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Geneva show: Production Cruze hatch set to debut

Ready to hatch: Chevrolet Cruze hatchback to be revealed at Geneva motor show.

Holden’s Cruze hatchback to take a bow under a Chevrolet bow-tie in Geneva

2 Feb 2011

CHEVROLET will peel the covers from the production version of the Holden-designed Cruze hatchback at the Geneva motor show on March 1, giving Holden fans their first glimpse of the five-door model that is set to start rolling out of the Adelaide plant alongside the new locally-built Holden Cruze sedan later this year.

The road-going version of the Chevrolet/Holden hatch is likely to be basically true – with a few tweaks – to the original concept unveiled at last year’s 2010 Paris motor show.

In its statement released overnight, Chevrolet says the production car will draw styling influences from the Paris concept. However, the photograph accompanying the release gives no clues, as it is the same shot that was released before Paris.

However, Holden has confirmed to GoAuto that the bow-tie-badged Chevrolet hatch will not be exported from Holden’s Elizabeth plant when it goes in sale in Europe in the northern summer, instead being shipped from a northern hemisphere source, probably South Korea.

Locally, the Holden Cruze hatch will follow in the fourth quarter of this year, several months after the local debut of the facelifted Cruze sedan that has already gone into production in Adelaide in readiness for its sales release within weeks.

13 center imageTop and middle: The Chevrolet Cruze hatch at Paris in 2010. Bottom: The 2010 Chevrolet Orlando.

As GoAuto reported in December, the Aussie Cruze – replacing the South Korean-sourced car that made its Australian debut in May 2009 – will be offered with a choice of three engines, including a 120kW/350Nm 2.0-litre diesel.

Overnight, Chevrolet also confirmed its version would be offered with the range-topping four-cylinder diesel and a six-speed manual gearbox, which is already used in the Chevrolet Orlando that shares the same Delta II platform as the Cruze.

The Chevrolet and Holden versions are also likely to share two petrol engines initially – the efficient new 103kW/200Nm 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine and a tweaked version of the current 104kW 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol powerplant.

Later, the Cruze is expected to gain a hot turbo version, probably using Opel’s 132kW 1.6-litre engine from the Astra range. As well, GM has been testing a full-electric version of the Cruze, equipped with a 31kWh lithium-ion battery and 150kW electric motor that accelerates the car to 100km/h in 8.2 seconds.

A Cruze wagon is also in the pipeline, with potential for Australian production alongside the sedan and hatch that will be assembled on a refurbished production line that once carried Holden Vectras for the Australian market.

Chevrolet’s pre-Geneva media release says the Cruze hatch will have the biggest load area in its class while still bringing new levels of style to match its versatility.

“With its attractive sweeping coupe roofline and short front and rear overhangs, it enjoys the same dynamic stance as the saloon model, but with even greater sleekness,” the statement says.

The Cruze hatch was designed by Holden’s design team in Melbourne, working with GM designers from around the world in a 12-month project.

The hatch won universal praise when it was unveiled in Paris, with calls from American car fans for GM to reconsider its decision not to launch it in North America – a market considered sedan territory.

Latest reports from the US, however, quote Chevrolet spokesmen as saying the hatch has not been ruled out for that market.

“It’s a maybe,” Chevrolet spokesman Lesley Hettinger is quoted as telling Edmunds Inside Line. In Europe and Australia, hatchbacks are considered essential to small-car sales success.

Chevrolet Europe president and managing director Wayne Brannon said hatchbacks represented 65 per cent of the compact segment in Europe, where compacts comprise more than a quarter of all sales.

"The new Cruze hatchback cements Chevrolet's claim for a place among the mainstream brands in Europe, and it's a vehicle that will bring new levels of value against some of the more established competition," he said.

Holden hopes the local Cruze, which is expected to rely heavily on imported content, at least initially, will build on the fast-growing success of the South Korean-built sedan.

Last year, the Cruze was Australia’s fourth best-selling small car behind the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 and Hyundai i30, even though it had no hatchback variant.

By addressing the hatchback shortcoming and wooing a big slice of fleet purchases from governments and companies with buy-Australian preferences, the Cruze is likely to become a dominant performer in the Australian market’s biggest segment.

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