Holden Cruze hot hatchback to debut at Geneva

A hot version of the Holden Cruze hatchback will go on sale in Australia either later this year or early in 2012 following its debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show in March.
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Badged as a Chevrolet, the production-ready vehicle will be based on the Australian-designed Cruze hatchback concept that was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show last September.

Like the Paris hatchback, the Cruze hot hatch was designed at GM Holden’s Victorian design studio in Port Melbourne.

Holden’s Emma Watts confirmed an Australian-made Cruze hot hatch would join the local line-up either at the same time as the rest of the range or slightly after.

“We will have our own version,” Ms Watts said.

Local production of the Holden Cruze hatchback will commence towards the end of this year, following the sedan variant, which is just weeks away from rolling off Holden’s Elizabeth production line in South Australia.

Holden and Chevrolet have remained tight-lipped on any further details of the Cruze hot hatch.

What is unknown is exactly how hot Holden plans to make the Cruze hot hatch.

Opel currently offers its Astra with a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces 132kW of power, and it appears the most likely option.

The Cruze and the Astra share the same GM Delta II platform, which means dropping the engine into the Cruze should not be overly difficult.

Less likely (or perhaps reserved for HSV) would be a variant of the 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged direct-injection engine that appeared in the Opel Astra-based GTC Paris concept last year. That vehicle produced an epic 213kW of power.

Performance like that would see it rival the likes of the Ford Focus RS (224kW) and the Subaru Impreza WRX STI (221kW).

To accommodate the extra power, the Cruze’s rear suspension and front-end design would need to undergo considerable reworking, which would be high cost and high effort.

Full details of the Holden Cruze hot hatch will be revealed when the Geneva Motor Show commences on March 3.