Click above for high-res gallery of the 2011 Chevy Cruze

They're here! The first official pics of the 2011 Chevy Cruze have been released by General Motors, and we're not ashamed to say it – we like it. Of course, we're comparing it to the current small car in GM's lineup, the Cobalt, so the bar is pretty low. That said, GM's new small car takes the split-grille motif made famous by the Malibu and makes it more interesting with sharp creases rather than rounded corners. The front end features headlights that extend up and "point" to the A-pillars, and a strong character line running the length of the vehicle sits below a concave bend that sweeps up to meet the windows.

GM claims that fit and finish of the Cruze will be world class for a small car, and that its interior will use "grained surfaces, soft-touch materials and low gloss trim panels" to improve its perceived quality. Unfortunately, no shots of the interior were provided, but you can catch a glimpse in this rear 3/4 shot.

The Cruze will be a global car, and as such it's going on sale in Europe first. It will makes its global debut at the Paris Motor Show in October, where European customers will be the first to check it out in person before it goes on sale in March 2009 overseas. It will be available at launch with a 112-hp 1.6L engine, a 140-hp 1.8L and a 150-hp 2.0L turbodiesel. The North American version will likely get GM's upcoming direct injected 1.4L four-cylinder. The Cruze will also offer a five-speed manual and GM's first application of a six-speed automatic in a small car.

The kicker? The 2011 Chevy Cruze will be built at GM's plant in Lordstown, OH where the current Cobalt and Pontiac G5 are built. Though it'll be built right in our own backyard, the Cruze reportedly won't be available in the U.S. for at least a year or two.

Check out AutoblogGreen's report on the new Cruze to discover its close connection with the Chevy Volt.

Related Gallery2011 Chevy Cruze

[Source: GM]


PRESS RELEASE

All-New Chevrolet Cruze Features Dramatic Design

Detroit - The first photographs of Chevrolet's all-new Cruze sedan - making its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show in October - reveal a dynamic four-door coupe that proves exciting design and value are not mutually exclusive.

On sale beginning in Europe from March next year, Cruze features a dramatic re-interpretation of the traditional sedan featuring Chevrolet's new global design language that is becoming a signature on all new products carrying the gold bowtie.

Cruze's arching roof-line, extending from the steeply raked windshield to its sloping rear pillars and short rear deck, brings coupe-like proportions to a compact sedan.

Wider and longer than most of its competitors, Cruze has a purposeful stance with its wheels located at the outer edges of the tautly drawn bodywork. Noticeably tight body panel fits and a restrained use of exterior trim add to a high quality, 'hewn from solid' appearance.

Cruze's dramatic profile is matched by bold front styling, with large headlamp housings that wrap around the front corners and sweep up, arrow-like, into the fenders and sculpted hood. Other distinct design themes include a concave shoulder line, the two-tier grille and a "wheels-out/body-in" stance. Inside, Cruze features a 'twin cockpit' design motif, first introduced in the iconic Corvette sports car.

"Our goal in designing Cruze was to be bold, not evolutionary," says chief designer Taewan Kim. "We wanted to take a big step forward, making a strong design statement for Chevrolet products around the world."

Visitors to the Paris show will see how Chevrolet's progressive design is also reflected in the quality of Cruze's interior. The use of grained surfaces, soft-touch materials and low gloss trim panels ensures a quality ambience that echoes the clean, harmonious design of the exterior.

At launch in Europe, Cruze will be available with 16-valve, 1.6-liter (112 hp/82 kW) and 1.8-liter (140 hp/103 kW) gasoline engines featuring variable valve timing (VVT) on both inlet and exhaust sides, giving more power as well as better fuel economy and lower emissions. A new 2.0-liter turbo diesel, developing 150 hp/ 110 kW and 320 Nm of torque adds power with even greater frugality. Five-speed manual gearboxes and an all-new automatic transmission, Chevrolet's first six-speed application in the compact segment, complete the powertrain menu.

With sales in Europe up by 23 percent for the first six months of 2008, Chevrolet is GM Europe's fastest-growing mainstream brand. The arrival of Cruze spearheads an exciting new product roll-out program that is expected to propel the brand to even greater success.

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

Cruze is the result of a development process harnessing GM's global expertise and is the first of a new family of compact products that will deliver world class quality. It will be backed by expected highest scores in all major crash safety ratings.

The Chevrolet Cruze will be available in Europe from March 2009, followed by other global markets with regional-specific engine choices.