side of sporty, without feeling crashy. It’s well set up for where it will spend most of its life – around town – but if you find yourself on a glorious cape road, there’s enough front-wheel-drive-themed sportiness to keep you interested.
Chevrolet MyLinkThe interior has not changed much from other models but they have done enough to make it feel sufficiently special in here. There is a special RS steering wheel which really helps set the tone for a sportier drive. Little red “RS” accents are everywhere, including on the larger rev counter and leather with red stitching and piping is standard.
I’m not terribly impressed by some of the plastics but it overall it’s well put together and not at all offensive on the eye.
The highlight of this model is by far and away the 7-inch, high resolution touch screen dominating the dash. The MyLink system is bang up to date and connects seamlessly with your smartphone, for which there is a convenient second cubby hole in the dash, with USB and aux jack inputs.
The system allows you to control apps on your phone via the touch screen and steering wheel controls. We used TuneIn, an international radio app, to stream BBC Radio One through the winelands. Brilliant. Nice sound system too.
Chevrolet Sonic RS Price in South AfricaThe new Chevrolet Sonic RS is available for R 225 300 and is available as standard with a 5-year/ 120 000 km warranty and a 3-year/ 60 000 km service plan linked to service intervals of 15 000 km.
RivalsThe only true rival on all aspects is the Suzuki Swift Sport. At R223 900, with a 1.6 normally aspirated motor, you might be better off with the turbo’d RS on the reef, but at the coast, my choice would be the Swift. It’s quite simply a more involving drive. Although, I would miss that MyLink system very much.
The Sonic 1.3D is an interesting alternative. At R201 500, there is more torque on tap, but only 70kW. 0 – 100 is 11.7 seconds but claimed fuel consumption is 4.6 litres/100km – very impressive. So you’d save on initial purchase and every day on fuel.
And lastly, everyone has a Mini. Instead of buying the bog standard Cooper when you know you want the Cooper S, why not save a small fortune (R247 642 for the Cooper, R314 668 for the S) and have a look at the Sonic. It has more power than the Cooper (90kw vs 103kw) more torque (160nM vs 200Nm) but the Sonic uses a little more fuel (5.8 vs 6.6l/100km).
The Mini might be a better drive, but it’s less practical, and you’ll get way more of the kit you use every day in the Sonic. Not a bad option in my opinion.
Chevrolet Sonic RS 1.4T Quick Specs
|Engine||1.4-litre turbocharged inline-4 petrol|
|Power||103 kW @ 4 900 – 6 000 rpm|
|Torque||200 Nm @ 1 850 – 4 900 rpm|
|0-100km/h (Claimed)||9.5 seconds (claimed)|
|Fuel economy||8.6l/100km (tested on the launch route)|