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Chevrolet outs Chinese Cruze

New look: This may the Chinese Cruze, but a version of this car will drive into western showrooms next year.

This new Chevrolet Cruze is not for the west, but a similar version of it will be

25 Apr 2014

CHEVROLET officially revealed the next-generation Cruze small sedan at the Beijing motor show this week, in its Chinese specification at least.

The official reveal came weeks after undisguised images of the car leaked onto the web, prompting a flurry of questions as to whether this was the overdue western-market model we were seeing. In short, not quite.

In a somewhat confusing decision, General Motors – as reported – also revealed a mild update of the ageing current-generation Cruze at the concurrent New York motor show, designed to tide its Chevrolet dealers over until the western version of the new model arrives later in 2015.

This version will be tweaked to suit western tastes, with “differentiated variants”, as GM terms them, to be produced for different markets. These markets will not include Europe, with GM this year withdrawing Chevrolet from the continent to focus solely on Opel.

Of course, the current Cruze is one of two vehicle lines produced by Holden in Australia at its Elizabeth plant. But with that plant set to close its doors by the end of 2017, it does not make economic sense to produce the new-generation car locally.

As reported last week, Holden will instead soldier on producing the current, soon-to-be-replaced version for another two-and-a-half years.

The new-shape Cruze could be sold concurrently – Holden has previously offered two generations of both the Barina and Astra at the same time – or not be imported to Australia at all until 2018, by which time it will have been on US roads for well over two years.

As we reported this month, the next-generation Cruze could be sourced from Thailand, with the South East Asian nation continuing to incentivise big automotive players to build more vehicles there, most notably with super-frugal next-generation engines.

In addition, GM Thailand last month announced plans to build a new Chevrolet model in a major investment to turn its Thai operation into a “strategic hub for global exports”.

Based on GM’s Gamma 2 platform, the new Cruze – both the Western and Chinese versions – will use new-generation Ecotec downsized engines, including 110kW/235Nm 1.4-litre turbocharged unit matched to a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

These underpinnings will also spin-off the next-generation 2016 Opel Astra, which could potentially come to Australia wearing Holden badges, most likely in hatch form.

Since the new Cruze is so US- and China-focused, and those markets vastly prefer sedans, GM may not bother with a new-generation Cruze hatch at all.

On the Chinese model, Chevrolet has swapped the sharper edges and squared-off look of the current Cruze for a smoother, more rounded design while maintaining the existing model's aggressive front-end styling.

The grille is slightly larger and the Chevy bow-tie has shifted location from the separating line of the twin-grille to the top intake, while the fog-light surrounds are more prominent than before, providing a more modern look.

It is unclear how different the US – and eventually Australian – version will look.

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