Chevrolet will launch its new five-door hatch Cruze in autumn 2011. Our spies have taken these scoop photos of the new Cruze 5dr on test in Europe, seemingly benchmarking against what looks like a Kia Ceed.
Today Chevy's Cruze operates in a niche market in the UK; it's a three-box saloon in a segment obsessed by hatchbacks such as the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. Adding a five-door hatch Cruze should plunge Chevrolet back into the heartland of the sector.
'We are moving more into the mainstream part of the European market,' Chevrolet's European president Wayne Brannon told CAR. 'Hatchbacks make up 65% of that sector, and estates 30%. It makes sense for us to do a Cruze five-door.'
Chevrolet Cruze 5dr: the background
GM showed a Cruze five-door concept car at the 2010 Paris motor show, and our new spyshots suggest they've stayed faithful to the show car.
No three-door is planned at this stage, although one company source refused to rule it out.
And what's all this about a Chevy Cruze hot hatch?
Hold your horses. Although Chevrolet won the 2010 British Touring Car Championship at its first attempt with the Cruze saloon, the Americans aren't getting ideas above their station.
'A sporty Cruze is coming in 2011, but it's a cosmetic job not a full performance upgrade,' said Brannon. 'There's just not enough demand for a full GTI. If we wanted to do a full hot hatch with upgraded powertrain and brakes - that's a lot of work. The price spirals and you have to sell so many, we just can't justify that investment.
'But if you can do a cosmetic version, with around say 10% more power and a body kit, you don't need to do the homologation and validation testing of a full GTI...'
When can I buy a Cruze five-door hatch?
Expect to see the Cruze 5dr at the 2011 Geneva motor show, and it'll go on sale in the third quarter of 2011. That points to a September 2011 launch, just in time for the new 61-reg in UK dealers.