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First look: Holden hatches five-door Cruze

Australian-made: Five-door Cruze concept was designed and engineered at Fishermens Bend and will enter production outside Adelaide late next year.

Holden lifts the lid on its Australian-designed, Paris-bound Cruze hatchback

3 Sep 2010

HOLDEN has revealed a small Australian-designed hatchback that will have a big global future following its worldwide debut at the Paris motor show on September 30.

Designed and built by GM Holden’s Victorian design studio, the five-door Cruze hatch concept car will wear Chevrolet badges in Paris before the production version – also designed at Port Melbourne – is built in several countries, including Australia from late 2011.

Production of the four-door Cruze sedan for Australia will shift from South Korea to Holden’s Elizabeth assembly plant in South Australia in the first quarter of next year. Both the upgraded 2011 Cruze sedan and hatch were expected to have been built alongside the Commodore from as early as this year.

General Motors announced more than a week ago that Chevrolet’s compact Orlando people-mover - which was also designed by Holden and is based on the same ‘Delta II’ platform as the Cruze – would be just one of four global model debuts from GM at Paris.

As we revealed exclusively then, the Australian-styled hatch will be revealed in Paris alongside the Orlando production car, an upgraded version of the Captiva with four new engines and the Aveo, which will go on sale here later this year badged as the Holden Barina.

The next Barina, which will be bolstered by the sub-light-sized 'Barina Spark', was previewed by the Aveo RS concept (also designed in Australia) at this year’s Detroit motor show.

Holden’s design centre - one of only three GM studios worldwide that has the ability to design prototype and concept vehicles – has created a host of concept vehicles in recent years, including the Volt-based MPV5 and the futuristic EN-V pod-car concept that appeared in China this year.

While Holden is just a month away from receiving the first North American orders for its great new export hope, the long-wheelbase Chevrolet Caprice Patrol Vehicle, Holden has also been asked to submit a design concept for Chevrolet’s seventh-generation Corvette super-coupe.

13 center imageLeft: Holden-made Cruze hatch show car Below: Holden Cruze sketch revealed in late 2008. The newest Cruze models, which will wear unique Holden design elements including grilles, is expected to be fitted with a more efficient turbocharged 1.4-litre turbocharged engine that promises to offer greater performance and efficiency than the car’s current 1.8-litre petrol four.

Holden chief designer Richard Ferlazzo said his department spent more than 12 months working with GM designers from around the world to develop the hatch, which features short overhangs and a more curvaceous roofline and rear-end than the sedan.

“Our brief was to create an alternative body style to the traditional sedan that retained the same dynamic proportions that has made Cruze such a success around the world,” said Mr Ferlazzo.

“We are very proud of the result which will be tailored further for the Australian market and given an appearance consistent with the rest of the Holden portfolio next year.” The Cruze, which has quickly established itself as one of Australia’s top-selling small cars since it launched here in May 2009, is the first small car to be built in Australia since Toyota ceased Corolla production more than a decade ago.

GM's European press release stated the Cruze wagon will offer a cargo capacity of almost 400 litres and the flexibility of a 40/60-split rear seatback.

President and managing director of Chevrolet Europe, Wayne Brannon, said the hatchback would boost sales of the successful Cruze considerably in Europe - where more than three million small hatchbacks are sold annually - from mid-2011.

"Cruze is turning out to be a real success story," he said. "We are selling it in 70 countries around the world and it has recently surpassed the Aveo as our top selling passenger car nameplate globally.

"Hatchbacks play a critical role in many markets. The total compact segment in Europe represents around 4.8 million units which is over a quarter of the total market, with hatchbacks representing around 65 per cent of that volume.

"We therefore expect to see increased business in a number of regions, while sending out a signal that Chevrolet is now a serious mainstream player in Europe." So far in 2010, the Cruze tops the compact sedan sales segment in many large European markets, including Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the UK, where it is exceeding forecasted sales.

In China, where the Cruze is also built, Chevrolet has sold nearly 90,000 examples this year alone.

While other popular Cruze markets include Russia, parts of South America and India, GM Holden is now not expected to export its first locally built small car since the Vectra in 1999.

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