Chevrolet Aveo / Sonic


Debut: 2011
Maker: General Motors
Predecessor: Daewoo Kalos / Chevrolet Aveo Mk1


 Published on 1 Jun 2011 All rights reserved. 


Daewoo is dead, so are Matiz, Kalos, Lacetti and Tosca. In January this year, General Motors renamed its Korean subsidiary from GM Daewoo to GM Korea, cutting the last tie with Daewoo group. Within a few months, all cars rolled off the production line had switched to Chevrolet badges. Now Chevrolet finally becomes a global brand, something no one could imagine just 5 years ago. Nevertheless, the rise of Chevrolet does not mean the fall of the Korean subsidiary. On the contrary, GM Korea is increasingly important to GM. Last year, it supplied more than 1.7 million Chevrolet-badged cars and small SUVs to the rest of the world, contributing to 40 percent of the American brand's total sales. Moreover, it takes the lead of developing GM's global small car platform, Gamma II. The first fruit is Chevrolet Spark. The second is this one, Chevrolet Aveo.

The Aveo is otherwise known as Sonic in the USA market. GM originally wanted to harmonize its name globally. This is evident from the fact that the earliest US press releases used the Aveo name. However, because the last generation Aveo did not give American a fond memory, marketing eventually drove to adopt a new name, Sonic. I wonder why other markets have no such concern.



As before, the Aveo is a B-segment vehicle available in two body forms, 5-door hatchback and 4-door sedan. Both get a generous wheelbase of 2525 mm, longer than its key rivals Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit (Jazz) and Volkswagen Polo. Not only wheelbase, the car has grown in all dimensions, making it one of the roomiest cars in class. Cheap Korean production cost always bring us more metal for money.

The underpinning Gamma II platform brings no surprises. It follows the class norm to adopt MacPheson struts up front, torsion-beam suspension at the rear, electric power steering and increased use of high-strength steel in the monocoque. Equipment is up to date. Standard features include stability control, cruise control, 6 air bags (10 for America !), iPod connectivity, automatic engine stop and start, 6-speed automatic gearbox… which mean quite complete.



Styling is quite satisfying too. The Korean design looks bold and sporty, thanks to large wheel arches, rising waistlines, a prominent grille and a heavily sculpted bonnet. Quad-round headlights give it an unusual character and reminds me the earlier BMW designs. The hatchback adopts "hidden" rear doors, a fashionable feature these days. Unfortunately, they don't look quite hidden, blame to the prominent door frame and a large piece of black plastic that holds the door handle. Still, the hatchback is better looking than the slightly conservative sedan. Unless you really need those 506 liters of boot and the rear seats simultaneously, I would recommend the hatchback.

In the cabin, you get enough space for four six-footers, or 5 at a squeeze. The ambience at the rear seats is somewhat claustrophobic due to the high waist line, though it's not uncommon in modern cars. Up front, the driver is served with a steering wheel that is adjustable for reach and rake, so finding a comfortable driving position is easy. As in Spark, facing the driver is a small, motorcycle-inspired instrument binnacle. It challenges human brains by incorporating an analogue rev counter and a digital speedometer, so every time you turn your vision from one to another you will need a while to recalibrate your mind before understanding the readings. How silly it is ! Equally unremarkable is the lack of quality feel, as the whole dashboard and door panels are made of shinny hard plastic that is prone to scratch. It falls a long way behind Polo and Fiesta. In contrast, the switchgears on center console look and feel much better, as many of them come from Opel Astra and Insignia.


Aimed as a global product, the Aveo is offered with a variety of powertrains. Most markets get a trio of small Ecotec engines engineered by Opel. They displace 1.2, 1.4 or 1.6 liters and produce 86hp, 100hp and 115hp respectively. All are equipped with DOHC 16 valves and dual continuous VVT. Despite this, they are neither particularly punchy nor quiet, just about class average. In Europe, the petrol is supplemented with Fiat's 1.3-liter Multijet turbo diesel with either 75hp or 95hp. In the United States, more powerful engines are used instead: 1.8-liter Ecotec with 140hp and 123 lbft and 1.4-liter turbo with the same horsepower but 148 lbft of torque from as low as 1850 rpm. Both are taken straight from the larger Chevrolet Cruze, so the Sonic should offer class-leading performance, especially in the form of 1.4T with 6-speed manual gearbox. A pity it has no intention to offer a hot hatch version like Ford Fiesta ST or VW Polo GTI.



Just like most other Chevrolets built by GM Korea, the Aveo / Sonic is not exactly a driver's car. Dynamically it is only average. Which is to say its handling, no matter in terms of steering, agility, body control and resistance to understeer, is no match with Fiesta or Polo. But it's not too bad either. The car is designed to be easy to drive, with light steering, smooth gearchange and well-weighted controls. The roomy cabin, large doors and good visibility add to its easy-going manner. Unless on poor roads, ride quality is generally smooth. Refinement at motorway cruising is okay provided you can skip the least powerful engine.

Rivals from Ford, Volkswagen and Honda are still some way better than the latest challenger from GM. However, taking price and equipment into the equation, the latter is still worth considering, at least to those putting driving dynamics on low priority. 
Verdict: 
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Aveo 1.4
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4039 / 1735 / 1517 mm
2525 mm
Inline-4
1398 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
-
-
100 hp
96 lbft
5-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
195/55R16
1083 kg
110 mph (c)
11.5 (est)
-
Aveo 1.6
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4039 / 1735 / 1517 mm
2525 mm
Inline-4
1598 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
-
-
115 hp
114 lbft
5-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
195/55R16
1147 kg
117 mph (c)
10.5 (est)
-
Sonic RS
2012
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4039 / 1735 / 1506 mm
2525 mm
Inline-4
1398 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
Turbo
-
140 hp
148 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
205/50R17
1279 kg
127 mph (est)
8.1*
24.6*




Performance tested by: *C&D





AutoZine Rating
Click images for latest rating and comparison with rivals:

Aveo / Sonic

    Copyright© 1997-2013 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine