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Tony O'Kane | Aug 22, 2008

GENERAL MOTORS has released the first handful of photographs of its upcoming Chevrolet Cruze, a compact sedan that in all likelihood will eventually replace Holden's rather uninspiring Viva.

From the front there's a passing resemblance to Holden's VE Commodore thanks to those large rectangular headlamps and strong, chiseled lines.

Its arched roofline is also reminiscent of Australia's most popular large car, and given GM's intent to offer the Cruze as a global product these similarities are perhaps more than a coincidence.

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The European market will be the first to sample the Cruze when it goes on sale there in March of next year, with other regional markets to follow close behind.

Two petrol motors will be offered to European buyers, an 82kW 1.6-litre and a 103kW 1.8-litre, while a grunty 110kW 2-litre turbodiesel sits at the top of the range.

Engine options may vary across other markets, however it wouldn't be surprising to see these motors come with the Cruze when it eventually heads to Australia.

There are two gearboxes on offer too, a five-speed manual for those who are fans of DIY shifting and an all-new six-speed auto for those that aren't. Power is delivered to the front wheels on all models.

That's all we know about the Cruze for now, but we'll have more tech specs and pricing information once the Cruze makes its official debut at the Paris Motor Show in October.

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Strategically speaking, the Cruze spearheads a new campaign by GM to rationalise its global product line-up and help rein in development, manufacturing and distribution costs. Meaning we can look forward to more globally-released cars from the General.

Now, how's that RHD Corvette coming along?

Detroit - The first photographs of Chevrolet's all-new Cruze sedan - making its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show in October - reveal a dynamic four-door coupe that proves exciting design and value are not mutually exclusive.

On sale beginning in Europe from March next year, Cruze features a dramatic re-interpretation of the traditional sedan featuring Chevrolet's new global design language that is becoming a signature on all new products carrying the gold bowtie.

Cruze's arching roof-line, extending from the steeply raked windshield to its sloping rear pillars and short rear deck, brings coupe-like proportions to a compact sedan.

Wider and longer than most of its competitors, Cruze has a purposeful stance with its wheels located at the outer edges of the tautly drawn bodywork. Noticeably tight body panel fits and a restrained use of exterior trim add to a high quality, 'hewn from solid' appearance.

Cruze's dramatic profile is matched by bold front styling, with large headlamp housings that wrap around the front corners and sweep up, arrow-like, into the fenders and sculpted hood. Other distinct design themes include a concave shoulder line, the two-tier grille and a "wheels-out/body-in" stance. Inside, Cruze features a 'twin cockpit' design motif, first introduced in the iconic Corvette sports car.

"Our goal in designing Cruze was to be bold, not evolutionary," says chief designer Taewan Kim. "We wanted to take a big step forward, making a strong design statement for Chevrolet products around the world."

Visitors to the Paris show will see how Chevrolet's progressive design is also reflected in the quality of Cruze's interior. The use of grained surfaces, soft-touch materials and low gloss trim panels ensures a quality ambience that echoes the clean, harmonious design of the exterior.

At launch in Europe, Cruze will be available with 16-valve, 1.6-liter (112 hp/82 kW) and 1.8-liter (140 hp/103 kW) gasoline engines featuring variable valve timing (VVT) on both inlet and exhaust sides, giving more power as well as better fuel economy and lower emissions. A new 2.0-liter turbo diesel, developing 150 hp/ 110 kW and 320 Nm of torque adds power with even greater frugality. Five-speed manual gearboxes and an all-new automatic transmission, Chevrolet's first six-speed application in the compact segment, complete the powertrain menu.

With sales in Europe up by 23 percent for the first six months of 2008, Chevrolet is GM Europe's fastest-growing mainstream brand. The arrival of Cruze spearheads an exciting new product roll-out program that is expected to propel the brand to even greater success.

"We are proud that Europe is leading the introduction for this global product," said Wayne Brannon, Executive Director, Chevrolet Europe. "Chevrolet has always stood for expressive value and Cruze delivers on that promise like never before. It further redefines Chevrolet with its design, quality, materials and great style inside and out. The fit and finish for gaps and interfaces sets a new standard for this segment in Europe and around the world."

Cruze is the result of a development process harnessing GM's global expertise and is the first of a new family of compact products that will deliver world class quality. It will be backed by expected highest scores in all major crash safety ratings.

The Chevrolet Cruze will be available in Europe from March 2009, followed by other global markets with regional-specific engine choices.

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