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Holden’s Cruze hatch hits the road

Revealed: The upcoming Holden Cruze hatchback in action as local road testing begins.

First official action shots of Holden’s upcoming Cruze hatch released

6 May 2011

GM HOLDEN has released the first official images of its upcoming Cruze hatchback in action as local road testing begins, rendering even more useless recent spy images of the small five-door in heavy disguise.

The final production version of the Port Melbourne-designed Cruze hatch, which hits Holden showrooms in October and will be sold elsewhere globally as a Chevrolet, was revealed in mid-March.

Its appearance was timed alongside the launch of the ‘localised’ Series II Cruze sedan, which went into production in Adelaide that month as the first Australian-built small car in more than 12 years.

As the first factory-backed drive shots of early production models under validation test on Victoria roads again show, the new Holden hatch is almost identical to the Chevy version that made its global debut at the Geneva motor show two weeks earlier.

However, it goes without a number of the striking design cues worn by the concept version that debuted at last October’s Paris motor show, including HSV-style LED daytime running lights, blue-tinged headlights, more aggressive bumpers and bigger wheels.

13 center imageFrom top: Studio image of the Holden Cruze hatch from March, Chevrolet Cruze from Paris show, Chevrolet Cruze hatch, Opel Astra.

Some of these features should reappear on a range-topping Cruze ‘SS’ hot-hatch powered by the closely related Opel Astra’s 132kW/230Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four, or an even hotter ‘VXR’ version expected from HSV, powered by the 213kW twin-scroll turbo direct-injection petrol four that debuted in the Opel OPC concept at the 2010 Paris show.

From launch, however, the Cruze hatch line-up is expected to mirror that of the Cruze II sedan, which was Australia’s second best selling small car and fourth most popular vehicle overall in April, despite first deliveries only taking place from mid-month.

The four-door Cruze was launched here in June 2009 and became Australia’s top-selling small sedan last year, when more than 28,000 were sold.

Incremental sales added by the hatch are likely to push Cruze sales above the Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla to become Australia’s favourite small car – and should eventually also overtake the Commodore as Australia’s best-selling vehicle.

Falling into line with the facelifted JH Cruze sedan, the hatch differs from the original JG Cruze imported from Korea in a number of areas, including a more rounded grille, revised bumpers, new wheel designs, new-look headlights and several new exterior paint colours from the VEII Commodore and WMII Caprice it is built alongside at Elizabeth.

The Cruze hatch engine line-up should also echo that of the sedan, which brings improved Euro-5 emissions-meeting engines offering better performance and refinement as a result of a two-year, 350,000km validation and testing program conducted by Holden.

A downsized Austrian-made 1.4-litre ‘iTi’ turbo-petrol engine delivering 103kW and 200Nm and matched with six-speed manual and automatic transmissions is joined by a significant new chassis package comprising Watts link rear suspension and electric power steering in selected models.

Borrowed from the latest Opel Astra due on sale here in 2012, highlighting the similarities between the Cruze and Astra and their common GM Delta II platform, the iTi components are available as a $1250 option on the entry-level Cruze CD sedan and standard on the new SRi and SRi-V variants.

The SRi is differentiated by a modified grille and air-intake, a rear lip spoiler and revised alloy wheels, while the SRi-V introduces remote keyless entry and start, satellite-navigation, a 10GB hard-drive, CD/MP3 rip and store capability, DVD player and live-radio pause functionality to the Cruze for the first time.

Prices for the volume-selling 1.8-litre petrol Cruze II sedan models (CD and CDX), which like the similarly upgraded 2.0-litre diesel versions retain the JG Cruze’s torsion beam rear suspension and hydraulic steering systems, remains unchanged at $20,990 plus on-road costs.

Expect similar pricing for the hatch, but it remains to be seen if the five-door Cruze comprises more Australian-made components than the Adelaide-built sedan, less than 50 per cent of which is currently produced locally.

Holden received $149 million from the federal government’s discontinued Green Car Innovation Fund and a further $30 million from the state government to produce the Cruze in South Australia.

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