One of the advantages of being a global corporation is the ability to take advantage of a broader array of talent when it comes to design and engineering. Asian car companies in particular have long been known for their ability to do a small car really well—American car companies on the other hand, not so much. Daewoo is one such Asian company, and thanks to its affiliation with the Korean concern, Chevrolet has long relied upon them to supply subcompact models for domestic consumption.

The latest Daewoo-verlet is the second generation Chevrolet Aveo (a nameplate still in use in other parts of the world), which is now known in North America, the Middle East, Chile, Israel, Japan, Mexico, and South Africa as the Chevrolet Sonic. Universally agreed upon as one of the standouts in the segment, the Chevrolet Sonic delivers sharp handling, a comfortable ride, a spacious interior and good cargo space.

Further, the Chevrolet Sonic is a pretty good-looking too. When it comes to delivering value for the amount paid, the Sonic is a pretty solid contender in a very crowded segment of the marketplace. Chevrolet’s product team took great care to ensure the Sonic imparts a “premium” feeling from behind the wheel. While the materials employed are somewhat reflective of the car’s price point, the Sonic’s design, fit and finish are quite good for a car in this class.

The Chevrolet Sonic’s base engine is a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder producing 138 horsepower and 125 ft-lbs of torque. The bigger (in output—not size) engine option is a 1.4-liter, turbocharged four cylinder, which also produces 138 horsepower. However, it makes an 10 additional ft-lbs of torque—for a total of 148. The 1.8-liter engine gets a five-speed manual transmission as standard equipment, while the 1.4-liter engine gets a six-speed manual. Either engine can be paired with the optional six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive completes the powertrain. To all of the above, the Sporty Sonic LS adds four-wheel disc brakes, a more aggressive suspension system, and seventeen-inch wheels to replace the standard 15-inch set.

Offered as a sedan or a four-door hatchback, the Sonic has a healthy array of standard features; these include automatic headlights, blind-spot mirrors, air conditioning, Bluetooth telephony, OnStar, and an auxiliary audio input. Optional features include heated seats, iPod connectivity, Chevrolet’s MyLink telematics system featuring a touchscreen, and Bluetooth audio streaming. A carryover from the Aveo is the motorcycle-inspired gauge cluster, which serves as the centerpiece of the interior.