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Detroit show: Next Barina surfaces

New baby: The Chevrolet Aveo RS concept is expected to surface as the next Barina in Australia.

Holden’s next-gen baby trips into Detroit as the Aussie-built Chevy Aveo RS concept

11 Jan 2010

HOLDEN’S long-overdue replacement for the eight-year-old, Daewoo Kalos-based TK Barina is finally on the horizon in the form of the Chevrolet Aveo RS.

But don’t expect to see GM’s B-segment baby in Australia before 2011 at the earliest, as the five-door hatchback previewed at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit is only a concept.

While some models may eventually offer the concept’s striking 19-inch alloys, lurid paint scheme, aluminium trim, jet-plane afterburner-style tail-light surrounds and turbocharged 103kW 1.4-litre four-cylinder ECOTEC petrol engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox (look for the latter in an iteration of the upcoming Cruze small car soon, by the way), most of the upcoming South Korean-built light cars will not.

Production of the version Australians will be able to buy – probably to be code-named T300 – is not expected to start before the end of this year.

A handful of Aussies have already seen the Aveo RS, since the concept car – the work of GM designer Ondrej Koromhaz – was built at GM Holden in Melbourne towards the end of last year and was only shipped to the US in December in time for the annual Detroit shindig.

13 center imageGM says the “European inspired hot hatch look” is meant to appeal to “young enthusiasts” and so follows the lead set by BMW’s Mini back in 2001 (and since adopted by many other car-makers including Fiat for the 500 and Kia for the Soul) by offering a vast array of personalisation options and possibilities.

Further to this end, many of the Cruze and Spark (GM’s sub-B light car replacement for the Daewoo Matiz that is on track for an Australian release this year if some media reports are to be believed) styling cues also exist in the Aveo RS, including the rising beltline, low roofline, split grille treatment, flared wheel arches and round tail-light motifs.

The Chevy concept car also features door handles hidden in the C-pillar, Alfa Romeo 147 style, to give it a three-door coupe-like look.

"The Aveo RS show car demonstrates how progressive design can inject personality into a small car," said Michael Simcoe, executive director for GM’s North American exterior design department. "We want customers to see it and have an emotional reaction to it." It is understood that under the wedgy body lies a variation of GM’s ‘Gamma II’ platform that is believed to be the basis for the next-generation Opel Corsa, standardising the company’s global B-segment offerings.

Among the many advances promised over the existing T200/T250 TK Barina models is more interior room, with GM saying the Aveo RS is “longer, wider and more spacious than the current production Aveo ...” The cabin in particular has come under scrutiny, with a stylish, quality dashboard similar to that of the Cruze. And while the productionised Aveo RS will not go as all-out as the concept car in terms of expensive metallic trim, leather upholstery and gadgets galore, the fascia you see here will fundamentally be carried through to the version you will be able to buy sometime next year.

To serve the North American market, GM will build the T300 at the existing Orion Assembly plant in Michigan – a move that may well herald the smallest vehicle the company has ever built in the US.

It will take on the burgeoning number of baby-car combatants led some years a go by the Honda Fit (Jazz) and subsequently subscribed to by the Toyota Yaris. The Ford Fiesta (to be built in Mexico for North American buyers), and next-generation Mitsubishi Colt, Suzuki Swift and Volkswagen Polo, along with the current Fiat 500 from 2011, are also fixing for a fight Stateside.

"The Aveo RS concept shows clearly that we are ready to make a big step forward in the small car segment," said Chevrolet Europe president and managing director, Wayne Brannon.

"Coming to Europe in 2011, the new Aveo will be completely in tune with the striking new Cruze and Spark, our all-new compact and mini entries." "We hope the Aveo RS show car will demonstrate that we are as serious about redefining the Aveo and its place in the small-car segment as we were about reinventing the Malibu," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet general manager.

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