Mike Stevens | Jan 10, 2011

Chevrolet's new Sonic hatch and sedan models have at last made their US market debut this week, bringing its one step closer to its Australian launch as the new 2012 Holden Barina.

Known in the US market until recently as the Chevrolet Aveo, the new Barina is expected to go on sale in Australia, replacing the current fifth-generation Barina - at which time it will be nearly six years old.

Targeting the Ford Fiesta and the new Hyundai Elantra - as it will in Australia - the Sonic is powered by a 1.8 litre four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

Power figures have not been released, although its output will likely be greater than the 76kW and 145Nm of the current Barina's 1.6 litre engine.

A turbocharged 1.4 litre engine will also be available, producing 103kW - which GM points out is 14kW greater than the Ford's range-topping 89kW Fiesta Zetec.

Unlike the Fiesta range, no diesel engines have been announced for the US-market Sonic, although European (and possibly Australian) are expected to feature diesel options. These will include include two versions of a new 1.3 litre turbodiesel with a Start/Stop system, producing 55kW and 67kW respectively.

Australian specifications have yet to be revealed, and while the 1.8 litre engine is the likely offering, it is unclear if Holden will look to compete with the top-shelf Fiesta model.

As with its smaller sibling in the Barina Spark, suspension in the new Barina is managed by MacPherson type struts up front, and a torsion beam arrangement at the rear.

The Sonic/Barina is the first GM model developed on the Gamma II platform, a a version of the Fiat-GM developed Gamma/SCCS platform used most recently by the Opel Corsa, Opel Meriva and Alfa Romeo MiTo.

GM says buyers can look forward to a car tuned to European standards, with "a ride and handling ratio that combines comfort with responsiveness."

Standard safety features across the range will include Electronic power steering (EPS), Electronic stability control (ESC) and ABS brakes.



The new Barina is expected to make its Australian debut in September.


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