NEW FOR 2008:

– Standard electronic immobilizer theft deterrent
– Wi Special Edition Package includes auxiliary audio cable for iPod connection
– Acoustic package to reduce noise intrusion

For 2008, the Pontiac Wave undergoes only minor trim changes. As in 2007, the hatchback styling differs slightly from the sedan, due to the sedan being restyled for last year.

A sister car to the Chevrolet Aveo and Suzuki Swift+, the Wave is available only in the Canadian market. Both sedan and hatchback – a model the company calls the Wave5, as it counts the liftgate as a door – use a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed standard transmission or optional four-speed automatic. Both models are available in base or SE trim.

Features on the base models include 14-inch steel wheels, manual remote mirrors, fixed intermittent wipers, digital clock, floor console, floor mats, tilt wheel, smoker’s package, CD/MP3 stereo, driver’s seat manual height adjustment, and 60/40 split-folding rear seat. The Wave5 includes fog lamps and rear washer/wiper.

The SE adds air conditioning, power locks with keyless entry, heated mirrors, cruise control and power windows.

Depending on the model, available options include seat side airbags, anti-lock brakes, rear spoiler, 15-inch aluminum wheels, and six-CD stereo.

Built in South Korea by a GM subsidiary, the Wave competes in a crowded segment that also includes the Aveo and Swift+, and the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent. Its engine feels peppy in such a small package, and the rack-and-pinion steering is more responsive than expected. The front seats are roomy and the car is quiet for a subcompact at this price. It doesn’t handle as well as the Fit, and its fit-and-finish isn’t quite up to that of the Yaris, but its price is competitive and its powertrain warranty is attractive.

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