2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS Road Test and Review: Driving Impressions
I like this 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, and I think the Sonic is a better application for it than the larger and more popular Cruze. It supplies just enough power to ensure that the Sonic RS doesn’t become a rolling traffic cone when leading the pack away from an intersection, combined with satisfying mid-range thrust.
That said, the 6-speed manual gearbox is often displeasing, exhibiting vague, long throws. I found it consistently difficult to find 5th gear, and tried with little success to improve clutch modulation between 1st and 2nd gears. I would gladly trade the Sonic RS model’s sport suspension components for an improved gearbox.
Such a statement is easier to make when you understand that the Sonic RS model’s sport suspension doesn’t really feel sporty. The suspension has plenty of compliance dialed in, and it rolls to some degree when tossing the Sonic into turns, but neither trait is necessarily a negative because the ride quality is impressive and the extra lean in corners helps to keep the driver well within the meager level of stick supplied by the P205/50R17 Hankook Optimo tires.
On positive notes, the tires are quiet and communicative about approaching handling limits, the 4-wheel-disc brakes are effective, and the electric steering offers perfect levels of effort and response.
Around town, the Sonic RS is at its best, soaking up pavement irregularities, squirting through traffic, and jauntily whipping into parking slots. On a favorite back road, the car displays competency but lacks connectedness, feeling like it could be giving more with bigger wheels, better tires, a tauter suspension, and a decent gearbox. On the highway, I was regularly surprised to discover how slow I was going. That’s right. I said slow. For whatever reason, the Sonic doesn’t encourage speed, which is just as well.
Basically, the Sonic RS looks faster than it is, and doesn’t really encourage speedy driving, which is advisable for what is likely to be a youthful owner base already paying fairly high insurance premiums.