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.