Sonic boom

“..a sonic speed, wanna rev it up into the red
Yeah, ’cause he’s got the groove…”

Those two lines from the song ‘Sputnik Monroe’ by Gluecifer embody the spirit of the word ‘sonic’ – you know, supersonic, hypersonic etc – yet the actual meaning of sonic is not about speed but is ‘related to sound’ and, perhaps, its new hatchback is a call to ‘the new beat’ of Chevrolet.

Chris Perry, GM’s vice president for Chevrolet US marketing explains the reason for the name: “The Sonic represents a new beginning for Chevrolet in the small car segment and so we felt it was time to give it a new name. The new car is roomy, stylish and fun to drive, and Sonic is a youthful, energetic name that helps convey what this vehicle is about.”

The Sonic is the Aveo replacement. Well, not really. In some coutries the Sonic will be called the Aveo, but here is SA, the Aveo will not actually disappear and will be positioned as a lower cost option below the new Sonic, officially launched in Hatch format and available in LS trim with a choice of either a 1,4-litre or a 1,6-litre petrol engine.

The first new model from Chevrolet based on GM’s ‘Gamma’ new global front wheel drive passenger car architecture, the Sonic 5-door hatch offers not only a high level of quality – aimed at achieving best-in-segment standards – and exciting interior and exterior styling, but also a high level of comfort and safety specifications.

Bob Smith, GMSA Fleet Sales Manager, says: “If you are considering downsizing from a C segment hatchback, but are not looking to downgrade in the process then the new Sonic deserves being considered.

“Sonic has ample front shoulder room, good all round visibility and is easy to park in confined spaces. The Sonic’s core competency lies on the road where it delivers a driving experience far beyond most consumer’s expectations.

“So if you’re looking for a sturdy, fresh, budget friendly vehicle for your fleet, then visit a GM dealership, because it deserves a test drive.”

The Sonic Hatch 1.4 LS is powered by Chevrolet’s new generation 1,4-litre four-cylinder double overhead camshaft engine with variable valve timing on both inlet and exhaust camshafts. This engine produces 74 kW at 6 000 r/min with maximum torque of 130 Nm at 4 000 r/min. The combined cycle fuel economy measured by Chevrolet engineers is 5,8 l/100km.

The larger engine Sonic Hatch 1.6 LS also features a new generation four-cylinder engine, again a 16-valve, dual overhead camshaft engine with variable valve timing for both inlet and exhaust. Maximum power for this engine is 85 kW at 6 000 r/min with peak torque of 155 Nm delivered at 4 000 r/min. The combined cycle for this model is 6,5 l/100km.

DCVCP, an enhanced form of variable valve timing, allows the intake and exhaust valve timing to be continuously varied according to driving conditions at any given moment with the accent on performance or economy depending on operating conditions and engine speed. An extremely compact and lightweight hydraulic vane type phaser is used to achieve the required camshaft timing adjustments.

The cylinder block is made from cast iron and has a hollow frame structure with cast iron bedplate for added rigidity. This results in a smooth running engine with excellent noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) characteristics. The pistons incorporate cooling oil-jets for enhanced lubrication and increased durability and the toothed timing belt has a change interval of 160 000 kilometres or 10 years.

Platinum-tipped spark plugs need only be changed every 160 000 kilometres. The spark plugs are activated by a coil-on-plug system that eliminates plug wires for improved operating reliability and reduced maintenance.

The new Sonic features a body-frame-integral (BFI) structure based on General Motors new global front-wheel-drive small vehicle architecture.

More than 60% of the lower structure of the Sonic and 50% of the upper body is constructed using high-strength or advanced high-strength steels. Most notable is the application of dual-phase bake hardening, and press-hardening steels in the strategic B-pillar, front header, side rockers, and rear bumper areas.

The use of so called ‘flat’ wiper blades assists in reducing wind noise by as much as one decibel. A characteristic of these blades is that they are devoid of any rigid support structure but rather have an aero shaped rib that runs along the top surface of the blade. The blades are aero tuned to the windshield shape for a lower profile and superior contact with the windshield.

Other refinements evident in the new Sonic include the use of some 10% more spot welds in the body structure that on the previous model. This results in added rigidity for the body and improved durability.

The basic integrity of the vehicle structure is supplemented by an array of active and passive safety features including anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), and driver and passenger air bag protection, including side air bags. A pedal release system offers added protection for the driver’s lower leg area. In the event of a severe frontal impact is designed to collapse away from the driver’s feet and legs to prevent them form being trapped between the pedals and the vehicle body.

Pedestrian safety was also a design consideration. The frontal area of the Sonic is designed to provide reduced exposure to pedestrian injuries caused by secondary impact with hard under bonnet objects like the battery or engine.

Additional protection is provided by the strong rear suspension cross member. This element of the vehicle assists in directing impact energy through to the side rocker panels after the rear longitudinal crush structures have done their work to absorb the initial forces.

A specific focus has been placed on limiting injuries to the lower leg and feet area of front occupants. The driver’s feet are protected by a pedal release system that folds away to prevent the feet and lower legs from being trapped in a severe front end impact. High-strength steel reinforcements are welded in place in the toe-pan area of the floor. On the passenger side the weld-pattern has been optimised to provide the maximum strength possible.

The Sonic 1.4 LS and 1.6 LS share a common specification level that offers an exceptional fleet value proposition. Standard specification on both models includes alloy wheels fitted with 195/65 R15 tyres (a full size spare wheel is provided), power steering, height and reach adjustable steering column, air-conditioner, power winders for the front windows, power operated side mirrors with foldaway and heating functions, height adjustable driver’s seat, RDS radio with front loading CD and MP3/Aux input and 4 speakers and onboard computer among them.

The Chevrolet Sonic Hatch 1.4 and 1.6 LS are covered by a 5 year/ 120 000 kilometre warranty with roadside assistance for the full warranty period. The anti corrosion warranty provides cover for 5 years with no limit on kilometres driven. Service intervals are 15 000 kilometres or 1 year. A 3 year/60 000 kilometre Service Plan is included in the price.

Available options (Comfort package) include an upgrade to the sound system that includes 6 speakers, a USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, and satellite steering wheel mounted audio controls. Cruise control is also available as a factory fitted option.

The Sonic features a McPherson strut-type front suspension with side-load compensated strut modules. Damping and spring rates have been tuned to achieve the best possible ride and handling characteristics depending on the powertrain fitted. Two distinct packages have been formulated to ensure the best ride and handling characteristics as adapted to the different powertrains and their impact on the overall weight of the vehicle.

The rear suspension system of the Sonic features a specially adapted compound crank (torsion beam) with a double walled, tubular v-shape beam profile. This design combines all the advantages of a conventional beam axle – such as minimised space requirements for installation – together with low weight and consistent camber control.

The braking system of the new Chevrolet Sonic has vented disc brakes at the front coupled with a drum brake system at the rear. Brake linings are of non-asbestos organic material with an enhanced wear life, reduced noise characteristic and excellent pedal feel. The parking brake is a cable operated mechanical system.

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