All-new Sonic redefines Chevrolet’s representation in small car sector


All-new Sonic redefines Chevrolet’s representation in small car sector

Sporty and youthful styling for 5-door hatch Interior theme of sporty sophistication Detailed execution of design through production Latest generation engines deliver fuel efficient fun motoring experience Ride and handling refined to compete with best in global segment New global architecture Chevrolet Sonic The all-new Chevrolet Sonic is set to redefine Chevrolet’s presence in the […]

  • Sporty and youthful styling for 5-door hatch
  • Interior theme of sporty sophistication
  • Detailed execution of design through production
  • Latest generation engines deliver fuel efficient fun motoring experience
  • Ride and handling refined to compete with best in global segment

New global architecture Chevrolet Sonic


The all-new Chevrolet Sonic is set to redefine Chevrolet’s presence in the global ‘B’ segment for passenger vehicles.  It has been designed, engineered and executed through production to compete with the best vehicles on offer globally in the small car segment.

The Sonic is based on General Motors Body-Frame-Integral (BFI) 5-seat passenger vehicle global styling and design philosophy. This brings together the exceptional global resources available to GM in the fields of vehicle design, styling, engineering and manufacturing talent. These resources have been pooled to create vehicle platforms that are expected to set new benchmarks in exterior styling; interior design; ride and handling; quality execution and powertrain performance.


The Chevrolet Sonic is the first model developed off GM’s all-new global front wheel drive small car architecture known as Gamma. This global vehicle architecture is the foundation for small car offerings from GM that will be sold in more than 50 countries going forward through the next five years. By the 2014 calendar year this architecture is expected to account for as many as 2,4 million vehicles produced around the world.

Exterior design Chevrolet Sonic

The Sonic has been conceived as highly refined vehicle with a sporty and youthful character.

Viewed from any angle the Sonic presents itself as a progressive vehicle with style and polish. While the core design philosophy for the hatch and sedan models is essentially the same, each presents its own unique character.


The 5-door hatch presents itself as a modern 2-box form with aggressive feature lines; taut lean surfaces; and pronounced wheel arches that hug the wheels for an aggressive stance. The looks sum up the character: Sporty, fun to drive, and planted to the road.

The Sonic makes a fresh, modern, and progressive statement in the global small car segment. That said its Chevrolet heritage, drawn from 100 years of experience for Chevrolet in vehicle manufacturing, is immediately apparent.

Typical of the Chevrolet brand identity is the prominent signature dual port grille with its distinctive “bow-tie” motif. The chrome surround of the grille is offset against a matt-black honeycomb mesh grille.

The headlamps – a key design element – are, in the words of the design team, “exposed” with a similar styling treatment seen on some motorcycle headlamps. The headlamps don’t have traditional lens covers. This allows for a true three-dimensional appearance for the forward corners of the Sonic. The quad-halogen reflector lamps are housed in dual tube-style mounts with contrasting high-gloss black bezels and chrome surrounds providing a jewel like accent to the front face of the vehicle.

The bonnet surface has a subtle centreline break with crisp scallops outboard that run from the cowl to the forward bonnet line for an aggressive swept appearance.

The forward and high positioning of the cowl line creates a swept, aero appearance for the windscreen and upper cab area as it transitions into the roof-line. This treatment also provides for improved visibility. The windscreen is inset 6mm into the “A” pillar, a treatment that enhances aerodynamics and optimises windscreen wiper performance by decreasing airflow over the windscreen surface.

A dramatic offset between the roof rails and the shoulder line compliments the pronounced wheel arches and wide track (1509mm) of the Sonic that define its aggressive body-in, wheels-out design philosophy.

Rear door handles are placed on the rear upper portion of the door behind the window aperture rather than in the traditional door-side position. This creates the styling illusion of a coupé-like appearance with full four-door functionality.

Clearly defined wheel arches follow the body-in, wheels-out design formulated around a wheelbase of 2525mm that is key to the athletic appearance of the Sonic.


Interior styling Chevrolet Sonic

The theme of sporty sophistication is applied to the interior of the Sonic hatch.

The interior environment is created around Chevrolet’s signature dual-cockpit theme but with a progressive interpretation based on “colour that envelopes the front occupants”.

The Sonic offers a spacious interior, including functional luggage volume that is at the top of the range amongst its global competitors. Surface treatments, especially those where panels meet, have been refined to the extent that they offer near-zero gap tolerances for an exceptional level of visual quality.

Surface treatments and the styling of interior appointments are tuned for visual appeal but also to tactile and audio senses as well. Extensive provision is made for the stowage of odds and ends within the vehicle with numerous intuitively located receptacles provided.

The seats and their related mounts and structures have been designed to provide best-in-class levels of comfort and support. A high level of electronic connectivity is provided for. Unexpected in this class of vehicle is the creative application of ambient lighting styling cues within the vehicle.

The interior styling team drew on the comprehensive facilities available to them for computerised three-dimensional mathematical modelling to arrive at the instrument cluster design. This resulted in a combination analogue/digital arrangement based on a traditional tubular shaped analogue tachometer on the left and a rectangular liquid crystal display for the speedometer on the right. The combination display provides for the display of all common telltales that keep the driver informed of engine operating parameters and the traditional indicators for turn signals and lights.

The overall interior design and the execution of that design is targeted at challenging established norms in the class.

The sporty theme is extended to the gear-shift lever with its perforated boot and acrylic encapsulated gear knob with chrome accented shift gate against a black background.

New level of refinement Chevrolet Sonic

The aesthetics of the new Chevrolet Sonic convey an overall first impression of refinement and quality. The engineering team has ensured that this all-important first impression of quality is carried right through the vehicle from the basic structure, through the achievement of low levels of noise vibration and harshness, and attention to manufacturing detail. The overall objective throughout the development of this new global Chevrolet model has been to create one of the most highly crafted vehicles in its class.

The Sonic is the first vehicle to be produced based on General Motors’ latest global front-wheel-drive small vehicle architecture. At the core of this is the philosophy of a body-frame-integral (BFI) structure. With BFI the upper body structure and frame are engineered in a single unit to enable a more weight efficient and stronger structure. BFI structures offer a superior foundation for achieving a more sporty vehicle characteristic and open up a broader range of styling opportunities.

The application of the BFI structure in the Sonic together with a number of holistically designed structural enhancements that incorporate advanced high-strength steels has ensured that this new small car from Chevrolet has torsional rigidity and stiffness ratings that are amongst the best in the global small car segment.

High-strength or advanced high-strength steels are used in more than 65% of the lower body structure of the Sonic and 50% of the upper structure. Most notable are the application of dual-phase, bake hardening, and press hardening steels – materials used in the “B” pillar, font header, side rocker panels and rear bumper areas of the Sonic. These structural elements are designed to meet the requirements of 5-star NCAP safety tests and provide the ability for the Sonic to support 4,2 times the weight of the vehicle in the event of a roll-over. This performance well exceeds roof crush standards applied around the world.

A practical measure of the advances made in materials used in the new Sonic can be gauged from the comparative strengths of materials used in previous models versus those in the latest model. High tensile steels used previously were in the tensile strength range of 340 to 550mpa. The advanced steels used in the Sonic regularly reach tensile strengths of 1000mpa or higher.

Refinement in the new Sonic extends to a pleasantly quite cabin ambience. The focus on ride comfort and refinement in the design stage of the vehicle has resulted in a surprisingly low interior noise level for a vehicle of this size. The wind noise rating for example is just 40,5 decibels.

Powerful and efficient powertrain Chevrolet Sonic

The powertrain options for the Sonic Hatch at launch are based on a range of latest technology four-cylinder petrol engines that offer a superb balance between performance and efficiency. Outstanding refinement, efficiency, power and torque across the range ensure that a fun-to-drive experience.

The engines to be offered in Zimbabwe are 1,4 and 1,6 litre petrol engines. These two engines drive through a 5-speed manual transmission.

The 1,4 litre petrol engine produces maximum power of 74kW @ 6000 r/min and peak torque of 130Nm @ 4000 r/min. Combined cycle fuel economy is estimated at 5,8 l/100km.

The 1,6 litre petrol engine produces maximum power of 85kW @ 6000 r/min with peak torque of 155Nm @ 4000 r/min. Combine cycle fuel economy for this engine option is estimated at 6,5 l/100km.

Ride and handling Chevrolet Sonic

The new Sonic has been engineered to deliver distinctly European driving dynamics with exceptional ride comfort and responsive handling targeted at competing with the best cars in its segment.

The Sonic offers a tempered, stable and comfortable ride over even the most demanding of road surfaces. Handling is responsive with outstanding feedback and feel for the driver. It is a fun-to-drive vehicle with vehicle dynamics expected in premium class vehicles offered at a far higher price.

At the heart of the exceptional vehicle dynamics is the taught BFI structure of the Sonic, measured amongst the stiffest body structures in its class. This inherently taught nature of the vehicle is a primary enabler for optimised chassis tuning and imparts a heightened sense of stability and confidence for the driver.

Chevrolet Sonic Chassis features include:

  • McPherson strut front suspension with offset shock towers (side load compensated) and a hollow type stabiliser bar. A long engine sub-frame ensures a stiffer front end for the vehicle resulting in enhanced responsiveness and a wider tuning range for the suspension.
  • Compound crank (torsion beam) type rear suspension incorporating a tubular V-shape beam for effective suspension tuning and improved performance.
  • Equal front and rear track of 1509mm ensures stability and balanced dynamics front to rear.
  • Vented front disc brakes combined with rear drum brakes provide for an efficient and cost effective package without compromise to stopping performance.
  • ABS with EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution) is standard for the Zimbabwe specification on all models.

Safety Chevrolet Sonic

The inherently strong BFI structure of the Sonic combines with an impressive array of active and passive safety features to ensure that the Sonic ranks amongst the best-in-class when it comes to overall vehicle safety.

Occupant safety was an overriding engineering objective for the new Sonic with a no compromise target of a 5-star NCAP safety rating. The highest ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in North America were also targeted together with that organisation’s rating as a Top Safety Pick. Roll over safety is ensured by the Sonic’s capability to withstand 4,2 times its own weight in the event of a rollover, a performance that well exceeds roof-crush performance standards.

The basic integrity of the vehicle structure is supplemented by an array of active and passive safety features including ABS anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), and driver and passenger airbag protection, including side airbags. 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.

Gerald Ferreira

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Published : Friday May 11, 2012

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