Chevrolet's vote for our economy
Famous marque makes fresh attempt on Irish market
THE cynics will see it as a risky venture into a market that is contracting.
The optimists -- and there are few enough of them -- will see it as a vote of confidence in the Irish economy.
Either way Chevrolet is making a renewed attempt to gain, or re-gain, a foothold here.
They've decided to bring cars in directly through Chevrolet UK and Ireland rather than use an importer.
What that means is that there is an expanded number of new models over which you can cast an eye. And they will be made specifically for the Irish market when they arrive next month.
Yes, the market is cluttered with options but I am assured a lot of research has been carried out indicating a long-term future for the brand.
Chevrolet is buoyed by what it claims is the fastest growth from a mainstream brand across Europe -- more than 500,000 in 2011.
Many would disagree with the sentiment that the Irish market is "perfectly poised" to follow that lead.
But Chevrolet believes that after three tough years here there will be room to increase sales. "Make no mistake," it says. "We're absolutely serious about the Irish car market."
So shortly there will be 10 dealers ready to take orders, with a number of others being recruited.
Initially there will be six models: the Spark city car, the Aveo supermini, Cruze family hatchback, Cruze 4dr saloon, Orlando seven-seat MPV and the Captiva SUV. There will be a station wagon version of the Cruze later on.
And there are plans to bring in the plug-in hybrid Volt.
What's coming ...
The Spark has a 1-litre 68bhp petrol engine (5spd gearbox) and six airbags as standard.
The entry level Spark has air con and electric front windows while the anticipated biggest seller LS adds 14ins wheels, front fogs and body-coloured rear spoiler.
The Aveo has a 1.2-litre petrol (86bhp) and 1.3-litre diesel (95bhp, LT trim) 5spd and a stop/start system.
Standard LS equipment includes air con, rear spoiler, electric/heated door mirrors and front windows.
LT spec adds 15ins alloys, steering wheel audio controls, adjustable driver's seat, Driver Information Centre and Bluetooth phone compatibility.
The Cruze comes as either a 4dr saloon or 5dr hatch.
It is powered by a 1.7-litre VCDi turbodiesel engine (117g/km, 130bhp, 0-100kmh in 9.8 seconds; top speed 199kmh).
Entry-level LS has air con, electric-front windows, follow-me-home headlights and electric/heated door mirrors.
LT spec adds cruise control, electric windows, multi-function trip computer, parking distance sensors, 16ins alloys, front fogs and steering wheel audio controls.
There's an LTZ trim that includes a USB port, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights and 17ins alloys.
The seven-seat Orlando MPV has a 'second' rear-view mirror that allows driver and front-seat passenger to see all occupants.
Chevrolet is also kinda chuffed at a smart little cubby compartment behind the stereo facia where you can hide P3s, phones and iPods.
This has a 2-litre (130bhp) diesel with a 6spd manual gearbox as standard.
LT spec includes parking distance sensors, a USB port, 16ins alloys, climate control, front fogs, electric windows and steering wheel audio controls.
The second and third rows of seats are raised so passengers get a better view but headroom is not affected.
Of course, you can configure the seating to suit your passenger/luggage demands.
You can even completely fold the second and third rows to create a completely flat load area.
And then there is the Captiva SUV. It has two versions of a 2.2-litre VCDi diesel.
The 163bhp version has a 6spd manual gearbox (Stop/Start technology) while the 184bhp can be manual or automatic.
The entry-level LS comes with five seats and the 163bhp engine only.
Standard equipment includes six-speaker CD system with MP3 compatibility, eight-way adjustable driver's seat, electric windows, two-piece glass flip tailgate, roof rails, Bluetooth, electric/folding mirrors and six-speed manual gearbox, 17ins alloys, air con and provision for wiring harness for a trailer.
LT and LTZ (special order) versions have on-demand All-Wheel-Drive and seven seats as standard as well as climate control, half-leather trim, solar control glass, rear parking distance sensors, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, automatic lighting control, front fogs and cruise control.
The LT also gets the 184bhp engine, with 6spd manual transmission.
The special order LTZ has full leather trim, sat nav, rear-view reversing camera, electric driver's seat, heated front seats, 19ins alloys, privacy glass and headlamp washers.
There are plans to bring in the Volt plug-in hybrid next year. It has a petrol engine too but Chevrolet is saying it is a different sort of hybrid really.
The Volt has a purely electric range of 40km to 80km depending on conditions. After that its on-board generator kicks in to keep up battery power.
Chevrolet says it is different from conventional hybrids in that the electric drivetrain simply powers the car's wheels.
The petrol engine is used to keep the battery from going flat. That, it says, eliminates the fear that dogs all electric cars of 'range anxiety'.
The Volt can be charged from a standard household socket in under seven hours.