Chevy Adds 5th Door to Cruze, Makes the Car Attractive

By Chris Haak

The Chevrolet Cruze compact has been on the market in the rest of the world for over a year, and has done reasonably well for GM in markets like Australia and South Korea.  US production in Lordstown, Ohio began in July, and it’s slated to hit dealer lots this month.  The car is sold as a Chevrolet Cruze in Europe, a Holden Cruze in Australia, and a Daewoo Lacetti Premiere in South Korea, but the only visual differences are powertrain choices, design details like grilles and bumpers.  All sheetmetal is identical among the variants.  Overall, GM currently sells the Cruze in 70 countries worldwide.

The problem is, vehicle-configuration preferences in most of the rest of the world are very different from those in the US.  In the US, most buyers equate five-door hatchbacks with the economy cars of the 1970s and 80s, and as a result, tend to avoid them.  The rest of the world finds fault with the limited utility and more upright style of a traditional American four-door sedan.  So the fact that the current Cruze is only available as a four-door sedan somewhat limits the car’s prospects in the rest of the world.  Enter the whiz-kids at Holden, GM’s Australian subsidiary.

The guys who did most of the heavy lifting on the Zeta platform that underpinned the lamented Pontiac G8 and the current Chevrolet Camaro have done a bit of minor surgery to the Chevrolet Cruze in advance of the 2010 Paris Motor Show.  By adding a rear hatch, they have transformed the car from a conservative sedan – whose styling I felt fell flat on its face against the more modern-looking 2012 Ford Focus – to a comely, sleek hatchback.  The best part of the Cruze hatchback is that it ditches the Cruze sedan’s Chrysler Sebring-like black sail panels in front of the car’s C-pillars; that seemingly simple change cleans up the car’s profile dramatically.

Are you ready for the bad news?  In spite of its good looks, the Cruze hatchback will not be sold in the US.  It will be produced in Australia for local consumption and some exports, and the company’s plant in South Korea will continue exporting the car to continental Europe.  The Cruze is also built in Russia, China, Thailand, and India.  Expect the production version of this car – which should be identical to what you see here, with the exception of the front LED lighting and perhaps the large wheels – to go on sale across Europe in mid-2011 at a price to be announced.

GM’s Press release follows below.  If you want GM to reconsider its decision to not offer the Cruze hatchback in the US, start the badgering and petitions now.

New hatchback is next chapter in Cruze success story
Cargo capacity for the Cruze hatchback is close to 400 liters and will feature 60/40 split rear seating.

  • Hatchback show car to be unveiled at Paris Motor Show
  • New model will build on Cruze sedan’s global appeal
  • Cruze hatchback cements Chevrolet’s mainstream credentials in Europe
  • One of four Chevrolet premieres in Paris

The story of the Chevrolet Cruze goes from strength to strength with the latest chapter heralding the launch of a new 5-door hatchback model, further evidence of Chevrolet’s intention to bring value for money to all mainstream segments in Europe.

A show car version of Chevrolet’s compact contender will be seen for the first time at the Paris Motor Show, on September 30. It will be one of four world Chevrolet premieres at the show.

With the introduction of the new Cruze hatchback, customers have an alternative body style to the traditional sedan and Chevrolet has raised the bar again with a vehicle that brings new levels of value against some of the more established competition.

According to Wayne Brannon, president and managing director of Chevrolet Europe, the potential for meeting further customer demand is significant. “Cruze is turning out to be a real success story. We are selling it in 70 countries around the world and it has recently surpassed the Aveo as our top selling passenger car nameplate globally.

“Hatchbacks play a critical role in many markets. The total compact segment in Europe represents around 4.8 million units which is over a quarter of the total market, with hatchbacks representing around 65% of that volume. We therefore expect to see increased business in a number of regions, while sending out a signal that Chevrolet is now a serious mainstream player in Europe.”

Since its launch in the spring 2009, the Cruze sedan has been warmly welcomed by markets all over the world, greeted as a step change for the brand with customers attracted to its coupe style, build quality, 5-star NCAP rating and driving dynamics. It was also elected the AUTOBEST car of 2010 by a jury of leading auto writers in Central and Eastern Europe.

The Chevrolet Cruze is a car particularly well suited to European driver tastes, a fact borne out by sales success across many of markets. So far in 2010, Cruze tops the compact sedan sales charts in many of the larger European markets including Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the U.K., where it is exceeding forecasted sales.

Outside of Europe, Cruze’s sales momentum is equally evident. In China alone, Chevrolet has sold nearly 90,000 Cruze since the start of the year, while the sedan is also selling well in Russia, parts of South America, and in India and other emerging markets.

Hatchback design
Chevrolet’s participation in the World Touring Car Championship with the Cruze is also currently paying great dividends. With four races left in the season, it currently leads both the drivers’ and team championships while also showcasing the dynamic qualities of the car to great effect.

The new Chevrolet Cruze 5-door hatchback will go on sale across Europe mid 2011 with prices announced nearer the launch date.

With its attractive sweeping coupe roofline and short overhangs at both the front and rear, the new Cruze hatchback has the same dynamic ‘stance’ as the sedan and will be instantly recognizable. It will benefit too from the same taut body ‘feel’ on the road, being built using the new body-frame integral system (BFI) which is complemented by the final tuning to chassis components. The BFI system results in high levels of stability and solidity.

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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7 Comments

  1. I don’t like it. Looks like a merging of European and japanese design cues.

    Also with the sweeping low hatch back, I question how much real cargo room you actualy gain. Looks like you loose about 2″ of rear headroom as well.

  2. Not sure that I agree with your comment about headroom, Mark. I don’t think they’ve released the actual measurements, but speaking of the external appearance, the doors are almost certainly the same between the sedan and hatch, and the shape of the roof over the back doors looks to be more or less the same between the two. I used my incredibly lame computer graphics skills to put the two cars’ profiles on the same photo for comparison purposes.

  3. I’m with Chris regarding the vehicle’s looks … I think the hatchback body style makes the Cruze look much more modern and sophisticated.

    I don’t know if this is an optical illusion, but when you look at the two pictures showing the cars in profile, it seems as if the hatchback has less front overhang, too, which helps with its proportions.

  4. The hatch has shorter front & rear overhangs but that may only be to help make the hatch comely for the show car.

    The real car may not keep those short overhangs – they may be necessary for crash engineering.

    That said….is your Cruze sedan image of a US spec Cruze or a Euro/Oz/Asia Cruze?

  5. Chris,
    You are right, the top of the sedan does drop more than I thought it did. Thanks for adding the side profile comparison view.

  6. sell chevy cruze hatch back in u.s,

  7. The Cruze sedan looks OK, but the 5-door is quite good-looking. And it think we all know which body is more useful. I hope GM decides to sell it here. Perfect car for me.

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