2008 Paris Auto Show – Chevrolet Debuts Cruze and Orlando Show Car

By Brendan Moore


The 2008 Paris Show kicks off tomorrow with two press days, but GM and its Chevrolet division got a jump on the start of the show by having media in earlier this evening (Paris time – ET minus 6 hours) for a look at the 2009 Chevrolet Cruze, the highly anticipated replacement for the Cobalt here in the States. The Chevrolet Orlando seven-seater vehicle (not an SUV and not a minivan, the journalists were told) was also shown for the first time. And although they were much more muted debuts, since they have been extensively shown in the States, the Chevrolet Volt and the Chevrolet Camaro made their European debuts, which afforded many of the journalists from Europe their very first chance to look at and touch both cars.

Let’s start with the car that will be the most important car to GM in Europe and the U.S. for the foreseeable future – the Chevrolet Cruze.

That’s right, the Cruze. Not the Volt or the Camaro, but the Cruze. The Volt will erase a great deal of GM’s gas-guzzling stigma, and, show off its technological prowess, provided it works. But they’re not going to sell a lot of those in the next few years. First, because it won’t even start production until 2010, and second, production will be in low numbers initially, and GM expects to lose money on the car for sometime. The Camaro? Yeah, they’ll make money on it, it’s a halo car, it has iconic looks, and all that, but again, not enough sales to move the very big needle over at GM.

The Cruze is the car that will be tasked with doing the heavy lifting of producing a lot of sales.

After a brief introduction by Fritz Henderson, GM’s chief executive officer, and Ed Welburn, GM’s design head, a panel off the side of the stage was lifted, and the Cruze was revealed to the press, which swarmed the car as soon as they got the high sign.

Based on its attractive appearance, the high level of fit and finish, and standard equipment offered on the car, it looks as if the Cruze will be up to the task. The proof of the pudding will be the driving, of course, but it looks as if Chevrolet has all the other boxes checked at this point. The car certainly looks more expensive, inside and out, than its suggested price of right under $20,000 in the United States would imply. The Cruze models in North America won’t get the very good 2.0 liter diesel enigine that Europe will have, but will get both the 1.6 liter and the 1.8 liter gasoline engines with an available six-speed automatic. The 1.6 liter with the six-speed automatic is expected to achieve over 40 mpg on the highway. The Cruze is not just an improvement over the Cobalt; it is a massive leap forward.

Ed Welburn also introduced the Chevrolet Orlando show car at the same time, but after the Cruze intro, and also after some hip-hop dancers hip-hopped around the Orlando while it was being wheeled out. Although it is on the same platform as the Cruze, the seven-seater vehicle is large by European standards (but not by American ones). Even though it has some SUV design cues, it’s not available with AWD, and doesn’t make any pretense about being an off-road vehicle; it’s a people carrier that is a lot better-looking than most minivans. I asked Ed Welburn how they selected the name of the show car, and he said that one of his staff came up with it, after thinking about designing a great vehicle to pile into and go to Disney World or Universal Studios located in Orlando, Florida. Ed Welburn really likes the name, as he told me himself. I was honest with him, and told I wasn’t really crazy about the name, and even less enamored of it after I heard the anecdote about the genesis of that name, but I don’t think I’ll get a vote if (more likely, when) something like the Orlando goes into production.

Some observations about the Chevrolet event: the European media liked the Camaro, and the beautiful models draped over the Camaro or posing next to the Camaro, very much, but it was standing room only around the Volt all night. There was a queue to sit in the Volt for the first few hours of the event, and many journalists came back for a second look. The European auto journalists are very interested in the Volt as an engineering premise and as a car that has the potential to change the composition of the population of cars on the road. They are curious as to how GM ‘s offering is going to measure up against the Nissan EV scheduled in 2010, the forthcoming Honda Insight, the future next-generation Toyota Prius, etc.

Its obvious the GM has great aspirations for Chevrolet in Europe, and seems very confident that it will continue to prosper in the region. And when I asked Wayne Brannon, Executive Director and CEO of Chevrolet Europe GmbH, if GM wasn’t a little concerned about Vauxhall, Opel and Chevrolet all competing in the same geographic areas in similar segments, he replied that there was enough delineation from a pricing perspective so that GM wasn’t worried about that.

There is palpable concern among the people that are connected to the automotive industry that the current financial meltdown in the United States will soon affect Europe just as badly. Sales this year have dropped in Europe, of course, but the situation is not as bad as in the U.S., either from a sales or a credit perspective.

Lastly, in an effort to leave no marketing stone unturned, Chevrolet gave every journalist there a copy of a not-for-sale CD issued on Rhino Records, titled Chevrolet Legends – Volume 1. There are tracks on the CD that mention, and sometimes extol, Chevrolets. Yes, American Pie by Don McClean is on there, but there’s also Blue Chevrolet by the Beat Farmers, The Road and the Sky by Jackson Browne, etc. I guess we’ll get Volume 2 next year. But, if I were running GM marketing, I’d do the same thing – there are lots of hit songs about some of the great cars that came out of GM over the years (409, Rocket 88, etc.) and it goes without saying that there just aren’t a whole lot of songs written about Toyotas and Hondas, so why not leverage that advantage?

For your reading pleasure, the official press releases from Chevrolet concerning the Chevrolet Cruze and the Chevrolet Orlando show vehicle:

October 1, 2008
• Compact sedan with ‘four-door coupé’ styling
• Upscale design and quality within a high value package
• Launch of new design language for Chevrolet in Europe
• On sale March 2009, with new 2.0-liter diesel and 1.6/1.8-liter gasoline choice

World Premiere:

All-New Chevrolet Cruze: Exciting Design Arrives in the Value Segment

The all-new Chevrolet Cruze, making its world premiere at the Paris Show, raises the bar for exciting design and build quality among value products in Europe’s compact car segment.

Its dynamic, four-door coupé-like looks bring a new dimension to traditional, three-box sedan design. With its signature grille, concave shoulder line and ‘dual cockpit’ interior design theme, the Cruze features Chevrolet’s new global design language that is becoming a signature on all new products carrying the gold bowtie.

The Cruze is the result of a development process, harnessing GM’s global resources, which focused on setting new design and quality benchmarks for value products in the compact segment. “Our goal was to be revolutionary, not evolutionary,” says Chief Designer Taewan Kim. “We wanted to take a big step forward, making a completely new design statement for Chevrolet products around the world.”

Dynamic Appeal

The arching roofline, extending from the steeply raked windshield into the sloping rear pillars, is a stand-out exterior design feature. It visually stretches the Cruze’s glasshouse, bringing a four-door coupé-like look to this segment for the first time.

A distinctive concave shoulder line that flows uninterrupted from the headlamps into the rear lights is set to become a signature Chevy design cue, together with the dual-port grille split by a body-colored crossbar bearing the gold bowtie.

Wider and longer than its predecessor, the Cruze has a purposeful, well-planted stance with its wheels, up to 17 inches in size, located at the outer edges of the tautly drawn bodywork. Noticeably tight panel fits and shut-lines, together with a restrained use exterior trim, add to the ‘hewn from solid’ look, bringing premium class design quality to the value segment of the market.

The bold headlamp housings wrap around the front corners and sweep up, arrow-like, into the fenders, enhancing the Cruze’s dynamic appeal. The clear polycarbonate outer lenses accommodate ‘jewel effect’ light detailing. The twin halogen bulbs are deep set within their bright finished pods, accentuated by a piano black bezel above and beneath. This dual-bezel design also adds an upscale appearance uncommon in the segment.

The hood is heavily sculpted along its sides to integrate with the swept headlamps and the rising concave shoulder line. This strong feature continues along the length of the car before melding into the flush-mounted, wraparound rear light units and deck line. The trunk lid features an integrated spoiler sculpted into its rear edge.

The clean, streamlined appearance of the Cruze not only appeals to the eye. A highly competitive 0.31 cd also benefits aerodynamic performance and fuel consumption.

High Quality Interior

The revolutionary design theme continues inside the Cruze. The interior transplants a distinctive Chevy styling cue – the signature ‘twin cockpit’ layout of the Corvette. The lower fascia panels, color-matched with the front seat inserts, branch out symmetrically either side from the center stack, bringing driver and passenger closer to a ‘shared’ experience.

Just as revolutionary is the interior quality. This is reflected in the application of grained surfaces, soft-touch materials and low gloss trim panels. It all contributes to a cabin quality ambience that echoes the clean, harmonious design of the exterior. For example, the integrated center stack, housing infotainment and air conditioning displays and controls, eliminates traditional ‘picture framing’, combining them in a clean and modern presentation.

Three-dimensional math modeling was used in the design of the main instrument cluster. The three analogue speedometer, tachometer, fuel/temperature gauges have LED backlighting for clear, crisp illumination in white and ice blue.

The roomy cabin can comfortably accommodate five adults. It offers rear passengers exceptional space, with more leg, head and shoulder room than usually found in this class.

The extensive infotainment choice includes a DVD-based satellite navigation system offering voice recognition and a 7-inch map display, a segment ‘first’ for Chevrolet. The four and six speaker audio systems also offer inputs to play music stored on an MP3, iPod or memory stick. Uplevel systems feature a hard disk drive for permanent onboard storage of music, one of its first applications in this market segment.

Strength in Depth

The Cruze’s breakthrough design appeal is, of course, more than skin deep. Its architectural components were co-operatively engineered at GM facilities in Germany, the United States, Australia and Korea. “In key areas, such the body structure, suspension, safety and electrical systems, we have drawn on GM ‘best practices’ around the world,” says Peter Mertens, Global Vehicle Line Executive for compact cars. “It’s an all-new vehicle that has been globally developed for a global market.”

The Cruze’s body structure is the stiffest in its class – with a torsional rigidity 140 percent greater than that of its predecessor. This provides the solid foundation for outstanding running refinement and comfort, with standard-setting levels of suppression for noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). The structure also plays a key role in securing an expected maximum five-star NCAP crash safety rating in Europe, the United States, as well as in Korea and China.

Under its hood, the Cruze offers an equally impressive powertrain line-up, which includes an all-new automatic transmission, Chevrolet’s first six-speed application in the value segment, in addition to five-speed manual gearboxes. Both 16-valve, 1.6-liter (112 hp/82 kW) and 1.8-liter (140 hp/103 kW) gasoline engines feature variable valve timing (VVT) on both inlet and exhaust sides, giving more power as well as lower fuel consumption and emissions. Respectively, these engines deliver zero to 100 km/h acceleration in 12.4 and 9.8 seconds, with combined cycle fuel consumption of 6.7 and 6.8 l/100 km.

The new 2.0-liter turbo diesel, developing 150 hp/110 kW and 320 Nm of torque from 2,000 rpm, adds power with even greater frugality. It features common-rail, direct and multiple fuel injection with variable geometry turbocharging. The result is strong performance (zero to 100 km/h in 9.4 seconds) with fuel consumption over the combined cycle of just 5.8 l/100 km. After launch, a 125 hp/92 kW version with 300 Nm of torque will also be offered.

On the road, the Cruze delivers a driving experience that fulfills the dynamic promise of its looks. Customers will appreciate suspension, braking and steering systems that have been tuned for European priorities, striking a fine balance between agility and good ride refinement. Front suspension is by McPherson strut, with side-load compensation to reduce sliding friction. At the rear, a compound crank development of the torsion beam offers space and weight savings, while allowing precise tuning for individual model applications.

New Era

With sales in Europe up by 23 percent for the first six months of 2008, Chevrolet is GME’s fastest-growing mainstream brand. The Cruze enters showrooms in March next year and will spearhead a new product roll-out program that is expected to propel the brand to even greater success. Each new offering will pick up the design baton of the Cruze, inspired by its signature design language and its focus on quality within a high value package.

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

October 1, 2008

World Premiere:
• Distinctive SUV-like styling
• Adaptable seven-seat accommodation with flat load floor configurability
• Latest-generation 2.0-liter turbo diesel power

Chevrolet Orlando Show Car Signals Entry into New Segment for the Brand

The Orlando show car is a clear indication that Chevrolet is considering an expansion to its portfolio with a seven-seat multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) with distinctive sport-utility-like design, adaptable seating and impressive interior space.

Based on the recently announced all-new Cruze compact sedan, the Orlando show car carries Chevrolet’s signature design language into a new vehicle segment. It explores the potential of combining the versatility attributes of a sport utility, a family van and a wagon in a single execution.

Chevrolet Orlando cuts a distinctive silhouette, replacing conventional monocab proportions with a more defined contrast between the hood and windshield lines. With flared fenders instead of a flat side-body, Orlando has a muscular stance that gives it the appearance of a sport utility vehicle, yet it offers dynamic ride and handling, excellent fuel efficiency and easy entry thanks to its car-based architecture.

Inside, the five-door Orlando is designed to meet the needs of families and those who need plenty of seating capacity with adaptable, theater-style seating in three rows that comfortably accommodate up to seven occupants. Whenever load carrying becomes a priority, the spacious cabin can be quickly transformed into a large cargo area. A generous 2,760 mm wheelbase and wide front and rear tracks provide Orlando with outstanding interior roominess.

Chevrolet’s latest-generation, 2.0-liter turbo diesel, developing 150 hp/110 kW and 320 Nm of torque, provides a powerful and efficient powertrain.

Strong Design Statement

Orlando takes Chevrolet’s design into the multi-purpose vehicle segment. The front features the brand’s signature twin-port grille and the large, sweeping headlamp housings seen on the Cruze. It also incorporates a concave shoulder line that extends along the body into the wraparound tail lights, another design feature from the Cruze that will distinguish future-generation Chevrolet products.

This distinctive look is complemented by the flared fender lines, defining a ‘wheels-out/body-in’ stance that visually lowers the higher roof line. The ice-blue theme for instrument illumination is also used on the exterior of Orlando in the laser-etched surfacing of the headlamps, tail lights and full-length glass roof.

Inside, Orlando features Chevrolet’s ‘dual cockpit’ design theme, with grained, dark grey accents extending outwards either side of the center stack.

The cabin is designed to meet the demands of families and those who need plenty of seating capacity with infotainment options and navigation. Overhead, a storage compartment extends along the center of the roof, providing useful stowage space for rear passengers. Design details include a center stack recess to hold a personal device/MP3 player when it is connected to the USB or Aux ports. Further storage space is provided inside the floor console, the second row center arm-rest and under the floor in the rear.

The raised roof enables a theater-style seating layout. It provides all occupants, particularly children, with an improved view inside and outside the vehicle, while enabling conversation between all those on board.

Adaptable Interior

A generous 2,760 mm wheelbase, 75 mm longer than that of the new Cruze sedan, and front and rear tracks 40 mm and 30 mm wider, provide Orlando with seating and cargo-carrying space that is among best-in-class for compact MPVs.

It is a true seven-seater, with second and third row legroom of 950 mm and 753 mm, respectively. The reverse faces of these seat backs are covered in a tough, metal finish and can be folded completely flat for easy loading. A range of occupant and load-carrying configurations is provided by 60/40 second-row and 50/50 third-row split folding seating.

“We focused on giving Orlando a strong, robust appearance,” says Designer Seungwoo Kim. “It draws on Chevrolet’s tradition for honest, simple design, while at the same time extending our new design language into the compact multi-purpose vehicle segment.”


COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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  2. Please bring diesel power to the US!!

  3. The Cruze will have a 1.4 liter engine in the US. Engine choices are different in Europe.

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