Sonic small car boom
Chevrolet plans its future around its small cars, writes Paul Gover in Detroit
ASONIC boom in the US could produce a significant showroom echo in Australia. Sonic is the new name chosen for the Holden Barina in the US, and the four-door sedan was unveiled at the Detroit motor show to highlight a production switch to an American factory.
It’s a sign that small cars will be big business in the US inside five years, as well as proof that General Motors is going global at the bottom end of the business.
Sonic will not be used as a name in Australia, with the Barina badge to continue on both the new sedan and hatch, a pairing that will sit above the existing Barina Spark.
The Barina hatch was first displayed at the Paris motor show last year, and the sedan— as the Sonic— starred in Detroit with looks that point to a more upmarket approach to GM’s small cars.
‘‘Sonic is a statement of what can be expected of this foundational brand in years to come,’’ says Chevrolet head — and former Holden boss — Mark Reuss, who unveiled the car as part of Chevy’s 100th birthday celebrations.
That approach will be reflected in the price, as the new Barina pair will have a $15,000-ish starting sticker, well up from the basic Barina Spark at $12,490.
‘‘This is Barina, and the smaller version is Barina Spark,’’ GM Holden spokesman Jonathan Rose says.
‘‘We’re getting the sedan and hatch. The hatch will be later this year, around October, and the sedan about this time next year.
‘‘The cars are coming from Korea. The US will build theirs locally.’’
There is some impressive stuff in the Spark — yet to be confirmed for Barina — including 10 airbags and a sports-suspension system tuned by the team behind Chevrolet’s blaster car, the Corvette.
Both cars will come with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine and a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes, un- like the Spark, which is currently only sold as a manual.
GM claims more rear-seat space than the Ford Fiesta and best-in-class boot space for the Barina sedan, as well as features such as Bluetooth USB connectivity, which are essential for the youth of today.
Boom time: former Holden boss Mark Reuss introduces the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic four-door sedan in Detroit.