2014 Chevrolet Sonic | road test

Posted on Mar 31, 2014 by
2014  Chevrolet Sonic
  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 3.5 stars
  • Very Good
AEDAED 52,000 - 59,500
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  • Rated 0 stars
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  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: December 10, 2014
  • Exterior
    Editor: 60%
  • Interior
    Editor: 70%
  • Quality
    Editor: 70%
  • Features
    Editor: 70%
  • Performance
    Editor: 70%
  • Value for money
    Editor: 60%

Review Summary:

I am not a fan of compact saloon cars, and upon finding out that that is what I would be testing, I'll be honest when I say that I was preparing to be underwhelmed. But no! Stop the presses! Despite a relatively harsh ride and unfortunate backache, the Sonic gave me hope for the class yet. The quirky looks of the will appeal to the student classes, while the saloon body will appeal to the corporations. It may not be the cheapest car out there, but there is still plenty in its favour.

Pros

Nippy engine and much improved styling. Excellent radio.

Cons

Stiff ride causes backache and unstable in motorway crosswinds.

Introduction & summary

Where do we start with the 2014 Chevrolet Sonic? Well, the first thing you need to know is that in its current guise it replaces the Aveo. Perhaps it is also worth pointing out that compact saloons, such as this, are my least favourite cars in the world. Despite the car you see pictured here, you will be pleased to know that the Sonic does also come in a far more appealing hatchback body style which means that this car is aimed at two very different markets.

2014 Chevrolet Sonic front side

Market the first revolves around the saloon body. While the Sonic sports a new front end, and has a far tidier back, the body is essentially identical to the Aveo, which means that this car will be a popular company car. Market the second is more aligned to the younger generation of drivers, the students, those who are looking for a quirky city car to drive around town, showing off to their peers while playing the bangin’ tunes at unreasonably high decibels.

The front end has a far angrier face than that of the Aveo, and certainly the headlamps are a much improved design feature. That being said, I’d like to know who decided to place the Chevrolet badge where they did. Aside from being nearly invisible, it appears that the designers were playing “Pin the tail on the donkey”, and never bothered to rectify it after the game.

The Sonic is best described as a young teenager who, after being ridiculed for being a softie for too long, has gone to great lengths to look tougher by joining a rugby team and getting a tattoo. Yes, it might look tougher, but it is still a teenager.

Comfort and practicality

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves; the Sonic is not competing with the likes of the Mercedes A-Class or BMW 1 Series. It is a cheap car which is fighting with the Nissan Tiida, Toyota Yaris, and Hyundai Accent. Therefore we have to be careful what we complain about. Chevrolet has done a neat job with the interior; the instrument panel is a revolution in itself. Everything is symmetrical and designed as such so that it can be easily produced in either left or right hand drive.

2014 Chevrolet Sonic interior

But don’t expect high-end materials, however. The door pulls, for example, are very cheap plastic, and when you yank them the entire door panel moves. Furthermore, the beige interior is made to look like fabric with an elegant weave, like the Aveo, but it is no such thing. The gear knob moves around too much, and I drove in constant fear that the steering wheel might come off in my hands. I also suffered quite a bit of backache, and while I’ll confess that I am not the fittest person in the world, I am only 29 and thus should not groan and wheeze like I did when disembarking.

Thankfully the Sonic is quite a practical car, with a decent-size boot and adequate leg room available for normal-size rear passengers. But then so are its rivals.

Features

This section of the road test report will be brief. Like its Eastern rivals, the Sonic is not packed full of toys; it is an economical package which has only the bare minimum to offer.

2014 Chevrolet Sonic front

The crowning standard feature is certainly the original instrument panel. The speedo is digitised and truncates the more conventional rev counter – apparently this has taken its inspiration from a motorcycle. It’s nice to see Chevrolet try something different. You will also find electric windows, electric mirrors, and a radio. The Bluetooth connectivity was excellent and, what will surely be popular with the youths, the speakers are very good. The back seats also fold flat, which is something that might only be handy once a year, but it’s nice to know it can do it.

I am told that GM’s MyLink system comes as standard on the hatchback LS model and this will surely be a winner with the students. Saloon-driving salesmen however will have to pay extra for system.

Performance, ride, and handling

Again, it is important to remember who this car is aimed at. I have driven the Sonic’s three main rivals – the Tiida, Yaris, and Accent – and it offers the best handling by far. The suspension, however, is arguably too firm. It certainly deals with aggressive speed bumps quite well, but like I said earlier, it gave me tremendous backache.

2014 Chevrolet Sonic side

Around the city streets the Sonic is an ideal car. It is light and effortless to drive and you really can feel that the engine is giving you everything it has. It doesn’t feel like it is being bogged down or restricted.

On the motorway, however, it is a different story. The Sonic is susceptible to crosswinds to the point where it becomes outright scary. After first experiencing this on the E12 going past Yas Marina, I took my wife’s car out immediately after – a Hyundai Accent, incidentally – to see if adverse weather was to blame; I didn’t feel a thing. Back in the Sonic it was near impossible to keep the car going in a straight line at highway speeds; it was not a windy day.

Cost

Chevrolet claims in their media press pack that the Sonic offers “strong acceleration and immediate feeling of performance at low-speed”, and I’d actually agree with that. Its 1.6 litre engine produces 115hp and 155Nm of torque, and that’s all you need for city zipping. It will also be cheap to run, as 7 litres will give 100km in distance.

2014 Chevrolet Sonic headlight

With prices ranging from AED 52,000 to AED 59,500, the Sonic is definitely pricier than the Hyundai Accent and Toyota Yaris, but it is expectedly cheaper than the Nissan Tiida.

Verdict

Before we decide which way Caesar Fullard’s thumb will swing, I feel that I should point out that, while road-testing the Sonic for four days, I was a magnet for disaster. In the time I had the Sonic I was nearly involved in nine collisions. Each and every time I was victim to bullying; other road-users cutting me up, trying to turn left from the middle lane across my prow, and tailgating at such close proximity that I could hear their radio. I had more emergency stops than opinions. I’ve never known anything like it.

2014 Chevrolet Sonic rear

And that’s the thing with like the Sonic; they are the teenagers of the road, constantly up against the bigger boys. Yes, Chevrolet sent the Sonic to rugby training and it has come back looking all angry and tough, but it is still an adolescent car that seems to attract the unwanted attention of bigger road-bullies.

That’s a shame since I actually quite liked it, apart from the agonising backache it caused me, of course. It is reasonably priced, fun to drive, and suitably powered for salesmen and students alike.

I would advise anyone buying this car to not take it above 120kp/h on exposed motorways, and also reassure you that the interior, despite being cheap, is probably the best out of its rivals. While the saloon body will appeal more to the older driver, the hatchback is far better looking and will certainly prove to be phat, trendy, and of course, down with the homies.

While I am not a personal fan of the compact-saloon style, the Sonic has done well to put a smile on my face. Caesar Fullard’s thumb points…up.

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