By Staff Contributor.
Are you ready for bite-size automotive fun? American car buyers have typically never offered up much love for compact cars, never mind sub-compacts. That’s why American automakers never put much effort into building quality small cars. Times are changing though, and the desire for fuel efficiency and fine features is growing. Automakers pay attention, and there are a whole slew of new little machines available on dealer lots across the country.
Case in point, both Chevrolet and Ford now offer vehicles for the B-segment set. Chevy toes the line with the Sonic while Ford brings the Fiesta to the party. Proving that you can have fun with less power, we’re taking a look at the Sonic RS and the Fiesta Titanium. Yes, we know the Fiesta ST is now available, but that’s bringing a gun to a slap fight.
Each vehicle runs just 159 inches in length. OK, fine, the Ford Fiesta gains an extra 0.7 of an inch over the Bow Tie-branded machine. Despite that, Ford managed to keep the Fiesta slim with a 2,537-pound curb weight. The 2013 Chevrolet Sonic, by comparison, is a fairly portly 2,811 pounds. Yes, that’s a relative term, but it’s heavy for such a small car. The engines don’t have to work too hard though because anything under 3,000 pounds is great these days.
Chevrolet has fitted the Sonic RS with a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder unit that produces 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox handles power distribution. The Fiesta makes due with a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder that is good for 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque. It’s down a gear here, with a five-speed manual cog swapper. Despite the power deficit, the Fiesta feels quicker off the line and has a delightful chassis that enjoys twisty roads. The gearbox shifts more smoothly as well. Still, the Sonic is no chump and the RS badge signifies additional bracing underneath. This translates into a tiny machine that stays flat in corners and truly enjoys being hustled through the canyons.
Inside, each vehicle is nicely appointed especially for vehicles in this segment. The Chevrolet Sonic offers up a very crisp centrally mounted screen that relays all the information you’ll need while also pairing effortlessly with my smartphone. The 2013 Ford Fiesta fits the Fiesta with the Sync system, which should work better than it actually does. We don’t have a ton of love for the system but it’s continually being improved and the next generation should be a winner.
Yes, you can get each car for less than the ones we are testing here. Still, these are nicely outfitted examples, and they still don’t cost a fortune. The Sonic RS starts at $20,185 while the Fiesta Titanium will run you at least $18,800. No matter which you choose, you will wind up with a great little car, and that’s a testament to the fact that automakers really do realize that small cars don’t need to be poorly built cheap cars. Still, if it were our money on the line? We’d probably wind up taking the Ford Fiesta because of its wonderful chassis. Of course, we’d spend a few more bucks and get the ST, because we hear it’s mind-blowingly good.