2013 Chevrolet Sonic
|Season||A Return to Form|
|Air Date||May 30, 2016|
So American...it's a European car!
INTRO by MR REGULAR 2013 Chevy Sonic Fanfiction. --- INTRO SONG by THE ROMAN Can't put my foot to the floor, I mean I could but why would I try to? --- MONOLOGUE by MR REGULAR Chevy runs so deep! So deep! SO DEEP! So deep, it's a European car. World cars are nothing new. They are vehicles made for polyhemispheric markets. The trick to selling them is making each market feel as if the car was made just for them. The Chevy Sonic and Amy Rose Unbirthing Fanart is powered by the GM Family 1, Gen 3 1.8-liter Ecotec LWE four-cylinder engine. It's an Opel design with the first iteration coming out in 1982. But the Gen 3 started in 2005. In fact, the 1.8 Ecotec comes in LUW and LWE flavors. The LWE is an LUW with secondary air injection so it meets California PZEV emissions standards. Pennsylvania does California emissions so new-er cars have California emissions systems- GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY. 138 horsepower at 6,300 RPM and 125 foot-pounds of torque at 3,800 RPM. It has a 6,500 RPM redline and on paper that sounds fine. Just fine. And it does feel acceptably peppy if your standard is a Chevy Chevette. It doesn't sound very nice at high RPM, it doesn't -want- to rev. The only reason we're up in this high rev range is because this is a manual. Anybody rollin' around with a Chevy Sonic has an automatic. The same motor is used in the Cruze and Sonic and variations of Opel and Vauxhall cars overseas. It has 10 1/2:1 compression, 8.5mm bore , 88.2mm stroke and it's ever so slightly under square. It has an iron block, aluminum heads, double cams with variable valve timing, coil-on-plug ignition, electronic throttle, electronic water thermostat... alright, piston oil cooling jets, cast iron crank, cast shield iron camshaft and a four-into-one... maninverter exhaust, which is a manifold-catalytic converter combination. This has a timing BELT and at 100,000 miles it'll cost you $1,000 to have it changed. I don't know what it is with Germany and timing belts instead of chains but there you go. However, between zero and 100,000 miles maintenance is lax. No need to change brake fluid, gear oil, coolant, spark plugs, accessory or timing belts. I mean, still check them periodically... 'specially those spark plugs. I mean the spark plugs are good but they may MATE to the aluminum cylinder head. The gearbox on this is a five-speed manual M26, and if you want to call it the Opel they use part number F17-5. It weighs seventy-and-a-half pounds and it was made at Opel Ween... Weein... Weenmd, Wine... W-I-E-N - Powerplant Factory in Vienna, Austria. It's an acceptable transmission. It moves gears. It's a lot less vague than the Saturn SL1 had. And it's about the same as the Cobalt. But the highway gearing is shorter so it turns more revs than the Cobalt. It doesn't like to be rushed too much. You can shift quickly but it's not a Honda bang-bang-bang-bang-bang through gears, no. Take your time. This car has traction control and there's no way to turn it off and in Pennsylvania winters good luck rocking it out of snow because the second these wheels start to slip for any reason, down comes the Fun Police. It's either cutting ignition or it's cutting fuel, it's probably cutting ignition, and the wheels won't turn. So good luck in winter. Ten airbags. Driver and passenger front, driver and passenger kneebags, shoulderbags for all four outboard positions and full curtain airbags on the left and on the right. This gives the Sonic a five-star crash test rating and added to the draw that this is a subcompact that doesn't fold itself into a T when T-boned by an Explorer. And hopefully OnStar works if I'm knocked out and they'll call an ambulance for me and be able to track me down by the onboard GPS. Built on the GM Gamma 2 platform, Gamma 1 was made by Opel but the Gamma 2 update was taken over by GM Korea. And this car is a pot pie of variations, Opels, Vauxhalls... I mean, we've been over this. It- Chevrolet small cars come from around the world now. But in the US I think it's only the Spark, Sonic AND TRAX-slash-Buick Encore which is just an Opel Monka- M-O-K-K-A... I can't keep up with these globally-marketed cars. The predecessor to the Sonic And Knuckles was the Aveo and it was considered such a tainted name from a marketing standpoint that they dropped the name for Sonic Spinball in the replacement car. It's still sold as the Aveo elsewhere in the world - I mean, the Aveo, that was just a Daewoo. But in the Americas and some places in the Middle East, it's still- it's still the Sonic Adventures. Or the Holden Barina in Australia. So. All that aside, all these purely mechanical numbers-based crap, why pick a Sonic Rush over other options? There's the Toyota Yaris, the Honda Fit, the Ford Fiesta, Versa Note, Rio and Accent. I don't really count the Fiat 500, Mazda 2 or Chevy Spark, they're too small and too daddy's money. And I don't count the VW Golf because that's just a barfing mess that lives in the R32's shadow and it's not a subcompact. And it's too daddy's money. It's not that all those cars are bad, it's just the Sonic Heroes had the right balance of what Matt was looking for. It has more horsepower, it's not fast but at least it's not a Chevette. And it has better highway safety rating, better gearing, GM is cheaper when it comes to sourcing the parts and it has more small-feature content that the other cars lack. And by small-feature content I mean the little things that make a car tolerable while commuting. Like variable intermittent windshield wipers- I don't even get this on my 2007 Honda Fit Sport. Now, I- Yes, I have intermittent windshield wipers but it's just one speed. I hate it when it misses rain, there's nothing I can do about it, I- just get the flick-and-a-miss thing every eighteen seconds. And interestingly enough, the blower motor is really quiet so you can hear your music and the dead pedal is pretty good so when you spend an entire life like this car in Philadelphia it becomes tolerable. Just like the Cobalt, Matt got this car from below market value. I can see why this car was a hard sell for a dealer. It's an odd color, it's stick-shift and a base model with windy windows. But it has power locks and remote entry. That's a hard sell. If it had been a silver car with an automatic transmission and power mirrors, the dealer would've sold it easily. Matt added cruise control to this one too, it has throttle-by-wire like any modern car these days so what he did was swapped the steering wheel with one with cruise buttons. And that tells the computer, "I have cruise." And it works. You do pay ripoff prices for doing that, though. Matt had to pay three hundred bucks for a steering wheel with cruise buttons. What's a regular wheel for a Sonic? Seventy-five bucks. GM knows what they're doing. But for Matt, this car hasn't been trouble-free so far. Last year, when the weather started getting warm, it was obvious that the air conditioning wasn't working well. Turns out the evaporator core, which is the component inside the car behind the dash that cools the air, was leaking refrigerant. Whole dashboard came out, took a week to fix. It was under warranty so a rental car was provided and that was that Malibu that I reviewed while DRUNK. He also had a problem with it driving kinda rough. Like the first-to-second gear transition. It was always herky-jerky. You could never get a smooth shift between 1 and 2 as you're coming back off the clutch. Turns out, that was because the plastic air intake pipe was deteriorating and splitting open. Because General Motors used cheap plastic in that area. That's the pipe that goes from the back of airbox to the intake, the- the 'clean' air pipe after the filter and mass airflow sensor. So too much air was getting in, making the car lean. The O2 sensor upstream senses it's lean and tells the computer to richen up the fuel. So the car's confused and it runs meh. The pipe's a $40 part replaced under warranty in February of this year and suddenly the car drives better. But last month the Check Engine light came on again and it felt way down on power. This time it was the catalytic converter-slash-manifold that failed, they're all the same part, the exhaust manifold and the catalytic converter are just one big thing. A car had 39,000 miles on it and the catalytic converter failed. Why? Likely because the air intake pipe leaked which lead to a richer mixture which lead to the increased catalytic temperatures and premature failure. That's Matt's thought on it. Fortunately, again, this was covered under warranty. The maninverter replacement would've cost about $1,800 at the dealership if Matt had to pay for it. And probably ruined by that $40 piece of plastic crap pipe. Ehhh. I hope this lasts a while for him. Matt's gonna be keeping an eye on that intake pipe. Besides all that, Matt really wanted to like the car. It does work well, it's useful, you can put the seats down and cram it full of stuff, and Matt likes the goofy motorcycle-like instrument cluster. But then I like motorcycles too. Mile per gallon? 35, hard to hit 40. It's, uh, maybe it's down to the gearing? Maybe if it had a large-displacement engine, the engine could turn slower on the highway? Hm? I dunno if people realize it but we are living in the era of the global car. I think the first time I heard that phrase mentioned was when the Ford Tempo was ending and the Ford Contour was coming in. It was '94? I was surprised to be in a car that was the same in America as it was in Europe. Our Ford Contour was your Ford Mondeo. But it wasn't a big seller in the United States. It was a weird size, too big for a compact and too small for a midsize. It was European large in the 90s and we weren't havin' it. Gas was cheap, everything was awesome and I want a big damn V6 in my damn Lumina LTZ. OR I WANT MY CAPRICE AND I WANT A V8. But sometime between gas getting expensive and the economy circling the drain, it happened. At least with smaller cars. Platforms are shared globally and engines are used all over the world. The same models might have a different badge on them in different continents but they're the same car. As long as you make the interior nice and comfortable then people are likely to be happy in a small car or a compact SUV. Matt's car is assembled in Michigan, on a German platform, updated by Korea and Australia with a German-design engine built in Mexico and a German transmission built in Austria. It's sold in North and South America, Asia, Europe, South Africa and the Middle East. To summarize, it's an Opel completely updated by Korea. And in the 2010s, finally, it works. It replaced the Daewoo-sourced Aveo that was universally panned. But oh, GM. You think you're so trendsetting with those world cars. Well I got a world car made by Ford half a century ago. They were there first. --- OUTRO SONG by THE ROMAN to the tune of HYMN OF THE FAYTH from FINAL FANTASY X Chevy Sonic Hey, a timing belt, How about that, Let's drive something else.