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!