After already showing the auto industry that it could build a competitive subcompact car with top-notch fuel-efficiency ratings, Chevrolet is now preparing to show off in the hot-hatch segment with the same car: The 2013 Chevy Sonic RS, relying on the same turbocharged I4 that brings 40 mpg to the most economical Sonic trim, will go on sale later this year with a price tag that starts at $20,995. That MSRP includes both destination charges and a six-speed manual transmission; stepping up to the six-speed automatic adds $1,285 to the car’s bottom line.
Now, as mentioned, the Sonic RS leaves well enough alone beneath the hood, relying on the proven 1.4-liter Ecotec I4 that’s been turbocharged to deliver 138 hp and 148 lb.-ft. of torque. It may not seem like much in the way of output at first glance, but rivals like the Ford Fiesta are getting by with just 120 hp/112 lb.-ft. of torque, and even the Hyundai Accent, which offers a matching 138 horses, is at a significant 25 lb.-ft. disadvantage in the torque department.
The Sonic RS also gains a thoroughly revised suspension, with performance-tuned dampers and a lowered ride height, along with four-wheel disc brakes.
2013 Chevy Sonic RS: Features Recap
The 2013 Chevy Sonic RS also distinguishes itself with an aggressive appearance update that includes an exclusive “RS” grille, embedded in a refreshed front fascia that also carries redesigned fog lights, as well as an upgraded rear fascia, five-spoke 17-inch wheels, a unique mirror-cap finish, and a revised interior with leather seating surfaces set off by red RS accents. Aluminum sport pedals and a racing-style, flat-bottomed steering wheel add a further dash of athleticism.
A hi-po infotainment system is standard too. Chevrolet’s MyLink technology with a seven-inch color touchscreen provides voice-control functionality for Bluetooth hands-free calling; access to smartphone playlists, video and contact info; integrated Pandora and Stitcher interfaces; and, in the near-term future, a full-function navigation system. To further assist Sonic owners, the RS features a wide array of safety measures, including 10 airbags and GM’s StabiliTrak electronic stability control system.
Another class-exclusive selling point for the Sonic is the fact that it’s the only subcompact offered in America that’s also built here, at GM’s Lake Orion (Mich.) Assembly Center. The Sonic RS is slated to start rolling down the line in October, then reach Chevy dealerships across the country before the end of the year.