Chevrolet will add a performance-oriented RS variant to its Sonic lineup for the 2013 model year. Chevrolet says that its primary goal is to give the Sonic “a more performance-oriented look and feel,” according to the automaker’s press release.

The 2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS, which is only available as a hatchback, will be powered by the same 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine available on the 2012 Sonic, and will be paired with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

Although the RS’ engine doesn’t gain any power, reviewers predict that the RS will be a better performer than its non-RS siblings. “Engineers did fiddle with the RS’s gearing a bit—the manual gets closer ratios, and the automatic gets a shorter final-drive—so it will likely be slightly quicker than the standard turbo,” Car and Driver says. “Chevy did a bit more underneath the RS. Its suspension is stiffer and lower, and it will be the only Sonic with rear disc brakes.”

Visually, the Sonic RS will distinguish itself with model-specific 17 -inch wheels, a new grille and a new rear spoiler, among other changes. Inside, the RS will include a flat-bottom steering wheel, front sport seats, a new manual shift knob and aluminum-covered sport pedals.

The Sonic RS could help bolster sales of the affordable small car, which is already selling quite well. According to The Detroit Bureau, Chevrolet reported that “dealers have only a 17-day supply on their lots, less than a third of what the industry considers normal.”

Chevrolet hasn’t announced pricing for the Sonic RS, but it should cost more than the base hatch, which  starts at $14,635. The RS will be available before the end of 2012.

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