The turbocharged Sonic addressed our biggest complaints from our original review, namely the lack of power. Despite weighing almost 200 pounds more than the competition, the Chevy would be our choice in a drag race. What’s truly remarkable, though, is the transformative effect it had on the car’s overall character. With the 1.8, there’s a noticeable economy feel in the way the car accelerates, sounds, and drives. The addition of the 1.4-liter turbo has made this an engaging, not-quite-hot hatchback, that asks for you to drive it and have fun in it.
Throw it into a bend, and it just seems to go. It’s not the most graceful cornering experience you’ll ever have, tending to roll a bit too much, but this thing’s ability to carry speed around corners will put at least a small smile on your face. Where it’s different from the previous model is that it actually is tolerable to ride in when you aren’t going around turns. The suspension does a good job of soaking up road imperfections, although it’s hardly Ford Fiesta-like in its execution. There’s still too much vertical motion over the real rough patches.
If you asked us what the main difference between the 2011 Chevrolet Aveo and the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic was, we wouldn’t tell you about the new 1.8-liter four-pot or the new 1.4-liter turbo. We also wouldn’t mention the optional six-speed automatic transmission. Likewise, we wouldn’t be talking about the revised looks either. No, if asked what the biggest difference between these cars was, we’d be telling you that while the Aveo’s biggest selling point was its bargain-basement pricing, the Sonic sells it self thanks to its fun-to-drive and well-mannered driving character. You should only need one guess to figure out which approach we prefer.
The last generation of the Hyundai Accent was one of the cheapest new cars money could buy. You could pick up a three-door hatch for under $10,000. A fully loaded model rang in well below this new generation’s starting price of $14,195. So while this new Accent has lost the affordability of the old car, it has made some serious gains in the realms of comfort, style, equipment, refinement, and quality, without giving up too much of the slow-car-fast driving fun of the third-generation Accent.
Yes, it is a concept, but come on, it looks pretty much production ready. There is none of the concept car bling. Wheels are seventeen-inch alloys, not twenty-inch forged magnesium pieces that cost a small fortune. It has mirrors, not cameras. Even the body kit looks decidedly subdued. No, if there was a definition for “thinly veiled production car, ” this would be it.
Ford seems quite intent on making the most of social media, as it has launched yet another venture into the world of online marketing, with the Ford Octane Academy. The Academy combines a few lucky fans with Ford’s rally and drifting stars for a weekend of on- and off-road challenges.
Ford’s Fiesta and Mazda’s 2 have both done a great job getting the motoring community amped up about small cars, continuing a trend that the Honda Fit really jumpstarted a few years ago. These small cars are anything but simple, basic transportation, offering quite a lot of style, comfort, and driving involvement to go along with their reasonable price tags.
Today, as we wandered around the auto show in Detroit, we happened across Ken Block’s Ford Fiesta that he pilots in his latest unbelievable gymkhana video. We’re pretty sure the rubber (at the very least) has been replaced since then.