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Vauxhall confirms new SUV

Vauxhall is to replace its Frontera 4x4 with a new compact SUV sourced from its South Korean subsidiary GM Daewoo, while Renault has announced plans to enter the sector with a vehicle produced by its Samsung partner.

Kevin Wale, Vauxhall managing director, concedes that there is a “significant gap” in the company's model line-up. “We need to participate in that sector as soon as we can bring a product into play. We are actively working on a Frontera successor,” he says. It has a provisional launch date of 2006.

The Vauxhall SUV's technical architecture will be shared by three General Motors' divisions courtesy of incorporating the basic chassis from American brand Saturn's current Frontera-sized Vue.

Vauxhall has internally debated about whether its SUV should be a 'softroader' or a more upmarket product, which could extend its scope to cover a Saab variant, an obvious and much overdue model.

There are no plans to restore SUV production to the IBC Luton factory, currently building the Vauxhall Vivaro, Renault Trafic and Nissan Primastar trio of vans. British designer Simon Cox is working on styling proposals at General Motors' Coventry studio.

GM Daewoo, managed by former Vauxhall boss Nick Reilly, is desperate to enter South Korea's rapidly growing SUV market. A studio concept of its version incorporates influences from BMW's X5 and Audi's A2 and will appear at the September Paris motor show. Vauxhall will also benefit from Daewoo's plans to build a 2.0-litre, 150PS, VM Motori Euro 4 diesel under licence in South Korea.

Renault's first proper SUV, meanwhile, should be launched in the UK early in 2007 and will be produced by Samsung, using the shared Megane/Nissan Almera replacement platform with Nissan 4x4 expertise.

Renault UK managing director Philippe Talou-Derible says the project involves the first member of a “badly needed” family of SUVs and would compete with Land Rover's Freelander, Toyota's RAV-4 and Honda's CRV. He adds: “We would like it tomorrow morning but we will probably have to wait two years.”

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