Update: Comments from Holden added.
WITH A PRODUCTION version expected to go on sale in the US as the Chevrolet Aveo, the possible next generation Holden Barina has been previewed this week in the form of the Aveo RS concept - built right here in Australia.
Former Holden design chief Mike Simcoe is responsible for the Aveo RS' styling.
Holden Product Communications Manager, Kate Lonsdale, told TMR today that while the Aveo RS is a showcar only, it could end up as the next Barina.
"The car was actually built here in our technical centre in Port Melbourne," Ms Lonsdale told TMR.
"We've got a reputation for building good show cars. We've got great facilities for building them, so we were given the job by GM."
While no word has been given on whether the Aveo RS concept will form the basis of the next generation Barina (along with the next Chevrolet Aveo and Daewoo Kalos), Ms Lonsdale did not write the idea off.
"This is purely a showcar at this stage, but it could potentially be a next-generation Barina. It's certainly something we'll be keeping a very close eye on."
"Obviously we look at everything GM has to offer, but this would certainly be one that we would be very keen to have a close look at," Ms Lonsdale added.
With sharper lines and a longer, more flowing profile than the current model Barina, the Aveo RS concept brings a more upmarket look to the model - just what the next generation Barina needs if it is to compete with the likes of the stylish Ford Fiesta.
"The Aveo RS show car demonstrates how progressive design can inject personality into a small car," Michael Simcoe, Executive Director for GM's North American Exterior Design department said.
"We want customers to see it and have an emotional reaction to it."
GM has so far offered little in the way of specific production details. The production version of the new Aveo/Barina however will likely see the complex headlights and tail-lights dropped - along with the 19-inch wheels and aggressive body kit - in favour of more production-friendly components.
As with the outside appearance, the interior of the five-seater Aveo RS is likely to lose much of its concept-only features, such as the complicated instrument cluster and leather-wrapped dash, before it reaches production.
The Aveo is scheduled to be the first GM model built on the Gamma II platform, a version of the Fiat-GM developed Gamma/SCCS platform used most recently by the Opel Corsa, Opel Meriva and Alfa Romeo MiTo.
Drivetrain details for the production Barina have yet to be revealed, but the Aveo RS at least is powered by a turbo-charged 1.4 litre four-cylinder Ecotec engine producing 103kW and 200Nm of torque - expected to debut in the Cruze, as well.
Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.
Holden CEO and Managing Director Alan Bately is expected to make an announcement on the Aveo's future at the Detroit Auto Show within next the 24 hours.