Holden's baby soft-roader

Last updated 11:22 17/08/2012

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General Motors has given us our best look yet at a vehicle that will slip into Holden's soft-roader showroom alongside its bigger sibling, the Captiva.

The Barina Spark-based Trax will be much larger than the tiny city hatchback on which it will be based thanks to plumped out guards and a taller ride height that give it the off-road looks.

While it won't be a rock hopper, it will have some measure of off-road ability, thanks to a basic all-wheel-drive system.

The car maker has also released details of the Trax's three-engine, exclusively four-cylinder line-up. The New Zealand line-up is yet to be confirmed, but overseas markets will get access to either a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol engine producing 102kW of power and 200Nm of pulling power (mated only to a six-speed manual), a 1.6-litre normally aspirated petrol engine, and a 1.7-litre diesel engine spinning out only 96kW but a huge well of 300Nm of torque.

Both turbocharged engines will come with a six-speed auto gearbox and offer the option of on-demand all-paw traction that only sends drive to the rear wheels when needed.

According to GM, the amount of storage available in the European version of the Trax is ''plentiful'', with storage bins above and on both sides of the centre stack, as well as a tray hidden below the front passenger seat that can fold flat to add interior versatility.

The car maker also boasts storage space under the boot floor, although whether this means Australia will not get a spare wheel is yet to be established.

Boot space is rated at 358 litres, well up on the Barina Spark's official 170-litre cubby hole.

No pictures have yet been released showing what the Trax looks like inside, although GM says it features ''a cluster combining digital readouts with analogue displays'' that could be similar to the steering wheel-mounted pod-like display in the Barina Spark.

The release says the SUV will have the requisite six airbags and electronic stability control, as well as off-road functions including a hill holder to stop the Trax rolling back on hill starts, and hill descent control that can help it walk down a steep slope without losing traction.

Holden New Zealand has confirmed confirmed in June that it will expand its SUV portfolio with the Trax in 2013.

Holden NZ managing director, Jeff Murray said that Trax would be an important entry for Holden into the increasingly popular small SUV segment which has grown 87 per cent year to date over last year.

''Trax will be an exciting new addition to the Holden line-up and deliver car-like handling that more and more customers are looking for in today's SUV's as well as advanced safety features and great fuel economy,'' Murray said.

''New Zealand benefits greatly from General Motors global portfolio and Trax will be just another example of Holden bringing the best new vehicle to this country.

''Trax enables Holden to deliver world-class vehicles that meet the changing needs of our loyal and new customers and we are proud to provide these options.''

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The global Chevrolet version of Trax will make its official debut at the Paris Motor Show in September 2012.

-Fairfax NZ, Fairfax Australia

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