IOL Motoring Staff
Let's not get confused here. The new Chevrolet Sonic RS is not a hot hatch in the same vein as the Polo GTI or Fiesta ST. Yet we could certainly get away with calling this a rather 'warm' hatch and one that bridges the gap between the commuter clan and the real hot stuff.
Of course, the big draw card here is the price. Hitting the market at R225 300, the Sonic RS costs R35 000 less than a Fiesta RS, undercuts the Peugeot 208 GTI by R55 000 and the Polo GTI by almost R70 000.
Sure, it doesn't come close to matching their heady power outputs, but the Sonic certainly rises above the mediocre with its 1.4-litre Ecotec turbopetrol, which is credited with 103kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4000rpm and mated to a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox.
That's enough, says Chevrolet, to get the little RS from 0-100km/h in 9.5 seconds and on to a top end of 197km/h. Turn your focus to feather footing, however, and the RS claims to sip just 6.6 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.
In keeping with its racy role in life, the RS comes with a modified exhaust system that aims to provide aural stimulation while still maintaining “comfortable” noise levels in the cabin.
What's more, the suspension has been lowered while stiffer, performance-tuned shocks aim to deliver a “firm-yet-comfortable” ride.
Not only does it hug the ground, but RS makes its presence known on the street with gunmetal-painted 17-inch alloys, a bolder front bumper, chunky side skirts, new roof spoiler and an accented rear diffuser that houses a large trapezoidal exhaust tip.
The sporty treats continue in the cabin in the form of a flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminium pedals, various red and piano black finishes and seats covered in a combination of leather and ribbed suede. Let's not forget the RS emblems on the seats and steering wheel.
Another bonus feature is the MyLink infotainment system, operated via a seven-inch touch-screen. Besides full smart-phone integration, MyLink allows owners to access audio streaming via Bluetooth and even play videos and view pictures, although thankfully it'll only allow the latter when the vehicle is stationary.
MyLink is fitted as standard to the RS, along with cruise control, multi-function steering wheel, traction control and four airbags.
In the end, the warm performance and R225 300 price (which in cludes a three-year/60 000km service plan) could make this something of a Goldilocks hatch.