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by Tim Beissmann

The first image of the all-new Chevrolet Trax baby SUV has been revealed overnight, giving Australians a preview of the city-sized soft-roader sister brand Holden is expected to add to its crossover line-up in the near future.

Parent company General Motors says the Trax will be sold in more than 140 countries around the world beginning with Mexico in the fourth quarter of this year.

The small SUV category is the fastest-growing new-vehicle segment in Australia this year, with sales up more than 50 per cent across January and April compared with the corresponding months in 2011.

Holden does not currently have a vehicle in the small SUV segment, with its Chevrolet-sourced Captiva 5 officially classified as a medium SUV by industry sales publication VFACTS.

Despite its introduction to our market seeming a formality, Holden spokeswoman Kate Lonsdale said the local manufacturer had no announcement to make about the launch of a rebadged version of the Trax at this stage.

Lonsdale confirmed Holden was currently assessing the business case for the car, and said the brand was keeping a very close eye on the growth of the small SUV segment, which accounted for more sales than the large car segment for the first time last month.

The Chevrolet Trax will make its world premiere at September’s 2012 Paris motor show ahead of its European showroom debut in the second quarter of 2013.

If launched by Holden, the Trax would be unlikely to hit our shores before the middle of next year, around the same time as Ford will launch its Fiesta-based EcoSport small SUV.

The Trax would become the fourth SUV in Holden’s line-up, sitting beneath the Captiva 5, full-size Captiva 7, and the more rugged, ute-based Colorado 7.

The Barina-based Trax – teased in patent images revealed in March (middle and above) – shares its underpinnings and basic design with the Buick Encore and the Opel Mokka, the former designed primarily for the US and China, the latter for Europe and potentially also Australia.

GM is yet to reveal the specifications of the Trax at this stage, although the details of the Mokka give us a good idea of what to expect from Chevrolet’s version of the new small SUV.

The Mokka is 4280mm long, 1775mm wide, 1646mm tall and rides on a 2555mm wheelbase, making it a similar size to the Mitsubishi ASX.

The five-door, five-seater will be available in front- and all-wheel-drive with the choice of six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. Three engines – an 85kW/155Nm 1.6-litre petrol, a 103kW/200Nm 1.4-litre turbo petrol (from the Cruze), and a 96kW/300Nm 1.7-litre diesel – will be offered in the Mokka depending on the market. The Encore also features the 1.4-litre engine.

Although unconfirmed at this stage, GM is expected to source the powertrains for the Trax from the list above.

The Captiva 5 currently starts at $27,990 before on-road costs, suggesting that if the Trax is launched in Australia, it would likely start at under $25,000, undercutting the popular Subaru XV, Hyundai ix35, Mazda CX-5 and the Toyota RAV4.




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