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Inside Holden’s Delta force

Cruzing: Holden is preparing to build a five-door hatch on GM's Delta II platform - the first of up to five Delta derivatives.

Cruze hatchback to be first cab off the rank for Holden small-car production

31 Mar 2009

AUSTRALIA’S first taste of General Motors’ new Delta II global small-car architecture will come in the form of next month's imported Cruze sedan, which made its worldwide and Australian debut at the Geneva and Melbourne motor shows respectively a month ago.

But the attention will swing to local production from the third quarter of next year, when Holden starts building its own Delta-based small cars, beginning with what GoAuto understands will be a Port Melbourne-designed five-door hatchback version of the Cruze for both domestic and export consumption.

The JG-series Cruze sedan, which has been built in South Korea by GM affiliate Daewoo since last November, received Australian Design Rule certification on March 11 and was due to have gone on sale in April.

However, unexpected delays have caught many Holden dealers short of small-car stock after the discontinuation of the Viva, which was previously sold here as the Daewoo Lacetti.

As in Europe, the Cruze is expected to be priced around the same as the Holden Viva it will replace, meaning a sub-$19,000 starting price.

Unlike the Lacetti and other existing Korean-built Holden models, however, the front-drive Cruze is expected to be a maximum five-star NCAP crash test performer, like Subaru’s Impreza, VW’s Golf and Renault Megane.

The car known as the Daewoo Lacetti Premiere in Korea will be sold as the Chevrolet Cruze in about 30 European countries. GM Daewoo exported its first shipment of 2000 sedans to Europe on February 24, and the Cruze received rave reviews when it went on sale in Europe in March. Middle East sales begin in the second quarter of this year.

 center imageFrom top: The Chevrolet Orlando and Holden Volt.

As revealed by Holden at the Melbourne show, the four-cylinder Cruze four-door will soon go on sale here with direct-injection 1.8-litre petrol and 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engines. While the 1.8 delivers 103kW in other markets, the diesel makes 110kW/320Nm elsewhere.

GoAuto can reveal that the volume-selling petrol Cruze sedan with a six-speed automatic transmission (the base-specification diesel will be manual-only) will return ADR 81/02 fuel consumption of 8.0L/100km.

The Delta-based hatch will be the second derivative to emerge from GM’s Delta II platform and will feature the same crisp interior design and build quality as the Korean-made Cruze sedan shown in Melbourne – as well as its spacious five-seater cabin, 60/40-split folding rear seat and six-airbag/stability control safety package.

Holden’s four-cylinder five-door might be marketed under a different name to the Cruze sedan, but is unlikely to wear Torana or Gemini badges.

Just as Ford will have the ability to produce a range of Focus-based vehicles in Australia from 2011, including the small Kuga SUV, so too Holden will have the technical ability to produce any GM model based on the Delta II chassis developed by GM Opel at Russelsheim in Germany.

Apart from the next-generation Astra model family that is expected to emerge at the Frankfurt motor show in September, this includes the Cruze sedan and its Delta-based hatch sibling styled by Holden, plus either a yet-to-appear wagon version of the Cruze or a production version of the Orlando wagon concept.

There is also potential for a two-door coupe/convertible iteration and, given the Delta II platform’s front and all-wheel drive configurability, a compact SUV that could revive the T2X concept first revealed at the 2005 Seoul motor show. The latter made an Australian appearance at the 2006 Melbourne show alongside the S3X, which went on to become Daewoo’s (and Holden’s) Captiva.

As previously reported, Holden openly admits it will be able to eventually produce GM’s Volt plug-in hybrid, which is also based on Delta II and slated for release here as a Holden in 2012.

GoAuto sources say production of Australia’s Cruze sedan will switch from Korea to join next year’s hatch in Adelaide from 2012, when both models will receive their first facelift.

It is unclear, however, if the sedan will be fully Australian-made like the hatch or simply assembled from ‘completely knocked-down’ kits as some insiders suggest.

Either way, our sources say that at least upstream versions of Holden’s homegrown hatch will be powered by a 1.4-litre version of the GM’s new small-displacement, turbocharged, direct-injection ‘Family 0’ engine range, known internally as SIDI (for stratified induction and direct injection).

The new 1.4 turbo engine is due to debut in the next Opel/Vauxhall/Saturn Astra but, in what would be a major political and PR coupe for Holden, which is due to close its Family II four-cylinder plant mid-year, the company is almost certain to build the high-tech GM engine itself in Port Melbourne.

With further help from the green fund for an engine that could be built to run on anything from E85 to LPG, the Family II plant’s cast-iron foundry could be converted to alloy or the inline four could be assembled in the same way as the V6, from imported alloy cylinder blocks.

“The Holden small car will introduce the new-to-Australian manufacturing, low-displacement, forced-induction petrol engine, for enhanced fuel efficiency,” Holden said itself on December 22, when it also committed to building both sedan and hatch variants of the Cruze.

“Start-stop hybrid technology and capacity to run on alternative fuels such as E85, diesel, LPG and compressed natural gas (CNG) are all being considered for the vehicle’s development.” The 104kW/200Nm forced-induction 1.4 engine will also power the Cruze sedan for the US, where it is to be produced in Lordstown from April 2010 as a 2011 model. It also commences US production in Michigan in December 2010.

A naturally-aspirated version of the Family 0 engine, which will also be built in 1.2-litre displacement, will charge the electric-drive Volt’s battery, but of more interest to Australia is a 140kW 1.6-litre version that could also built here.

Then there is the 2.0-litre performance flagship of the SIDI turbo engine range, which is already officially rated at 164kW but could be made to develop up to 200kW to create a successor for HSV’s Opel-sourced Astra VXR, which currently offers 176kW.

Our sources say HSV is considering the release of a turbocharged AWD Delta-based small-car similar in concept to replace the VXR in 2012.

Of course, Holden is yet to reveal what it will build at Elizabeth in 2010, but by the end of next year it could produce not only a low-cost version of the Cruze hatch to compete for fleets with the likes of Toyota’s Corolla, but also a more sophisticated and expensive 1.4 turbo version for export to ASEAN markets that recently became free-trade partners with Australia.

“This is our first small car in our new small car plan, so I can’t really reveal here today what our full-range small car strategy is, because that would be a pretty big tip into the hand of our competition,” said Holden chairman and managing director Mark Reuss at the Melbourne show.

“I can’t really tip the hand on what we’re doing next year. We revealed that it will be a car based on this architecture and that’s really all I can say today. I just can’t reveal to you our small-car strategy as it’s unfolding – it’s an unfair advantage to our competitors.” GM Holden design director Tony Stolfo also refuses to name Holden’s homegrown 2010 small-car, but told GoAuto the introduction of the ‘Cruze’ at Elizabeth would shore up the company’s future.

“The focus right now for Holden is to really look at what we need to do to make ourselves sustainable here in Australia.

“The introduction of the Cruze into the plant at Elizabeth, plus the continuation of the VE through into that plant, we’ve got two fantastic car lines, two fantastic architectures that we can build on for the future. So it’s pretty exciting for us.

“We haven’t identified which vehicle we will be building locally. But we will be building a small car, and to that point, when we do make that announcement, it will be exciting.”

Read more:

Holden restructuring could be only weeks away

Melbourne show: Holden comes clean on Cruze

Holden designs bew hatch

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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