While its formal introduction won't take place until the Paris Auto Show in October, Chevrolet has released early photos and design details about its Cruze Sedan. The first of an all-new generation of fuel-efficient General Motors small cars, this slick four-door initially goes on sale in Europe next March, and joins Chevy's U.S. lineup in mid-2010 as a 2011 model. Built on GM's new global compact car architecture, the Cruze is slightly larger than the current Cobalt, which it will ultimately replace over time.
While the Euro Cruze will offer a choice of 1.6- and 1.8-liter gasoline engines as well as a 2.0-liter turbodiesel, its U.S. counterpart will be fitted with a turbocharged version of the same 1.4-liter direct-injected in-line 4 to be used in the Chevy Volt. This variation of GM's Family Zero engine lineup, paired with either a five-speed manual transmission or a new six-speed automatic option, promises to deliver spritely performance while making a major contribution to General Motor's Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) cause. Although official EPA ratings are still a long way off, a Chevy spokesperson confirmed that "we expect the Cruze to have segment-leading fuel economy -- and that it will significantly exceed the Cobalt XFE's numbers." That high-high-mileage Cobalt variant currently sets its class benchmarks with 25/36-mpg city/highway stats.
Visually, the new Cruze reflects what GM sees as a quantum leap in its approach to creating a small car with true global appeal. According to chief designer Taewan Kim, "Our goal in designing Cruze was to be bold, not evolutionary. We wanted to take a big step forward, making a strong design statement for Chevrolet products around the world." Outside, that intent manifests itself in the car's crisply rendered sheetmetal, Malibu-like dual-grille front fascia and a "wheels-out/body-in" presence with short front/rear overhangs. The spacious interior also steps up the packaging game, using soft-touch surfaces, low-gloss trim panels and tastefully textured plastics to complement a "twin cockpit" dash treatment that's reminiscent of the original Corvette motif. All U.S.-spec Cruze models are slated to roll out of GM's assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.