Sonic small car boom

Chevro­let plans its fu­ture around its small cars, writes Paul Gover in Detroit

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

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.

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