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Future models - Holden - Compact SUV

Holden eyes sub-Captiva SUV

Meaner Barina: GM is planning compact SUV believed to be based on a stretched version of the Gamma II platform that will underpin the next-generation Barina.

Youth-oriented baby crossover based on next-gen Holden Barina on the cards for 2012

Holden logo5 Nov 2010

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

GM HOLDEN is set to ambush the lower regions of the SUV segment over the next two years or so with a compact crossover to slot beneath the Captiva.

Under development at GM Daewoo, a clay model of the prototype vehicle has already been showcased to some overseas media and senior company executives in Korea.

But GM Daewoo design head Taewon Kim reportedly said that the styling is still in the early stages of execution, so the production vehicle will not be on sale before 2012 at the earliest.

A concept is expected to debut shortly, with some observers suggesting next January’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit as the likely venue.

13 center imageLeft: Chevrolet Agile Cross Sport.

The compact SUV is believed to be based on a stretched version of the coming Gamma II platform that underpins the next-generation Chevrolet Aveo/2012 Barina.

This B-segment supermini architecture will also be employed underneath the coming all-new Opel Corsa light car, and is said to be engineered for both front-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations, along with petrol and diesel engine applications.

Being related to the Corsa virtually ensures that there will be plenty of upscale Opel-sourced or Opel-like switchgear in the new compact crossover’s cabin, in order to give it upmarket appeal against the conceptually similar Suzuki SX4 and Nissan Juke.

Along with the Captiva, GM Daewoo has also supplied Holden, Opel, Vauxhall and other GM brands with the Captiva-based Antara compact SUV designed in Germany by Opel, it has been sold in Australia as the Captiva Maxx and, more recently, the Captiva 5.

With stringent emissions requirements and the ever-increasing spectre of road tax based on carbon dioxide pollution, the European market is set to become GM’s focus with the new Aveo/2012 Barina-based baby crossover.

However, Holden too is keen to have a greater presence in the growing mid $20,000 compact SUV segment, to take on the Nissan Dualis, Hyundai ix35 and Kia Sportage.

The company already has form in the field, importing and carving out a successful market niche with the Suzuki Ignis light car-based YG Cruze from Japan between 2001 and 2006. Interestingly, Australian design supremo for GM, Mike Simcoe, was behind the YG concept.

According to the director of external communications, Emily Perry, Holden will watch developments closely before deciding on whether to bring in a compact SUV.

“This end of the compact SUV segment is obviously growing, and we will be closely assessing any future product that becomes available to us,” Ms Perry said.

“But while we are very interested in offering such a vehicle, right now we have nothing to announce.” The upcoming GM Daewoo-developed compact SUV/crossover should not be confused with the Chevrolet Agile Cross Sport – a raised and ruffled version of the Agile light car developed in Argentina and built in Brazil.

This car employs a variation of the current TK Barina’s T200 light car platform, and is built down to a price to compete in the South American region.

Unveiled at the Sao Paulo motor show this month, no Agile Cross Sport exports to Australia are likely.

“There are no plans to import the Chevrolet Agile Cross Sport,” Ms Perry said.

Holden is expected to have at least three compact SUVs on sale in Australia by 2013.

As GoAuto Media reported last month, a full-sized seven-seater vehicle based on the next-generation Colorado one-tonne pick-up is reaching the final phases of development for a 2012 launch.

Before that, the Captiva will receive a much-needed refresh in the first quarter of next year.

All are part of Holden chairman and CEO Mike Devereux’s stated mission in October to introduce 10 new models in this country inside the next 20 months.

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