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    TRIFECTA Performance

    Introducing the world's first All Wheel Drive (AWD) Chevrolet Sonic

      In recent years, we've taken to pushing the boundaries on what's possible with factory part swaps on the Chevrolet Cruze and Chevrolet Sonic.  The ultimate dream of most Sonic owner-enthusiasts is to make their cars into the legitimate hot hatch that Chevrolet never built.  To us, a hot hatch is four things:  all wheel drive (AWD), lots of power, manual transmission, and exceptional handling.  This article is about how we're tackling the AWD challenge.


    The Sonic cousin:  Buick Encore / Chevrolet Trax

    In a quest like this, the first thing to do is figure out which parts can be borrowed from other vehicles that have the feature you want.  It turns out the Chevrolet Sonic, Chevrolet Trax, and Buick Encore all share something in common:  the chassis.  Known as the GM “Gamma II” chassis, it started in the US in 2010 as the Chevrolet Spark.  In 2011 the Chevrolet Aveo was introduced.  In 2012, the Aveo was renamed as Sonic, and in 2013 the Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax were introduced with optional AWD.  The Sonic, Encore and Trax use the 1.4L turbo MPFI engine (RPO: LUJ/LUV).


    Borrowing the AWD System

    For our project, we obtained a 2015 Chevrolet Sonic RS and an AWD Chevrolet Trax.  The Chevrolet Trax has a transverse mounted 1.4L turbo engine, mated to a 6 speed automatic transmission.  A transfer case attached to the transmission sends power to a rear differential via a propeller shaft.  An ECU (Rear Differential Clutch Control Module) controls the amout of torque transferred from the propeller shaft to the rear differential.


    Not as easy as it Sounds

    Given these vehicles are all “Gamma II” chassis vehicles, we just need to unbolt the AWD system from the Trax and install it in the Sonic, right?  Not quite.  To name just a few challenges:  We had to cut the spare tire well out of the Sonic to make room for the rear differential.  We had to swap the rear suspension from the Trax in its entirety because the Sonic suspension doesn't have a provision for the propeller shaft.  The propeller shaft will need to be shortened.  


    Maybe a Rally Spec car instead of a Hot Hatch

    One other issue we've run into so far, is that the Trax suspension sits higher than the Sonic suspension.  The overall ride height will be about 1.5” higher than the original suspension.  Maybe we should make this into a Rally spec car instead of a Hot Hatch!

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    27 minutes ago, Chad wang said:

    Are you guys going to try it on a Cruze 

    Probably not.  The Sonic was a perfect candidate for this given it and the Trax are both on the Gamma II chassis.  While it wasn't a direct swap, it was no doubt exponentially easier than trying to do this with a Cruze.  For the Cruze, we'd need to source a donor vehicle that uses AWD on the Delta II chassis, but unfortunately none exist.

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    That is cool and all, but since the Sonic and Trax are virtually identical vehicles (drivetrain, interior and exterior dimensions), I don't see a reason for doing this. If it was a diesel swap (from a UK sourced Aveo 1.3 tdi engine, for example), I understand. But the only difference is the latter having an optional AWD and sits a couple inches higher. Which is exactly what you had to do to fit the rear diff. Have you ever finished this project?

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    Is the rear diff electronically controlled on the Encore/Trax? Did you need to run any wires to it, or is it self-contained? Also, is it open or posi/lsd?

    Edited by mja

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    what was the solution to keep it a manual instead of having to swap in the auto from the trax? Mokka X trans?

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    i thought the same thing, but after just a few minutes of searching i found that the trax as even less aftermarket support the the 1.8L sonic, which the fact that i live in america and have to get cat-delete headers imported from the U.K. for my american car is just sad, and yes im aware the 1.8 in the sonic is actually a opel design, so it makes since that id have to get X18XER headers for my Z18XE, but still

    also are you guys going to stick with the 1.4T or were you going to play around with swapping the LSJ in from the early model cobaltSS, a 2.0SC would power that AWD system alot more effeciantly than that 1.4t chevy dug out of opels trash bin, and theres also a world of support for the LSJ when compared to the Z18XE and the 1.4T

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