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by Tim Beissmann

Holden says it will investigate the potential of introducing a small SUV to Australia following the release of images revealing the styling of a Chevrolet-badged compact crossover.

The patent images, first published by French magazine L’Automobile, show every angle of the upcoming Chevrolet SUV, which will share its Barina-sourced underpinnings and basic design elements with the Vauxhall/Opel Mokka and Buick Encore.

Compared with its cousins, the Chevrolet version gets a more upright grille similar to the Sonic (Holden Barina), bolder headlights, squarer bonnet and panel features, and more muscular wheel arches.

Holden already sells a number of localised Chevrolet vehicles – Barina, Barina Spark, Cruze, Captiva 5, Captiva 7, Colorado – and will add to that list later this year with the Volt and Colorado 7. As a result, there is a significant crossover between the two brand’s design languages, and it’s not difficult to imagine a Holden based on the small Chevrolet SUV design.

 

Holden senior product communications manager Kate Lonsdale said the local manufacturer would “keep a close eye on” the new Chevrolet SUV, but said there were no firm plans to launch a Holden-badged version at this stage.

“We look at everything GM’s got to offer,” Lonsdale said.

“We’ve seen how popular a market that SUV segment is and it’s certainly not showing any signs of slowing.

“We’ll see if it’s appropriate and if we’ve got a market for it.”

 

If it were launched here, the compact model would fit into the ‘small SUV’ segment in the official VFACTS sales database. The segment has grown more than any other so far this year – up 68.1 per cent over 2011 – and it is now almost as popular as the ‘large’ segment, which is dominated by the Holden Commodore.

The compact Holden SUV would compete with the likes of the Hyundai ix35, Nissan Dualis, Subaru XV and the Volkswagen Tiguan. Ford will enter the segment in mid 2013 with the Fiesta-based EcoSport. Opel will look at the Mokka for our market, while a similar-sized Mazda CX-3 is also on the drawing board, though is unlikely to materialise before 2014.