WHILE HSV HAS decided not to offer the turbocharged Vauxhall Insignia VXR in Australia and to discontinue the imported Astra VXR, development of a Cruze-based performance model is well underway.
HSV's Managing Director Phil Harding confirmed on Monday that the Clayton-based company was investigating adding a performance-tuned Cruze to its line-up, although he declined to offer any solid technical details on the forthcoming model.
TMR has learned that HSV's Cruze will be based on the locally-built model that's set to enter production at Holden's South Australian plant in 2010.
The decision to move forward with a Cruze-based HSV model hinged on local production of the car, and work on the project only began after Holden announced late last year that Australian assembly of the car would go ahead.
It's unclear at this stage whether HSV's small car offering will be based on the sedan or hatchback version of the Cruze (both of which will be built in SA), but the sedan's greater structural rigidity may see it get the nod.
A hatchback, however, would be a more direct replacement for the now-discontinued Astra VXR.
With the Cruze being built on General Motors' versatile Delta II platform (which also underpins the new Astra in Europe), a variety of engine options exist for HSV's model.
Neither Mr Harding nor HSV spokesperson Simon Frost would be drawn on precise specifications, but both confirmed that diesel engines are not being considered.
As the Delta-platformed Astra VXR utilises a turbocharged 2.0 litre inline four developing 177kW, there's a great deal of power-making potential for the Cruze.
At this stage, the most powerful petrol engine used by the model is a naturally-aspirated 1.8 litre inline four-cylinder engine with 104kW of power and 176Nm of torque.
Suspension will be modified to improve handling, but it remains to be seen whether HSV sticks with the Cruze's rear beam axle set-up or ditches it in favour of the Euro-market Astra's independent rear suspension.
Styling will also be changed for HSV's Cruze, with new bumpers, wheels and other detail changes signifying the car's performance intent.
A launch date for the car has yet to be announced, but with local production of the Holden Cruze slated to begin in the third quarter of 2010, don't expect to see more on HSV's small car until well into next year.