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A month after its Aveo-axing name change, the all-new 2012 Chevrolet Sonic made its public debut in Detroit. On sale this fall in both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback configurations, Chevy says this space-efficient subcompact based on GM's sophisticated "global small car" platform will deliver class-leading people and cargo space to match its aggressive styling, sporty personality and an impressive roster of standard and optional features. Aimed at youthful buyers who might be considering alternatives like the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit, the Chevy Sonic also will offer the latest in driver-connectivity systems as well as 10 standard airbags.

>See more new cars unveiled at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show

While the Sonic five-door's bodywork travels a higher-profile path than the more conventional skin on its sedan sibling, both are crisply rendered and share Chevy's signature dual-element grilles, have motorcycle-inspired headlamp/taillamp treatments and wide-track/short-overhang stances. Their nicely finished cabins pick up on that two-wheel influence with a unique main instrument cluster that features a large, round analog tachometer set within an asymmetrical LCD readout matched with a prominent digital speedometer display.

The Sonic's well-formed front buckets offer optional heating and are paired with a split-folding rear bench. Its standard OnStar system will come with six months of Turn-by-Turn navigation and XM Satellite Radio, USB, Bluetooth, and a MyChevrolet mobile application with OnStar MyLink vehicle connectivity also will be available.

To ensure enthusiastic straight-line performance, Chevy opted to fit the new 2012 Sonic with same powertrains available in the larger Cruze model, which is roughly 500 pounds heavier. The base engine will be a naturally aspirated 1.8-liter Ecotec inline-four that makes 135 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of peak torque and can be paired with either a five-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic transmission. The step-up alternative is the 1.4-liter turbocharged Ecotec that carries 138/148 output ratings, with the latter being on hand from 1,850-4,900 rpm. It gets backed by a standard six-speed manual gearbox.

On the handling front, the Sonic matches an ultra-stiff unit body with MacPherson struts up front and a modified torsion beam rear axle. Chevy tapped a group of Corvette engineers to fine tune the setup in a way that would endow the Sonic with outstanding control and agility while maintaining impressive ride comfort. The car's standard electronic power steering also features a wear compensator that continually adjusts the system interaction with the steering gear to maintain a precise feel regardless of the total mileage that's been racked up. Stopping power is provided by ABS disc brakes with brake force distribution and the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic will offer the choice of 15-inch steel wheels or 15/16/17-inch alloy rims, depending on trim level.

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