GMSA Extends Chevrolet Sonic Range with Sedan Variant and Diesel Power for Hatch







Published by Gerald Ferreira Date: February 1, 2012
Categories: Chevrolet, Chevrolet Sonic

  • Sonic Sedan adds three models to Chevrolet Sonic range
  • Introducing six-speed automatic transmission to small car segment
  • 1.4 and 1.6 litre petrol engine drivetrains for Sonic Sedan
  • Advanced technology diesel power for Sonic Hatch
  • Interior theme of sporty sophistication
  • Detailed execution of design through production
  • Refined ride and handling compete with best in global segment

Chevrolet Sonic Sedan

The new Chevrolet Sonic Sedan adds traditional sedan body styling to the exciting Sonic range introduced to South African buyers in late 2011.

Chevrolet Sonic Sedan

This sedan body style caters for more mature buyers who favour a three-box body configuration with a boot over a more youth oriented hatchback styling. This addition to the Sonic range follows the uncompromising design criteria of the Sonic Hatch and like its sporty stable mate, brings new levels of style, quality, and refinement to the small car segment.

As with the Sonic 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 74 kW @ 6000 r/min with 130 Nm of torque while the 1.6 litre engine delivers 85 kW @ 6000 r/min with 155 Nm of torque @ 4000 r/min.

A global first for Chevrolet in the small car segment is the introduction of a 6-speed automatic transmission as an option on the Sonic Sedan. This is matched to the 1.6 litre petrol engine. This electronically controlled transmission includes adaptive shift control that allows engine braking when slowing down or negotiating steep downhill gradients.

All three Sonic Sedan models feature the comprehensive Chevrolet LS specification level.

Diesel power for Chevrolet Sonic Hatch

Coinciding with the extension of the Sonic model range to include sedan variants is the introduction of an advanced 1.3 litre diesel engine option for the Sonic Hatch to complement the 1.4 and 1.6 litre petrol engines.

This latest generation turbocharged and intercooled common rail injection diesel engine produces 70 kW with peak torque of 210 Nm. It achieves this level of performance together with a miserly average fuel consumption of a little over four and a half litres per 100 kilometres. Variable vane turbocharger technology ensures optimum power and torque delivery over the full engine range with exceptional fuel economy.

Drive is via a 6-speed manual transmission.

As with the other models in the Sonic line-up the trim specification is the Chevrolet LS level.

New global architecture for 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.

Chevrolet Sonic Sedan Logo

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 new 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

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 Sedan adds a level of maturity with its traditional three-box form. The definitive modern styling is carried through into the sedan configuration with the taut lines of the hatch blended into the sleek rearward extension for the boot. The character of the Sonic sedan is more conservative, and perhaps a little more upmarket in its presence, tailored towards the more mature buyer. It shares the same sporty attributes of the Sonic Hatch but in a slight more reserved presentation

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 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.

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

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

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 finish 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.

New level of refinement

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 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 quiet 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

The powertrain options for the Sonic Sedan and Hatch include two 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. These 1.4 and 1.6 litre engines drive through a 5-speed manual transmission with a 6-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission available as an option on the Sonic Sedan 1.6 LS.

Added to this is an advanced technology 1.3 litre common rail diesel engine with variable vane turbo and intercooler. Drive is via a 6-speed manual transmission. This engine is only available on the Sonic Hatch.

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.

The 1.3 litre diesel engine produces maximum power of 70kW @ 4000 r/min and 210Nm of torque at just 1750 r/min. Average fuel consumption measured in Chevrolet factory tests is a miserly 4,6 l/100km.

Ride and handling

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 driving dynamics only 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.

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 South African specification on all models.

Safety

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.