The Corsa is heading off-road, Auto Express can exclusively reveal! Following in the wheeltracks of the new Antara off-roader, Vauxhall's smallest-ever SUV is the next exciting step in the firm's plans to expand its line-up.
With beefed-up looks, it will sit at the very top of the company's supermini family, and promises to be a frugal, low-emission model that will complete the Corsa range.
Entering a market which is set to explode over the next few years - insiders at Vauxhall's parent firm General Motors predict 120,000 worldwide sales for the newcomer - the Corsa SUV will rival Ford's forthcoming Fiesta SUV and existing models such as the Fiat Sedici and Suzuki SX4. As you can see from our pictures - prepared using exclusive insider information - it's every inch the pumped-up off-roader, with big bumpers, a protective metal skidplate and integral spotlights at the front. Extended wheelarches and side sills with more plastic cladding at the rear complete the rugged look.
When the finished model arrives in 2010, though, it's likely to share much of its chassis and interior design with the Chevrolet T2X concept, first seen at the Seoul Motor Show in 2005.
That's because the Corsa SUV will be a 'world car'. So, just like Vauxhall's bigger Antara - whose sister vehicle is the Chevrolet Captiva (driven on Page 24) - the Corsa SUV will spawn a supermini Chevrolet off-roader, and possibly even a Daewoo model, too.
All three will be underpinned by an extended version of GM's new small car platform, which will also be used by the next Meriva supermini-MPV.
Work on the Vauxhall's four-wheel-drive system is already underway - we caught engineers towing a prototype to a secret testing location. And although little is known about the drivetrain, the new car is likely to be available with GM's Advanced Propulsion hybrid set-up.
Employing regenerative braking to charge a lithium-ion battery pack, the unit powers in-wheel electric motors at the rear, which would be driven only when traction at the front is lost. A front-wheel-drive-only model will also be available. Engines are to be developed from the current Corsa line-up, with low-capacity petrol turbos helping Vauxhall meet tightening emissions regulations, while giving superb fuel economy and performance. The firm will tweak its turbodiesels - such as the excellent 1.3 and 1.7-litre CDTI units - for the newcomer, too.
Bosses have already confirmed that the Corsa SUV will be made at General Motors' Antwerp plant in Belgium, and buyers can expect to get a first glimpse at a major motor show in 2009. The model will hit UK dealers a year later.