By Emme Hall.
The hot hatch. You see them on the streets, usually driven by those crazy kids with their turbo chargers and their cell phones and their FaceSpaces. Well, if you like the look of a hatch, but prefer something that’s warm rather than scorching, take a look at our Autocomparo of the day: the 2013 Chevy Sonic LTZ and the 2013 Ford Fiesta Titanium.
The standard engine on the Chevy Sonic is a 1.8L 4 banger, pushing out 138 horses and 125 lb/ft of torque. This front wheel drive car has a five speed manual transmission as standard fare, but a six-speed automatic is optional for those not willing to row their own gears. 60 mph comes in 8.4 seconds and the little hatch gets an EPA fuel rating of 26 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 30 mpg combined with the manual. Numbers drop a bit with the automatic to 25/35/28.
For those who want to sample how the kids live with their cell phones and FaceSpaces, the LTZ has an optional 1.4L 4-cylinder turbo. Horsepower is the same but torque increases to 148 lb/ft. A six-speed manual is standard, but again a six speed automatic is also available. 0-60 mph comes in just under 8 seconds with the manual and fuel economy is better than in the natural aspirated engine: 29/40/33 with the manual and 27/37/31 with the automatic.
The Chevy Sonic LTZ has a good array of standard equipment, including power accessories, keyless entry, iPod integration, Bluetooth, steering wheel controls, air conditioning, OnStar, cruise control, a leather wrapped steering wheel, satellite radio, 17” alloy wheels, fog lamps, heated front seats, a touch screen interface, and navigation. A sunroof is optional.
Out on the road the Sonic is a fun ride. It hits the sweet spot of being firm enough to toss around a bit in the corners, while not being uncomfortable or overly harsh. Steering is light at slow speeds but weights up nicely at speed. Cabin noise is kept to a minimum both on the street and on the highway. The turbo is especially fun off the line, due to the increase in torque, but throttle response could be quicker.
The 2013 Ford Fiesta comes with a 1.6L 4-cylinder engine good for 120 horsepower and 112 lb/ft of torque. Power is put to the front wheels via the standard five-speed manual but you can get a six speed automatic if that’s your bag. The manual will scoot you to 60 in 9.5 seconds, but the automatic will take you over a second longer, at 10.6 seconds. Fuel economy is the same, regardless of your transmission choice: 29 mpg in the city, 39 mpg on the highway, and 33 mpg combined.
The top of the line Fiesta Titanium comes standard with power accessories, air conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry and ignition, iPod integration, Bluetooth, 16” alloy wheels, heated front seats, satellite radio, ambient lighting, voice control, LED running lights, and leather upholstery. A sunroof is optional and there are a few appearance packages to choose from.
Once you get behind the wheel, it is obvious that the Fiesta is one of the standouts in its class. Sure, you’re not going to get much oomph from the small numbers, but what it’s got comes in early, making this car great in the city. Steering is quite responsive and the finely tuned suspension allows you to just point and shoot without sacrificing comfort.
This is a tough one, folks. The 2013 Chevy Sonic LTZ hatchback starts at $17,850, but if we’re just looking at the naturally aspirated engines, I think I would shell out the additional coin for the 2013 Ford Fiesta Titanium, starting at $18,200. The Ford Fiesta is just more fun in the manual and the mpgs are slightly better. But if the turbo Sonic is in the mix, it’s worth the extra $700 and the peppier torque would push it past the non-turbo Fiesta. Now how do I sign up for FaceSpace?