'Warm hatch' purrs

Bobby Cheetham

WHEN is a hot hatch not a hot hatch? General Motors South Africa (GMSA) launched their new Chevrolet Sonic RS at Arniston in the Western Cape last week and were at pains to point out it wasn't a "hot" performance model.

Okay – so we won't call it a hot hatch but rather a "warm hatch".

The new halo model sports turbocharged performance and up-rated handling, along with a high level of specification and enhanced design elements for a uniquely exciting driving experience, in other words, it's a "warm hatch", according to them!

"The RS moniker forms the first level of performance-oriented nomenclature in the Chevrolet product portfolio," Chevrolet brand manager at GMSA, Tim Hendon says.

Under the bonnet lurks a 1.4-litre turbo-charged Ecotec petrol engine, pumping out 103kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4000rpm.

Power is fed to the front wheels through a slick six-speed manual gearbox with close ratios delivering sporty performance.

For those who get their jollies from the sound of a throaty exhaust, the Sonic RS does not disappoint, albeit with a purr rather than a roar!

The turbo-charged performance figures include a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 9.5 seconds and top speed of 197km/h.

Still not a hot hatch?

The new RS sips just 6.6-litres per 100km on the combined average cycle, with carbon emissions of 155g/km to match.

Then there is the tuned suspension in the "warm hatch", which takes shape in the form of a MacPherson strut design up front and multi-link setup at the rear, which allows for improved handling especially under sportier conditions.

Add to this is a lower ride height with stiffer suspension and performance-tuned dampers to deliver a communicative and firm-yet-comfortable ride.

On the road the RS is a little gem.

Handling and performance are good and after a 200km drive you get out of the car feeling relaxed and ready for another chance to drive the "warm hatch".

We liked the new Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system but found it hard to operate.

A 12-year-old will be able to master the system in minutes – wrinklies will take a bit longer!

Comprising a host of smart features, the MyLink system is moving Chevrolet vehicles forward in the in-car technology stakes.

MyLink is standard on the new Sonic RS and features as an optional extra on 2014 Sonic LS models, giving the Sonic range a competitive edge in the B-segment.

THE Sonic RS retails for R225300 and is available as standard with a five-year/ 120000km warranty and a three-year/ 60000km service plan linked to service intervals of 15000km.