Chevrolet is to launch a hatchback version if its small-medium Cruze. The Cruze hatch is one of four new models the company plans to unveil at the forthcoming Paris Motor Show, which also include the Cruze-based Orlando seven-seat compact people-carrier.

Chevrolet's Cruze was generally well received when it was introduced last year but it was initially available only as a four-door saloon, which limited its appeal to UK customers; on the other hand the Cruze is a "world car" and is selling well in emerging markets such as China, Russia, India and South America where saloons are more popular. One side-effect, deliberate or not, was that the Cruze posed less of a competitive threat to Vauxhall's new Astra, a sister car within the GM empire, when that was launched later in 2009.

The rear hatchback styling completely transforms the appearance of the rather staid Cruze saloon, producing a much younger, perhaps even daring look, with slight BMW 1-Series overtones; that should broaden the car's appeal considerably. There is no news so far of any under-the-skin changes to accompany the new bodywork, although the Cruze is already a competent performer with a convincing chassis that offers good ride comfort but a slightly less sporty set-up than the Astra.

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