Two 2012 Chevrolet Sonics are being decked out for SEMA

Chevrolet Previews 2012 Sonic and Cruze Models Heading to 2011 SEMA Show

Chevrolet's small cars - the 2012 Chevy Sonic and 2012 Chevy Cruze - are heading to the playground that was once the exclusive domain of big American muscle cars and pickups: the 2011 SEMA show in Las Vegas that opens next week from Nov. 1 to 4.

Chevrolet isn't exactly breaking new ground with the Sonic and Cruze at SEMA. Both already offer available factory turbocharged powertrains – with the Sonic offering the only turbo engine in its class. Turbo is usually a popular add-on with the SEMA crowd because of its ability to boost power and, in some cases, offer better fuel economy.

Most of the Cruzes and Sonics that Chevrolet is showing off are wearing conceptual Z-Spec styling enhancements, which are being evaluated for production. Z-Spec is a line of performance, styling, and personalization accessories available at Chevy dealerships. It appears Chevy is testing the water at SEMA to see if there is enough mainstream interest to bring the after-market Z-spec accessories into the production process (which ironically would mean they were technically no longer eligible for SEMA and its focus on aftermarket products).

However, Chevrolet is not showing off all of its products in advance of the show. It said it is keeping a few Sonics under wraps until the SEMA show, "each representing an even higher level of performance and personalization."

“The heritage of Chevrolet cars like the Corvette and Camaro is being expressed in smaller packages for the next generation,” said Chris Perry, vice president, global marketing and strategy for Chevrolet, in the SEMA announcement. “The Sonic and Cruze concepts demonstrate that performance comes in all shapes, sizes and displacements at Chevrolet.” (That's another sign how important SEMA is – people at Perry's level are making announcements about it.)

Here is what Chevrolet has announced for 2011 SEMA with the Sonic and the Cruze:

Sonic Z-Spec #1 – Designers took a turbocharged Sonic five-door and dressed it with concept Z-Spec accessories. They added Z-Spec ground effects, a spoiler, unique grille and graphics package – then finished it off with a Torch Red exterior and Z-Spec concept 18-inch wheels. Inside, the Cobalt Red cabin features custom trim, including perforated black suede seat inserts, a Z-Spec sport pedal kit, sport shift knob and a racing-style flat-bottom steering wheel. Additional upgrades include performance brakes with four-piston calipers, a new high-flow exhaust system and performance suspension parts.

Sonic Z-Spec #2 – The next Sonic concept – in Flat White with Torch Red accents – builds on concept Z-Spec accessories with a more aggressive ground effects package, unique grille, rear spoiler and graphics package. It rides on Z-Spec concept 18-inch wheels and also includes a re-trimmed interior with Z-Spec sport pedal kit, Z-Spec sport shift knob and a flat-bottom steering wheel. It also features custom racing seats with the Z-Spec logo. The factory powertrain features the 1.4L turbo engine and six-speed manual transmission. Performance upgrades include brakes with four-piston calipers, a high-flow exhaust system and suspension parts.

Sonic Z-Spec 4D Concept – The more formal look of the Sonic sedan lends itself to a touring car-style motif, which this Ashen Grey Metallic concept picks up with concept Z-Spec ground effects, rear spoiler, grille, “Chevrolet” graphics and larger Z-Spec concept 18-inch wheels. As with its five-door counterparts, this Sonic features a re-trimmed interior – in Dark Titanium with Cobalt Red accents – Z-Spec sport pedal kit, aluminum sport shift knob and a flat-bottom steering wheel (trimmed with Cobalt Red suede). The factory turbo 1.4L engine and six-speed manual transmission are complemented by performance upgrades that include four-piston caliper brakes, a high-flow exhaust system and suspension parts.

Sonic Dusk – The most subtle of the Sonic concepts is the Dusk. It features a Berlin Blue exterior, with a mild concept ground effects package, unique grille treatment and 18-inch concept wheels in dark Galvano Silver. Even the lights are tinted blue for a sophisticated statement. The Mojave leather interior has custom seat inserts, Z-Spec shift knob with satin chrome trim, Z-Spec sport pedals and accessory interior trim kit. The Sonic Dusk also features a suede-trimmed, flat-bottom steering wheel, custom audio system and brake and suspension upgrades.

Cruze Z-Spec – Wearing concept Z-Spec ground effects, 18-inch custom wheels, an accessory spoiler and a high-flow grille, the Cruze Z-Spec has the looks and feel of a taut touring car. The exterior appearance of this Cruze is enhanced with a new stripe package that will be available soon, while on the inside are special seat inserts, a racing-style pedal kit, accessory shift knob and interior trim, as well as a new steering wheel.

Cruze Dusk – Complementing the Sonic Dusk concept, the Cruze Dusk suggests a more subtle and sophisticated approach to personalization, including a mild concept ground effects package, a unique grille treatment and dark-tinted wheels. The interior has custom seat inserts, along with an accessory shift knob, sport pedals, interior trim kit, a suede-trimmed steering wheel and a custom audio system.

Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.

Share this content.