Chevrolet Cruze HatchbackEnlarge Photo
The U.S.-market version of the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze will be unveiled on Wednesday, and Chevy has already teased new styling and technology features.
But there's another potential new feature that would really distinguish the second-generation Cruze from the previous model.
Chevy offers a five-door hatchback version of the current-generation Cruze overseas, but could it become part of the U.S. lineup with the new generation?
Executives showed a Cruze hatchback to dealers at a meeting Las Vegas last week, according to trade journal Automotive News.
The car was billed as a 2016 model, although a specific launch date was not discussed.
A Cruze hatchback is already offered in markets like Australia and China, but the car is currently sold in the U.S. only as a four-door sedan.
2016 Chevrolet Cruze (Chinese spec), 2014 Beijing Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
General Motors product chief Mark Reuss has called the lack of a U.S. Cruze hatchback a "pre-bankruptcy planning mistake."
While U.S. buyers have traditionally been averse to hatchbacks, but the five-door body style is becoming more popular.
The hatchback model now accounts for about 40 percent of Ford Focus sales, and Honda plans to revive the Civic hatchback as part of a redesigned Civic lineup that launches this fall.
ALSO SEE: 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Sedan Unveiled At Beijing Auto Show (Apr 2014)
If Chevy does offer a Cruze hatchback in the U.S., it may not arrive until sometime after the sedan model.
That model was first shown in China last year.
It features somewhat sleeker styling than the outgoing Cruze. It's larger than the current model, but also lighter, Chevy says.
2016 Chevrolet Cruze interior (Chinese spec)Enlarge Photo
The Chinese version launched with two four-cylinder gasoline versions: a 113-horsepower 1.5-liter, and a 148-hp 1.4-liter.
It also launched with six-speed manual and automatic transmission options, as well as a seven-speed dual-clutch unit.
MORE: 2011 Geneva Auto Show Preview: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback (Feb 2011)
However, the powertrain options offered in the U.S. may be different, although still picked from the new Ecotec line.
It's unclear whether what the fate of the Cruze Diesel and efficiency-focused Cruze Eco models will be, but the whole line is expected to get higher fuel-economy ratings than its predecessor.
The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze will be built in the same Lordstown, Ohio, plant that builds the current-generation Cruze, and is expected to go on sale in early 2016.
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