It happened this morning. 10,000 miles. While rolling over the odometer isn't as special anymore now that it's a digital display instead of a physical dial, the occasion is no less significant. This morning I added a 5th digit to my cars mileage: the big 10,000 miles.
(DISCLAIMER: I like my car. A lot. This is going to be biased)
Those of you that frequent Oppo will know what car I'm talking about, but here's a reminder anyways: 2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS. I picked her up at the end of July of 2013. The Sonic is Chevy's competitor in the subcompact car game, in the same market as the Kia Rio, Mazda 2, and Ford Fiesta. So, what's it like, and how have my opinions changed after 10,000 miles?
The Sonic seems to have 'love it or hate it' looks. I personally love it, and the few exterior modifications I've done have really enhanced the looks in my opinion
Stock it's not exactly ugly. It's a small hatchback with an attractive shape. The rear doors have their handles hidden in an attempt to make it look like a 2 door and it works fairly well; I've had friends stand by me waiting for me to move the seat so they can climb in the back. The exposed projector headlights, inspired by a motorcycle, look awesome and really set the car apart. Tasteful chrome accents, an aggressive rear spoiler, bumper, front fascia, and 17 inch allow wheels distinguish the RS model well.
To spice things up a bit, I've painted the brake calipers red, covered the front and rear bowties with black vinyl, changed the wheel centercaps to feature a red bowtie, added yellow tint to the foglights, placed an RS badge on the front grill, and swapped the turbo badge for one that's been italicized. I've also added a new catback exhaust which adds a dual port tip.
Oh and of course, she rocks an OPPO sticker.
I love this cars interior. It looks good. The RS specific seats are supremely comfortable and look fantastic, the steering wheel is of the flat bottom variety (the same dimensions as the Camaro ZL1 steering wheel) and is wrapped in supple leather. The round air conditioning vents are a nice touch, and the motorcycle inspired gauge cluster is insanely cool.
There's cheap plastics everywhere but come on, it's a cheap car. I'm a proponent of touch points: the dash may be hard plastic, but how often do you really touch it? The places I touch in here are great. Soft leather on the steering wheel and seats, nice leather on the shift knob. The seats are some of the most comfortable I've ever sat on, even if they are a bit narrow and don't offer a heck of a lot of support. Oh, and it's got tons of space. There's a reason those of us who frequent Jalopnik love hatchbacks.
I do have two complaints though. Firstly, the arm rest is 100% useless. It's too short and narrow to be useable. I leave it up, and frankly have gotten used to not having it, it doesn't bother me at all. Second of all, the door. I like resting my arm on the belt line. Correction: I used to like resting my arm on the beltline. In the Sonic the belt line is hard plastic with a sharp corner, so it's not comfortable. I've switched to resting on the arm rest in the door, but here Chevy made a fatal mistake: it's hard plastic. In the Fiesta there's a pad at the back of the armrest, and Chevy really should have provided one. I've actually thought about making one, it's that disappointing
Stock, the 1.4L turbo ecotec isn't extremely fast. It's not slow, but at 138 hp and 148 lb feet of torque it isn't exactly face melting. I am not stock. I've installed a tune which adds about 30 units to each, which brings the Sonic to Abarth levels of power and ridiculous levels of torque.
0-60 probably happens in around 7 seconds. Maybe a little less, I don't know. What I do know is the way it delivers power is always giggle inducing. At about 3000 RPM you hit the boost threshold and get thrown back in your seat. If it's a little wet, when the power comes on the wheels will spin. Drive aggressively and the wheels will chirp into second. Around 4500-5000 RPM it develops 23 pounds of boost, complete with some loud intake noise thanks to my DDMWorks intake. Let off here and you get a resounding blast of blow off noise. It's maniacal.
The RS has lower and stiffer suspension than other Sonics, which isn't really enough. It rolls a bit, but handles surprisingly well. It's no BRZ or Fiesta ST, but it's certainly better than the standard Sonic. Steering feels good, it's very direct and has decent feel, and the power steering logic gives a nice solid feel.
The RS adds disk brakes all around. That's a lot of stopping power for a lightweight hatchback. I've never not stopped.
Stiff suspension means stiff ride. The seats are really comfortable, so they soften the blow a bit, but the ride is average. It doesn't bother me, and I've been fine on multiple 3 hour trips, but it's no Lexus.
This is the cars achilles heel. The gearbox is fine, actually better than fine, but it could use some improvement. The RS has short ratios for fun, and while it's plenty of fun it's too much. Driving around town 1st gear is totally useless, it's so ridiculously short. That would be okay if the gear throws were like a Miata's, but they are a bit long. Shifts are fairly crisp, but when it's cold the shifts just feel...off. Crunchy is a word I want to use. I've also had issues where occasionally I hit the 'gates' and get stuck between gears, but that's rare and probably my fault. A short shifter is in my future.
The only reason this isn't a 10 is because the Abarth exists. I'm not stock, I have a ZZPerformance catback exhaust and a DDMworks intake. The exhaust gives her a nice throaty engine note, and the intake provides much turbo noise. Wow. Such turbo. So fun. Many giggle
The radio sounds fantastic as well
The Sonic gets a toned down MyLink touchscreen system, and it's great. Seriously, I think it's one of the best infotainment systems in the biz. Simple, easy to use, easy to see, and it works. It works well. If you have an iPhone you're in for a treat: Siri EyesFree is fantastic. I get voice commands through my phone and can do anything from sending texts to asking who won Super Bowl XXII. The only negative to Siri eyes free is it's a little slow to activate, it takes a few seconds to actually 'dong dong'.
Smartphone link is a great feature. If you plug your phone into the car you can pull up a few apps through the touchscreen that work fantastically. Pandora is great, BringGo works well for nav. I do wish that the nav was built in rather than requiring a phone, but honestly I don't even have BringGo installed anymore and I don't miss it.
I paid $20,000 for this car and I've certainly gotten my money's worth. My upgrades total ~$1000, and they've really improved the car dramatically. Plus I average about 28 mpg in suburban driving, nothing to complain about there
Engine: 1.4L Turbo Ecotec
Power: ~160 HP, 180 lb-ft torque
Transmission: 6 speed manuel
0-60: Feels fast
Top Speed: I've done 115
Weight: 2900 pounds or so
Seating: 4 comfortably, 5 if you need it
MPG: Overall average is ~28mpg, it'll hit mid 30s on the highway.
MSRP: $22,000ish. Chevy has been offering crazy incentives lately, so you could get one for a good price I'm sure.