Tony O'Kane | Jun 4, 2009

HOLDEN BOSS Mark Reuss has reportedly confirmed that the Australian automaker will design, develop and build a new small hatchback that will be sold in both Australian and foreign markets, but Holden spokesman Scott Whiffen was keeping things close to his chest when contacted by TMR.

We've known for some time now that the Australian-built hatchback would be based on the same Delta II platform as the Cruze, Volt and the latest Opel Astra, but until now it hasn't been clear what Holden's intentions for the car were.

After speaking with Drive yesterday, Holden Chairman and Managing Director Mark Reuss said the new car would be an all-Australian affair, and may have significant export potential.

While based on the Cruze's underpinnings, steering and suspension hardware would be tuned by Holden's engineers for a more refined, upmarket feel. Holden won't be drawn on what powertrain configurations will be offered, but current speculation says the turbocharged 1.4 litre engine used by the Opel Astra is on the shortlist.

Holden also declined to comment on whether the car's engines would be built in Australia, however it appears production is slated for the third quarter of 2010.

2009_holden_cruze_04

At this stage, the car's styling is still a mystery. However, don't bank on it being a clone of the 2010 Opel Astra or a be-hatched Cruze - word on the street is that it will bear a strong family resemblence to the VE Commodore.

With Opel on the verge of exiting the GM empire, a new export market for Holden may be created by the withdrawl of the Opel-sourced Astra from Vauxhall's UK lineup.

Importing cars from Holden may be an enticing prospect for GM's UK subsidiary, and if the end product is indeed as refined as Mark Reuss says it will be, it may be an attractive alternative to GM's Korean offerings.

When will we hear more about Holden's upcoming hatchback? We're not sure. Holden is understandably remaining cagey about the project, and isn't keen to spill any more beans. We'll keep pumping them for info, but for the time being Holden is keeping its cards close to its chest.

"We're going to have to remain mysterious about the hatch for the time being," Holden spokesman Scott Whiffin told TMR.

"We're really excited about the future car, but right now we're focused on launching the sedan version of the Cruze into the market."

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