Last Fall, we spent some quality time debunking the myth that American consumers don't buy hatchbacks. The Europeans, however, need no such convincing, as five-doors and wagons rule the roost in many a segment overseas. Chevrolet understands this, which is why it has rolled out the Cruze hatchback in Geneva. With General Motors estimating that 65 percent of all compact sales in Europe are of the hatchback variety, this model is arguably more important than the sedan in much of the world.
Slated to go on sale in the middle of this year, the Cruze's 60/40 split rear seat and around 14 cubic feet of cargo space should add some utility to Chevy's very mature compact offering. Check it out in the gallery below and then hit the jump for GM's official presser.
Live photos copyright ©2011 Steven J. Ewing / AOL
Chevrolet has plenty to celebrate at Geneva 2011
* Full production version of Cruze hatchback
* New Aveo shows how good small sedans can look
* Camaro coupe and convertible coming to Europe
* Record figures in 2010
* Centenary year 2011
Whether it's having three model debuts, record European market share figures or a Centenary to celebrate, there will be plenty of activity on the Chevrolet stand (Hall 1) in Geneva between March 3 and 13.
Proof that the amount of news the company had in Paris in September, last year was not a one off, visitors to Chevrolet will again be greeted by an array of new product and good news stories, as its momentum in Europe continues to pick up pace.
Top of the bill is the world premiere for the production version of the sporty Cruze hatchback as well as the European debuts for the handsome new Aveo sedan and the iconic Camaro convertible. Chevrolet's multiple award-winning electric vehicle with extended range capability, the Volt, will not only be on display this time. The North American Car of the Year will also be available for short test drives as part of Chevrolet's activities at the show's green pavilion (Pavillon Vert) during press and public days.
Backing up all the new cars on the stand, Chevrolet recently announced its best market share ever in Europe in 2010, while this year the company embarks on an ambitious program of activity to mark 100 years since the first Chevrolet went into production.
The full production version of the new Cruze hatchback is shown for the first time at Geneva. The launch is perfect timing for Chevrolet, with the manufacturer celebrating winning the World Touring Car Championship for the first time with the Cruze four door in December.
The introduction of a new hatchback version gives customers an alternative body style to the award-winning sedan and is further evidence of Chevrolet's intention to bring value for money to all mainstream segments in Europe. The compact segment in Europe represents a quarter of the total market and hatchbacks play a critical role, representing around 65% of all compact segment sales.
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. The hatchback uses the same body-frame integral system (BFI) to ensure taut ride and handling, well suited to European tastes. It has already convinced Chevrolet customers around the world , with the Cruze notchback exceeding forecasts in 2010 to become the brand's best-selling passenger car.
Cargo capacity for the Cruze hatchback is close to 400 liters and it will feature 60/40 split rear seating. On sale is scheduled for mid 2011.
Widening the appeal of its new Aveo, Chevrolet's handsome new sedan version of the small car makes its European debut in Geneva.
From the front, the notchback and hatchback share the same powerful look with exposed twin-headlamps, dual port grille and compact taut body panels. The rising shoulder line of the sedan is particularly striking, giving the new four-door a premium profile, while the mildly flared wheel arches house wheels up to 17 inches, accentuating the upscale look of the small sedan.
Chevrolet expects the more mature design of the notchback to appeal to a different type of customer to the hatchback, in particular families. The sedan's practical credentials are evident in the levels of space it provides for a small car. With a 4,389 mm length and 1,735 mm width, the new Aveo is both longer and wider than the current model, giving it a spacious interior. Cargo volume is also among best in class at a generous 502 liters.
The new Aveo's interior is also characterized by modern design such as the motorcycle-inspired instrument binnacle with an analogue tachometer combined with a digital speedo and warning lights.
A comprehensive range of gasoline and diesel engines will be available, the gasoline options including two 1.2 liter versions (at 70 hp and at 86 hp), a 1.4 liter unit (100 hp) and a 1.6 liter (115 hp). For the first time, Aveo will be offered with two versions of a 1.3 liter diesel engine (at 75 hp and at 95 hp) featuring Start/Stop technology. All engines incorporate the latest technologies such as variable valve timing, double continuous variable cam phasing and common rail fuel injection for the diesels.
Chevrolet's first 6-speed automatic transmission on a small car will feature on the Aveo 1.4 and 1.6 as an option in most markets; manual transmissions are of 5 or 6 speed depending on engine choice.
The Aveo sedan and hatchback will on sale across Europe in the summer.
Camaro coupe and convertible
The Camaro coupe and convertible are sure to get plenty of attention at Geneva. Available in V8 form when it goes on sale at selected Chevrolets dealers in September, Camaro's low-slung stance and front to rear body proportions remain true to the original concept, a design that acknowledges its legendary past without appearing retro.
Under the hood, Camaro's 432 hp, 6.2-liter V8 generates 569 Nm of torque to give the new Camaro the muscle to match its looks. With the six-speed automatic transmission, it delivers 405 hp/556 Nm and includes GM's fuel-saving Active Fuel Management system, enabling it to cruise on only four cylinders during light load conditions.
Camaro's interior is characterized by the perfect balance between heritage and modernity, while detailing, such as the large, chrome-trimmed controls, low-gloss surfaces and premium fabric.
Camaro's chassis features electronic stability control (GM's StabiliTrak system) and traction control as standard equipment while an adjustable "Sport" mode is fitted for performance driving, such as on track days. A Launch Control feature will ensure quick and safe take-offs with large, ventilated disks (355/365 mm front/rear), complete with four-piston aluminum Brembo calipers for impressive braking performance.
A comprehensive range of safety features includes dual-stage front airbags, front seat- mounted thorax side airbags and head curtain airbags for front and rear occupants.
The coupe's convertible sibling was designed from the outset to be built in both coupe and convertible form – features the latest power-folding top which takes only 20 seconds to retract. Built in partnership with the same manufacturer as the Corvette convertible, it folds into a simple "Z" pattern and latches with a single, convenient handle located at the center of the windshield header. It is made of thick, durable canvas and features acoustical headliner material that provides a quiet ride when the top is up. It also incorporates a glass rear window and rear window defogger.
Chevrolet's engineers are keen to point out that the convertible is no boulevard cruiser but can match the coupé for ride and handling, thanks to four strategic reinforcements which enhance the already stiff body structure; these include a tower-to-tower brace under the hood, transmission support reinforcement brace, underbody tunnel brace and front and rear underbody "V" braces.
2010: a year of record sales
Winning the WTCC wasn't the only cause for celebration at Chevrolet in 2010. The year culminated in total European sales of 477,194 vehicles, an improvement of 12.0 percent over 2009 and the second best result ever for Chevrolet in Europe.
Chevrolet's market share in Europe rose to an all-time high of 2.5 percent. The year ended with all-time market share records for the fourth quarter of 2.7 percent and for December of 3.0 percent. Over the year as a whole, market share improved in a total of 21 countries in Europe.
2011: Centenary year
The strong results set the scene perfectly for 2011, Chevrolet's centenary year. It was in November 1911 that renowned Swiss born racing driver and engineer Louis Chevrolet, in collaboration with American businessman William Crapo Durant, founded the Chevrolet Motor Company in Flint, Michigan, with the first Chevrolet car being the luxurious six cylinder Classic Six which went into production soon after. To mark the historic occasion, the company is planning an ambitious program of activity. Watch out for more news throughout the year.
Chevrolet is General Motors' largest global brand with annual sales of about 4 million vehicles in more than 130 countries. It is the fourth biggest global car brand in terms of sales and also one of the fastest growing brands in the world. Chevrolet cars combine passion, bold design and practicality. They provide outstanding value for money. After re-launching the brand in Europe in 2005, Chevrolet more than doubled its sales to over 500,000 in 2008. In 2010, Chevrolet grew its market share in Europe to 2.5 percent, selling 477,194 cars. Chevrolet has a network of more than 2,700 dealers and service points in Europe. The Chevrolet line-up includes the Spark city car, the small Aveo, the compact four-door Cruze, the Captiva SUV and the legendary Corvette sports car. In 2011, Chevrolet is launching seven new cars: the all-new Orlando family van, the new Captiva SUV, the Corvette Grand Sport Coupé, the all-new five-door and four-door Aveo, the five-door Cruze, the Camaro coupé and convertible and the award-winning extended-range Volt electric car. Chevrolet's biggest markets in Europe are Russia, Italy, Germany, Spain, France and Turkey. Established in the U.S. by Swiss émigré Louis Chevrolet in 1911, the brand is celebrating its centenary in 2011. More information on Chevrolet can be found at http://www.chevroleteurope.com or http://media.chevroleteurope.com.