First Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic

Tomorrow, Canadian media will head to Québec City for this country’s official launch of the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, GM’s latest offering to the small car market. Here in Montréal, we’re staying at the Opus Hotel, a hip spot at the iconic corner of St Laurent and Sherbrooke, and we’ll be dining with company VP, Marc Comeau.

While we have yet to drive the Sonic, two hatchbacks are on display in the hotel’s sleek, private dining room. They’re sporty and aerodynamic, with aggressively downward bonnets. One has been accessorized with body wrap, front fog lamps, a badass spoiler and loads of chrome. (You’ll be able to do the same if you buy one; they have loads of options to personalize it to your taste.)

Tomorrow we’re up early to convoy up to Québec City in assorted Sonic models. Always curious with how small cars maximize space (and of course perform on extended drives), I’m looking forward to the drive. The day will culminate with an opportunity to drive the competition: Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent. It’s interesting to note that neither the Mazda2 nor the Fiat 500 are on that list. What we leave out is often more eloquent that what we say.

While every launch is important, this one is likely more so than usual for GM. The price of fuel shows no sign of giving us a break and neither does the economy. Consumers are going to want value and fuel economy – but they’ll need a bit of joy when they finish their brutal day. The Chevy Aveo, which is going off quietly into the night, offered value for money but fell a bit short on the joy. Both the Sonic hatchback and sedan have a pugnacious, low-to-the-ground stance and the LTZ model is turbocharged for extra efficiency.

It sounds promising. Better still, American reviewers have been generally positive about the Sonic’s performance. I’m certainly looking forward to offering my own observations. À demain.


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