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New York show: Chevy Sonic bares Barina facelift

Familiar face: The mid-life refresh for Chevrolet’s Sonic light car reflects the brand’s latest styling direction, providing it with a family resemblance to all-new models such as the second-generation Cruze small car and all-electric Bolt hatchback.

Chevrolet Sonic previews Holden Barina refresh with tech upgrades for Gen Y appeal


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21 Mar 2016

CHEVROLET has revealed a facelifted Sonic, which is expected to turn up in Australia wearing Barina badges before the end of this year, packed with technology, comfort and safety upgrades that should help draw Gen-Y eyes away from their smartphones and towards showrooms.

Previewed this week at the New York motor show in North American trim, the mid-life Sonic update also provides the light car with a stronger family resemblance to the US brand’s latest models, courtesy of a substantially redesigned front-end and tweaked tail.

Interior shots have not yet been revealed, but a standard 7.0-inch touchscreen provides access to General Motors’ latest MyLink infotainment system, which offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration plus the ability to create a rolling 4G Wi-Fi hotspot for passengers to access high-speed internet through their laptops or tablets.

Adding further appeal to tech-savvy young buyers – and their concerned parents – are the addition of forward collision and lane departure warning safety features.

Meanwhile, heated front seats and steering wheel, along with powered driver’s seat adjustment, bring yet more big-car comforts to the light car category – along with keyless entry and start.

Externally, gone are the Sonic/Barina’s distinctive four headlight lenses flanking a gaping grille.

These have been supplanted by a subtler, almost European-looking arrangement with LED daytime running lights integrated with one-piece headlights of angular stepped design and projector-beam internals.

Between them is a slim grille intake, beneath which is a wide lower intake bookended by fog lights within faux brake cooling ducts at the bumper’s outer edges.

Around the back, the outgoing model’s quirky circular tail-light theme is consigned to history, with both sedan and hatch featuring more conventional-looking clusters above a re-profiled rear bumper.

North American markets retain carry-over the 1.8-litre naturally aspirated (Australia gets a 1.6-litre) and 1.4-litre turbo petrol engines, the latter fitted to the sporty RS variant also offered in Australia.

The RS gains a new red seating cloth option to go with its piano black interior trim, RS-branded floor mats and flat-bottomed sports steering wheel.

Australian specifications, styling cues and pricing are yet to be confirmed, but the competitiveness of the market almost guarantees that much of the Chevrolet version’s new creature comforts and safety systems will make their way across the Pacific – unless Holden decides to replace the South Korean model with a European-sourced Opel Corsa.

Local Barina sales have been sliding for some time, down 30 per cent in 2014, 6.2 per cent in 2015 and 14.2 per cent year-to-date.

Last year it owned a 5.6 per cent share of the light car segment with 5999 sales, compared with the market-leading Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris that each sold around 14,500 units.

The current model has been on sale since 2011, with a few running changes and new variants added along the way.

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