2017 Chevy Cruze Hatch to debut at Detroit auto show

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. will unveil the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatch on Monday at the Detroit auto show, a new entrant for the brand aimed to compete for younger buyers and with vehicles such as Ford Focus hatchback and a new five-door Honda Civic hatch.

The automaker said the sleek Cruze Hatch, based on the all-new 2016 Cruze sedan coming this spring, will go on sale this fall.

GM and Chevy considered offering a Cruze hatchback for the U.S. — which has been sold in markets such as China and Europe — years ago. Mark Reuss, GM’s head of global product development, reportedly has said not bringing the Cruze hatch to the U.S. was a “pre-bankruptcy planning mistake.”

“With 9 percent market growth in small hatchbacks last year, it’s the perfect time to bring the Cruze Hatch to America,” Alan Batey, president of GM North America President and Global Chevrolet, said in a statement. “As Cruze continues to set the tone for Chevrolet globally, it articulates the brand promise of offering cars with the latest technologies, more features and greater efficiency, performance and safety with fresh, distinctive styling.”

The hatchback Cruze version has the same wheelbase as the sedan, but has a roof and back with wraparound taillamps and a spoiler that is part of the top of the liftgate. The Cruze Hatch will offer 18.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat. And when that is folded down, cargo space grows to 42 cubic feet.

Chevy said the hatch will provide a sporty choice for customers and follows new entrants in new segments for the brand, including the Trax subcompact SUV. It also gets the brand into a segment that is popular among younger buyers, which all brands are competing for.

“It’s a missing component,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive.

American Honda Motor Co. Inc. will launch a new hatchback version of its redesigned Civic this year in the United States. Ford’s hatchback version of the Focus accounts for about 40 percent of Focus sales. The Hyundai Elantra, Volkswagen Golf and Mazda3 also compete in the segment.

Pricing on the Cruze Hatch will be announced closer to its launch, a GM spokeswoman said. The 2016 Cruze sedan, which was unveiled in June in Detroit, will start at $17,495 for a base L model with manual transmission. The 2016 Focus SE hatch starts at $19,015, while a Focus RS performance hatch starts at $35,730.

The Cruze Hatch will be offered in the LT and Premier trims and with Chevy’s sporty RS performance package.

Schuster said Chevy also may use a hatchback Cruze as a vehicle to roll out sporty special versions or trim packages. “You can do a lot more when you have it in the lineup,” he said.

Cruze sales in the U.S. last year fell 17.3 percent to 226,602. Sales of small cars were weaker across the industry as consumers have shifted preferences toward crossovers, SUVs and trucks amid lower gasoline prices.

Through October 2015, hatchbacks accounted for 5 percent of U.S. auto industry sales last year, according to IHS Automotive. The forecasting firm has hatchbacks growing to 5.8 percent of the U.S. industry in 2018.

Like the new sedan, the Cruze Hatch will be powered by a new 1.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder turbocharged engine. The 2016 Cruze is longer and lighter than the previous generation and is expected to get 40 miles per gallon on the highway with an automatic transmission.

The Cruze Hatch will feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and available OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. It will be built at GM’s Ramos Arizpe plant in Mexico. The new Cruze sedan and hatchback will be sold in 40 global markets, though Chevy has not announced where else it will be on sale.


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