First Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, Part II


Our morning began in the hip Montreal hotel Opus, where our GM hosts PowerPointed us over breakfast. You’ll be pleased to know that the DailyXY reader is pretty much the bull’s eye target driver for the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic.

About an hour later, journos paired up for a day of driving. There were different models to choose from but everybody scrambled for the LTZ, which boasts a 1.4L turbocharged engine with 6-speed manual transmission. My drive partner for the day and I snagged one: a sedan.

Driving the LTZ sedan with 1.4L turbocharged ECOTEC engine
This Sonic sedan is compact, though surprisingly roomy in the front and back. Shifting proved smooth – it has a very short first gear but a pretty forgiving second and third. An interesting feature: it suggests when you may want to shift up. It tended to suggest earlier than either I or my partner wanted to. Heavy feet.

The first leg of the drive took us out of town to the south shore of the St. Lawrence. Small Québec towns are ridiculously pretty, with their clapboard houses and magnificent stone churches ever-capped with bright tin roofs. Even with the poor weather, the surroundings were absolutely lovely. Try the drive sometime, if you don’t mind Québec roads.

The LTZ sedan was tightly tuned for performance. Indeed, the stiffness rattled the bones a bit on roads so holey they inspired nostalgia for Toronto, but the drive was sporty. My partner, whose knowledge of cars is encyclopedic, is also pregnant (yes, girls often know more about cars than the colour) and longed for a rest stop well before the scheduled time. It may also explain her heavy foot.

Driving the LT 5-door hatchback with 1.8L 4-banger
In the afternoon we switched cars to the 5-door hatchback LT. The centre of gravity was preferable to the sedan’s, and the suspension was just as sporty. The automatic was admittedly less fun (as is always the case), but the 1.8L 4-cylinder engine performed a bit quite different, offering better control when switched to sport mode.

LT does quite well on fuel economy, providing cruise control as a standard feature with the LT model.

Both the sedan and 5-door have some good design lines but the hatch has a lovely ass and attractive 2-tone soft plastic cockpit. Both offer plenty of cabin space for four passengers, and solutions for cargo storage. The instrument cluster is also worthy of note: An analog tachometer rests beside a digital speedometer, inside a ‘motorcycle-inspired’ design.

At around 5:30 p.m., we arrived at PUR, our hip Québec City hotel, located in an up-and-coming section of downtown. Well away from the Unesco-protected fortifications, this northern ’hood didn’t get much love from travel writers until fairly recently.

Tonight, our media group and hosts dine at Versa, a restaurant of note. I wonder what we’ll talk about…


Image courtesy of Steven Bochenek.

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