• Jan 11, 2008

click above for more images of the Chevy Beat Concept

Business Week reporter David Welch revealed a few days ago that General Motors may be developing a premium small car that targets the same type of customers who might consider a MINI. Dubbed the "micro-premium car", it would be positioned against the aforementioned MINI in the marketplace, as well as the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series. Under what brand it would be sold wasn't mentioned, and honestly we don't have the foggiest idea what brand besides Cadillac could match up against those heavyweights. At the same time, we have a difficult time imagining Cadillac following the same path downmarket that it did with the ill-fated Cimarron.

GM's Korean Daewoo subsidiary has a number of small platforms that could be used for such a car, but do any offer the dynamics required for a premium small car? Rear-wheel-drive is practically a must for such a car, so then we're looking at the Kappa platform that underpins the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky as a candidate. At the moment, it's the smallest RWD platform in GM's stable.



As for the design, Welch reports that GM hasn't even gotten to the clay model stage yet, so ideas probably just exist on paper or in CAD files. The Chevy Beat Concept (shown above) was voted the most popular design of three micro concepts that debuted last year and is earmarked for production, but no plans exist to sell it in the U.S.

With new CAFE standards on the horizon that require a higher average fleet fuel economy, it's a smart idea to develop a small premium car capable of returning those numbers. Nevertheless, with the questions of what will be used to build it and how it will be sold unanswered, GM's "micro-premium car" remains vaporware for now. Thanks for the tip, throwback!
[Source: BusinessWeek]


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  • 46 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      i'm a mini owner, and i think that none of the general's cars or platforms can really give me the same things i bought a mini for. and that chevy beat concept looks way too bulky. the only GM car that can really come close to the mini is the astra, and saturn has to build up its image before teens and twentysomethings are going to buy it....reselling opels is a smart first move, but more has to be done.
      • 7 Years Ago
      That's an awesome little car. I'd like to see that go in to production for sure... I'm just hoping that they won't make it in Korea like the Aveo. Those cars are junk compared to something like a Fit or even Yaris.

      If they can make this in the US or Canada to keep the quality and resale up, I think they'd sell a lot of them. Also, they'd have to provide good value for money. I can't see the average Mini or A3 customer mentioning something like this in the same breath. I think trying to sway a 1 series customer to this is a bit too lofty a goal, unfortunately.

      If they could make a couple hundred horsepower and keep this under $20,000, AND have a good independent suspension setup (to allow for good after market upgrades) as opposed to the rear torsion bar that they for some reason love using on their small cars, I think they'd have a hit.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Hey if anyone can do it, the General can. Look at what the aforementioned Cimmaron has turned into.

        I am willing to bet that Audi, BMW, Lexus et al, have each picked up a copy of the '08 CTS, and shipped it back to their respective factories for closer scrutiny. Anyone that didn't, would be stupid.

        I heard someone in another post say, that they didn't understand all the praise being lauded on GM for the CTS. Because other cars have also won these awards. True, but no other car has singly won all the awards that the CTS has and will bag within the next 12 months.

        P.S. They're still rolling in.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I own an Aveo and I don't think it's junk compared to the Yaris or Fit. Just because it has a GM nameplate, that does not make it junk.
        • 7 Years Ago
        That's all well and good, but you're talking about two completely different segments in comparing the CTS vs a small car. GM hasn't made a really good small car... ever. There is a vast sea of mid-sized luxury sedans out there... making a good small car that isn't crap with a moderate price is a bit harder, IMO. ESPECIALLY when you're trying to win over MINI loyalists.

        They'll have to provide something groundbreaking, aside from what doing what the Germans have been doing for years - which has worked for them with the CTS. A small fun to drive car won't be such a cakewalk, especially considering enthusiasts of cars like that and what they expect from after market support.
      • 7 Years Ago
      SAAB is the only brand thatt could pull this off as they could sell it in Europe also. Build it on the next generation Corsa platform. Per the Euro mags the current turbo Corsa is a real drivers car.
      • 7 Years Ago
      RWD required for a premium small car? The MINI and Audi A3 beg to differ.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Exactly my sentiments, it does not "have to be" RWD, I actually fail to see any benefit of rwd for a small car, put in good reliable FWD with decent power and there you have it. AWD might be something a bit more unique in a smaller car like that. And hey it might even sell a few more if you truly want to compete from an american manufacturer.

        Having said that, my impression is that they need to start with a good small car that sells in the everyday market before they tackle something more upscale.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I was just going to post that. I have an A3 and it's front wheel drive. That didn't stop me from buying it although I would have preferred RWD. Basically I wanted the GTI with a softer ride and nicer interior. If the General can price it right, they might have a winner. I see tons of mini's around.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I agree. RWD seems more appropriate for a roadster not a practical, small, premium. I think it would fit real nice with Saurn's euro-esque lineup. Want a cheep small car? Go to Chevy. Want a premium small car? Go to Saturn.
      • 7 Years Ago
      ^^ edit "By purchasing used you are also decreasing the need for new materials."
      • 7 Years Ago
      Small and premium? So, people will pay a lot for a little car? Hmm, seems like a niche item to me. If I have a lot of money, I'd get status or value. A premium little car is neither.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I am in Miami Beach at the moment. Lots of "status" cars. Lots of big cars; Hummers, Range Rovers, ... which will never see dirt, snow or tow a boat.

        Oddly enough, there are lots of MINIs too!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Saab = Mini fighter

      Saturn= Fit/Yaris fighter

      Pontiac = Scion fighter
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'd love it to be a Saturn. They already have the Astra. Why not the Corsa?

      But GM has two premium car brands in the US, Cadillac and Buick. Pick one.

      Lutz says Cadillac competes with BMW (sport luxury) and Buick with Lexus (not particularly sporty luxury).

      Honestly, this sounds kinda like the BLS-type car which is a Caddy already.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Throw a diesel in it and I'd think about it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Give it to saab. Maybe style it after the original 900.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Saab -> new 9-2X
        • 7 Years Ago
        or maybe 9-1x (Astra platform)
      • 7 Years Ago
      the problem with the cimmaron was not size but fact it was badge engineering. Even the average car buyer wasn't fooled by the Cavalier in a three piece suit. I honestly do not see the average american car buyer buying something like what they describe. I'm sure it will have sales numbers like the Mini, of about 3-6k a month. If GM trys this it should probably use Saab. How about a sonett?
        • 7 Years Ago
        People like to bring out dirt from the past about GM. I remember want Japan brought junk in the US. How about concentrating on the so perfect Japanese cars past and not on only GM's or the domestics. I've owned some of those these so call perfect cars from Japan and have found them to be the worst cars I've ever owned and I've owned many in my days.
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