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Chevrolet Sonic to be sold here as Barina sedan as hot-hatch also comes to light

11 Jan 2011

HOLDEN has confirmed the Barina sedan unveiled as the Chevrolet Sonic at the Detroit auto show this week will come to Australia within 12 months of the forthcoming redesigned light-car hatchback range, which will be launched here in the second half of 2011.

Another global Chevrolet vehicle in which Holden has had a significant design influence, the Sonic emerged in Detroit with no fewer than 10 airbags and what former Holden chairman and now GM’s North American president Mark Reuss described as “the most comprehensive safety package in its segment” – including electronic stability control, rollover sensors, ABS brakes with EBD and brake assist.

He said it would also have a high level of dynamic ability with the front strut/rear torsion beam suspension tuned for the US market by Corvette chassis engineers.

“There’s a definite emphasis on damped control, coupled with near perfect isolation, and handling that some of the other entrants simply don’t consider,” said Mr Reuss, adding that the vehicle’s structure is “among the stiffest in the segment”.

The vehicle has been engineered with rear drum brakes and electric power steering as standard.

13 center imageLeft: Chevrolet Sonic sedan interior. Below: Chevrolet Sonic Z Spec concept.

The standard wheel size is 15-inch, although 16 and 17-inch wheel and tyre combinations will also be available.

It remains to be seen whether the Corvette suspension tune – and the high airbag count – extends to Australian-spec vehicles.

GM also used the Detroit show to unveil a hot-hatch version of the Sonic/Barina, dubbed the Z Spec concept and featuring a 103kW/200Nm 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine seen in the larger Cruze.

A sure-fire rival for the Volkswagen Polo GTI, the Z-rated Barina is likewise still to be confirmed for Australia, but GoAuto understands it is on the agenda and could arrive here during 2012.

While the Barina hatch sold in Australia will have 1.6-litre petrol power, the North American sedan and hatch will be offered as standard with a 101kW/168Nm 1.8-litre Ecotec four-cylinder petrol engine – also sourced from the Cruze – paired with a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

GM claims the Sonic sedan has the biggest boot capacity in its class – quoted at 397 litres – and better rear-seat roominess than the Ford Fiesta. Preliminary specifications show the five-seater sedan with 961mm in rear headroom, 881mm in rear legroom, 1347mm in rear shoulder room and 1310mm in rear hip room.

Respective front compartment measurements are 982mm (head), 1062mm (leg), 1358mm (shoulder) and 1306mm (hip).

As well as the high level of safety features, Chevrolet said the Sonic would be fitted with a host of equipment rarely seen in the segment, such as ‘remote start’ and heated front seats.

Sonic production begins later this year at GM’s Orion assembly plant in Michigan, while the Australian-spec Barina sedan will join the hatch at GM Daewoo’s plant in South Korea.

Chevrolet marketing vice-president Chris Perry claimed Chev was the only brand building a small car in the US and argued that the Sonic “will bring substance to the segment, with progressive styling, performance and value that will change perceptions of what a small car can be in America”.

“The all-new Chevrolet Sonic blends the practicality of a small car with the passion for driving that Chevrolet vehicles like the Corvette are known for,” said Mr Perry.

“Its combination of great design, fun driving experience and the latest connectivity features create a serious competitor with a fun spirit.”

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