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Paris show: Chevy to debut Trax SUV

Making Trax: The Chevrolet Trax would enable Holden to return fire against Ford’s upcoming EcoSport mini-SUV.

Holden interested in Chevrolet Trax sub-compact SUV that is set for Paris debut

15 May 2012

HOLDEN is taking a close look at Chevrolet’s forthcoming Trax sub-compact SUV – an image of which has been released months ahead of its world public debut at the Paris motor show in September – with a view to selling it in Australia wearing lion badges.

GM Holden senior product communications manager Kate Lonsdale described the Trax as a “pretty exciting” entry to a growing market segment, and a vehicle the company is “taking a very close look at”, but was unable to confirm it for Australia at this stage.

Few details have so far been revealed about the Trax – which will be sold in more than 140 countries – other than a claim of class-leading cargo space and room for five passengers, with an interior “executed to standards usually found in more expensive vehicles”.

Chevrolet Europe president and managing director Susan Docherty said the SUV “delivers the flexibility, great fuel economy and car-like handling that urban explorers require”.

The Trax bears little resemblance to an identically named 2009 New York motor show concept, which was designed at GM’s design studio in South Korea and reflected the work of Australian former Holden designer Max Wolff, who has since moved to Ford as design director for the Lincoln luxury brand.

Ms Lonsdale told GoAuto she is not aware of any Australian design or engineering input to the production Trax, which would present Holden with the perfect foil against Ford’s Australian-designed but Indian-built EcoSport, due to arrive Down Under during the second half of next year.

137 center imageFrom top: Chevrolet Trax concept, Buick Encore and Opel Mokka.

With chunky styling and a deep front apron, the Trax is likely to be a reskinned version of the Buick Encore and Opel Mokka, which look almost identical to each other inside and out, and are based on the Barina light-car platform.

“It has been designed by Chevrolet and it is on a Chevrolet platform but (the Buick, Mokka and Trax) do share components,” said Ms Lonsdale.

Chevrolet said the Trax evolves the brand’s design language and “exhibits SUV toughness and capability in a small package through a muscular exterior design and wide athletic stance”.

Holden chairman Mike Devereux expressed enthusiasm for the Buick Encore when it was unveiled at the Detroit show in January, describing it as “cool” and “a segment-buster”, resulting in speculation that it could come to Australia wearing Holden badges.

Globally, Chevrolet is more closely aligned with Holden than General Motors’ more upmarket Buick and Opel brands, meaning a re-badged Trax could better fit within the Holden range, enabling the brand to go head-to-head against a growing number of sub-compact SUVs including the Subaru XV, Skoda Yeti, Nissan Dualis and Suzuki SX4.

The Mokka is also being investigated for release under Opel’s forthcoming Australian range as a more upmarket rival for the likes of Volkswagen’s Tiguan and perhaps even the BMW X1 and Audi Q3.

This would leave Opel – which will launch here in September – to maintain its differentiation from Holden.

Drivetrains that will be offered on the Mokka in Europe could be shared with the Trax, including 1.6-litre naturally aspirated and 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engines plus a 1.7-litre diesel, attached to front-drive or all-wheel-drive systems via six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.

Another planned Paris debutante from General Motors, the Opel Adam premium light car, is also under consideration for Australia.

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