2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Playing Golf
January 27, 2012
As small cars go, my preference has always been for the Volkswagen Golf.
Ive tried to be a Honda Civic guy. Ive also always taken an interest in small practical cars from strange, out of the way places. You know, like Croatia. Italian-style small cars are clever, even when theyre being built in Japan like the Suzuki Swift. Ive even tried to like a German-designed Opel built in South Korea and sold as a Pontiac.
But really I like the VW Golf. So when I say that the Chevy Sonic is pretty much like a VW Golf, its kind of a big thing for me. Its as if the GM guys finally decided to quit fooling around with trying to prove how clever they are and just, what the heck, built a Golf.
The Sonic has long-travel, compliant suspension just like a Golf, and the car rolls a lot in the corners yet never loses touch with the pavement just like a Golf. The Sonic has an engine with a very broad and flexible powerband and very (very) tall gearing just like a Golf. The manual transmission has a smooth, long-throw shift action just like a Golf. The Sonic steers like a Golf and has a certain compatibility in the way all the driving controls work together just like a Golf.
This Sonic hatchback even looks like a Golf, that is if you scrunch up your eyes real good and ignore the Chevy Sonic front end and the wacky, too-clever rear window shape that makes the whole car look like a Golf thats has been beamed up by the transporter with not entirely perfect duplication. And when youre sitting in the Sonic, you also feel like youre in a Golf, except all the architecture has been moved around so you can tell that its a sedan trying to be a Golf. Then again, the Sonics interior fits big people just like a Golf and the interior trim is actually way, way nicer than a Golf.
So despite being deeply, deeply skeptical of a car that has a heritage that includes the relentless crumminess of the Chevy Cavalier and the scary flimsiness of the Daewoo Lanos, and is still for all intents and purposes a German-designed Opel thats been engineered in Korea and then built in a former Pontiac plant in Michigan, I really like this car.
Driving the Chevy Sonic reminds me of driving a VW Golf, and I think thats a good thing.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 2,222 miles