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Chevy goes Sonic in US

American version of the Aveo to be built in Michigan claiming better rear legroom and boot space than the Ford hatchback. The Sonic's Korean-engineered platform will also form the basis of the next Vauxhall Corsa, although European sources say the Corsa's engineering will be furtherupgraded over the Sonic/Aveo.

The Sonic will be offered with some sophisticated options for the US, including remote starting and heated seats. Stability control and 10 airbags will come as standard.

Chevy also showed a hot concept version of the Sonic, the Z-Spec, fitted with 18in wheels, Brembo brakes and tan leather Recaro seats. HILTON H0LL0WAY

Volt award gives GM a boost

GM received timely encouragement for Detroit when its Chevrolet Volt was awarded the title of 2011 North American Car of the Year. The 49 jurors in the US and Canada put the plug-in hybrid clear of the Hyundai Sonata and the all-electric Nissan Leaf.

Confidential

BMW GROUP DESIGN chief Adrian van Hooydonk says the new-generation Mini three-door "lias to be a bigger design leap than the last one [in 2006]". He added: "However, we have to balance that against the fact that it is die brand's core model, like the 3,5 and 7-series rolled into one." He also said new Mini design boss Anders Warming will start the design of die Mk3 BMW Mini from a near-clean sheet of paper.

THE HYUNDAI VELOSTER'S smart new interior was being closely examined by BMW design boss Adrian van Hooydonk only minutes after die covers were pulled off. Some sources say Mini has been working on a new interior design language to replace the dieme of die giant cenU'ally mounted speedo, and now van Hooydonk and his team are looking closely at what competitors are doing.

MI NTS MAN WASN'T the only top exec spied checking out the opposition. Porsche boss Matdiias Müller used Tuesday s quieter schedule to take a short tour, including a few minutes looking over Jeep's latest Grand Cherokee.

THE LEAKING OF pictures of die new Mercedes-Benz C-class coupé lias resulted in a serious clampdown by the manufacturer's management. Any revealing of future information to journalists, including the longest-range future speculation, could now have to be approved at board level.

E-mail confidentialahaymarket.com

CHEVROLET CELEBRATED its 100th anniversary - and backed up the Volt's status as 2011 North American Car of the Year - with a US version of the latest Aveo supermini, called the Sonic.

The new model will come in saloon and hatchback forms. However, importantly for US buyers, it will also be built domestically (unlike the latest Ford Fiesta) at GM's Orion plant in Michigan.

Chevy is pitching the Sonic on its "aggressive, youthful design" and "agile, athletic rideand handling". The chassis is a straightforward mix of MacPherson struts and a beam axle, but Chevrolet says the car has one of thestiffest structures in its class and that the chassis was tuned by Corvette engineers.

The car will be powered by GM's new 136bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged engine, or a 133bhp 1.8 unit with six-speed automatic gearbox.

Chevrolet is makingdirect comparisons with the Fiesta, and is

Buick taps into luxury market with Verano

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