Future Models - Holden 2011 Cruze

Holden 2011 Cruze And wagon makes three: Holden is set to bring its Cruze line-up to three with an imported wagon, seen here in an artist's impression. Digital image: Chris Harris.

And wagon makes three: Holden is set to bring its Cruze line-up to three with an imported wagon, seen here in an artist's impression. Digital image: Chris Harris.

Wagon to join Cruze sedan and hatch as Holden plots small-car triple salvo

GM HOLDEN will launch a three-pronged assault on Australia’s largest vehicle segment next year when a facelifted Adelaide-built version of the successful Cruze sedan and homegrown five-door hatchback is joined by an imported wagon derivative of GM’s first global small-car.

Together, the three Cruze models should overtake the Commodore as both Holden’s most popular model and its volume-selling Australian-made vehicle by 2012, and the Holden-designed Cruze hatch is almost certain to open up a potentially lucrative new Holden export program to Europe.

Australia’s Cruze line-up should also grow to include a hot SRi version of the hatch, plus alternative-fuel options including ‘flex-fuel’ ethanol (E85) and compressed natural gas (CNG) to join this year’s E85 Commodore in Holden’s more fuel-efficient ‘EcoLine’ model range.

As we’ve reported, given the Cruze rides on the same Delta II platform as GM’s Volt, which will go on sale in Australia as a Holden in 2012, GMH has not ruled out the possibility it could eventually also produce a plug-in hybrid version of the Cruze – or even, the long-term, the Volt itself.

Holden has confirmed it will delay local production of the four-door Cruze from the third quarter of this year as previously announced, and we understand a facelifted Cruze sedan, designed to look more like the Fishermens Bend-designed five-door, will enter production 12 months from now in March 2011.

Holden2011 Cruze center imageLeft: Holden Cruze wagon (digital image), Chevrolet Cruze ECO. Below: Chevrolet Cruze RS.

The installation of tooling and other necessary plant modifications to produce the Cruze on the old Vectra line at Elizabeth will start late this year, with the first pre-production pilot vehicles due to emerge before Christmas.

GoAuto has learned that a number of minor component contracts are now in place with local suppliers ahead of local Cruze assembly, which will take place at Holden’s Elizabeth operations using an almost all-inclusive ‘completely knocked down’ (CKD) kit from Korea.

The hatch will closely follow the release of the upgraded Australian-built sedan, while the equally new Cruze wagon, first spy images of which are now going the internet rounds, will join the Adelaide-made Cruze twins next year.

The Cruze wagon effectively will replace Holden’s own Daewoo-built Viva and Opel-made Astra wagon in Australia, where the only other remaining mainstream small wagon is Hyundai’s i30cw.

It’s also understood that while the Cruze’s 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine will continue, the Cruze’s breathless 1.8-litre Family 1 four-cylinder petrol engine will make way for GM’s all-new 1.4-litre turbocharged ‘Family 0’ petrol four when local production commences.

Also employed as a range-extending power generator for the Volt, the latter was revealed by GM this week in the US Cruze, under North America’s newly adopted EcoLine green-car banner.

The 1.4-litre Cruze will make its debut at this week’s New York motor show and, while local supplies of the high-tech new engine are expected to come from Michigan or Austria, Cruze sedan and wagon production for North America and Canada will take place at Lordstown, Ohio.

Chevrolet announced the addition of a third shift at Lordstown last month, when it committed an extra 1200 workers to ramp-up of Cruze production following a $US350 million ($A381m) investment at its Ohio plant.

“This investment helps secure the best possible manufacturing footprint to react to market demand and deliver vehicles faster to our customers,” said US vice-president Chevrolet marketing Jim Campbell. “We believe Cruze is the right car at the right time for American consumers.”

Chevrolet this week announced that the 2011 Cruze ‘Eco’ variant, powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged ‘Ecotec’ engine with variable valve timing, would return best-in-class fuel consumption of just 40mpg (5.88L/100km) on the highway with a six-speed manual transmission.

A city fuel economy figure for the Cruze 1.4, which goes on sale in the US in the fourth quarter of this year, is yet to be revealed, but GM says the new Cruze variant will offer a cruising range of more than 800km.

“The Cruze Eco delivers hybrid-like efficiency without the pricetag,” said Mr Campbell. “Along with the Volt electric vehicle, it demonstrates how Chevrolet is working to bring new products to market that range from gas-friendly to gas-free.”

Although Holden will not comment on the 1.4-litre engine, which delivers 103kW and 200Nm in the US and will also be available with a six-speed automatic transmission, it may or may not become available here as part of an Eco version of the Cruze.

The 1.4-litre Cruze engine is part of GM’s Family 0 family that emerged as a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine in the 1996 Opel Corsa and also includes a 1.2-litre four. The turbocharged version also powers Opel’s new Astra, which is not sold here.

Holden spokesperson Emily Perry said the engine was important as part of GM's turbocharging and down-sizing strategy in Europe and North America.

“But we don't have anything to announce in relation to future powertains for Cruze in Australia at this time,” she said. In the US, the Cruze Eco will comprise a lower ride height, lighter 17-inch alloy wheels with ultra-low rolling-resistance Goodyear tyres, an optimised (manual transmission) final drive ratio, underbody panels, a rear spoiler and a lower front grille air shutter that closes at higher speeds to improve aerodynamics.

GM says the Cruze Eco will deliver 0-100km/h acceleration in about 10 seconds – nine for the automatic.

Also revealed by GM ahead of its New York reveal this week is an optional RS appearance package for LT and LTX versions of North America’s Cruze, which could provide a hint of the new front-end look to be worn by 2011 Cruze models locally.

The RS kit includes a more aggressive front bumper and rocker mouldings, plus a rear spoiler and foglights.

Inside, there’s an “uplevel” instrument cluster featuring chromed accent rings instead of the standard silver finish, plus “opaque cluster bezels that allow the cluster’s ice blue backlighting to shine through, providing a sporty night-time appearance”.

“For customers who want even more personality and presence in their vehicle, the RS appearance package builds on the already bold face and coupe-like proportions of the Cruze,” said GM’s executive director of North American Exterior Design – and former Holden design chief – Mike Simcoe.

Holden sold 12,590 examples of the Cruze sedan, which has been imported from GM Daewoo in Korea since last June, in the seven months it was on sale in Australia last year.

While a recall to fix leaky fuel lines will dent sales this month, 2000-plus sales in both January and February makes it Australia’s fourth best selling small car with a segment share of 12.2 per cent so far in 2010.

Meantime, Holden sold 44,387 Commodores last year (down 13.1 per cent on 2008), plus 12,104 Ute (down 10 per cent), 1455 Caprice (down 11.3 per cent) and 584 Statesman vehicles (down 67.6 per cent).

Hatch derivatives traditionally comprises around half of all small-car sales in Australia, but the arrival of a Cruze hatch is sure to cannibalise some sedan sales.

Even so, given an annualised running rate of about 25,000 Cruze sedans, the addition of fleet-friendly wagon and Holden-penned hatch body styles will likely see the three-grade Cruze range surpass the Commodore sedan and wagon as Australia’s favourite model in its first full year of sales – even if the large-car market doesn’t continue to decline.

Whether or not the Cruze proves to be as profitable on a per-unit basis as the Commodore, it’s no wonder the Cruze is being groomed as the future star of GM’s Australian model range.

In other Cruze news this week, GM has announced its new global small-car will contest the full World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) this year for the first time, after its debut in the 2009 season when the Cruze was launched in Europe.

For the record, the 2010 Chevrolet Cruze WTCC has a minimum FIA-set kerb weight of 1150kg and runs a 212kW/197Nm version of GM’s 2.0-litre Ecotec four, which revs beyond 8500rpm and gives the racecar a 250km/h-plus top speed.


Holden 2011 Cruze And wagon makes three: Holden is set to bring its Cruze line-up to three with an imported wagon, seen here in an artist's impression. Digital image: Chris Harris.






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