If we needed another proof of GM’s seriousness to work the subcompact market, we find it in the recent announcement that 2012 Chevy Sonic production began this week in suburban Detroit. The cars will be in dealerships in October.
This is important for several reasons. One, it’s going to be competitive price-wise with the Ford Fiesta and the Honda Fit—and with newer cars like the 2012 Nissan Versa and 2012 Hyundai Accent. Second, it seems to be quicker, better-handling and better-built than most of the above, though we need to wait for more comparisons.
Third, it’s a great improvement on its predecessor, the Aveo, a pretty crummy car by all reports, including mine. Fourth, it’s being produced in the U.S., not South Korea, because of unique wage-hour concessions made by the UAW.
The car comes in hatchback (right) or sedan (top of story) configurations, which look very different and will appeal to different kinds of buyers. It uses the Cruze engine in two 138-hp options: a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder with 125 lb-ft of torque, or a 1.4-liter turbo with 148 lb-ft. Each comes with either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic.
Drivers like its feel and handling, and it’s hard to imagine getting much better value for MSRPs of $14,495 (the sedan) and $15,395 (the hatch) while achieving 40 mpg highway mileage. Prices include destination charge, air conditioning, power locks, remote keyless entry and 15-inch alloys. The turbo upgrade costs only $700 (available in two higher trim levels only; adding it would bring the base turbo sedan price up to $16,395 and the base turbo hatch to $17,195).
The fact that the Sonic is now American-made could and should give GM a promotional edge. Do you agree?