When the Ford Fiesta first touched down in 2010, the model seemed doomed to follow in the footsteps of the American compact cars that had gone before it. Through December of that year, sales of the smallest member of the Blue Oval family failed to crest more than 4,000 units per month. Despite a pandemic marketing campaign and healthy buzz ahead of the vehicle's launch, production delays and tolerable gas prices did little to help usher the models off of dealer lots. But as fuel prices inch ever skyward, the littlest Blue Oval has begun gaining traction. In May alone, 7,120 Fiesta units leapt off of lots. Even more importantly, the tiny cars carried a higher average transaction price than the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla - all substantially larger vehicles.
With the little Ford poised for some big numbers this year, it's clear that U.S. buyers are embracing domestic small cars like they haven't done in ages. General Motors is understandably keen to prove that it, too, can build a B-segment contender. The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic is the company's latest effort in the category. As the successor to the egregiously disappointing Aveo, the Sonic needs to prove that GM can do more than unload Korean hatches at the dock. We took to the wheel of a few pre-production models in Indianapolis, Indiana to see how the effort is coming along.
Despite retaining a profile that's remarkably similar to its predecessor, the Sonic is an aggressively styled vehicle in either hatchback or sedan guise. Much of the compact's personality comes from its angular visage and massive, scowling quad headlamps, which give the impression that the Sonic is either deep in furious thought or on the verge of eating your cat. It's kind of like a less cuddly version of ALF. Those headlights are built with four smaller lenses instead of a single, larger polycarbonate cover. While the design makes for a striking looker in the flesh, we'd hate to have to scrub bug bits from the details.
Large fender arches dominate the side of the Sonic hatch along with two forward-leaning lines. The upper half of that parallel wraps up into the cabin's window opening while the lower detail slides over the rear wheel well. Move toward the rear of the vehicle and you'll notice a standard spoiler and blacked-out tail lamps.