Hybrid cars are, of course, all the rage at the moment, and many see them as the very immediate future of the automobile. American manufacturers have not been slow on the uptake, and many have displayed concepts of models they intend to introduce into production in the not too distant future. One such is the Chevrolet Code 130R, a car slated for production beginning in 2015, and one that raised much interest when unveiled at the recent Detroit show. Unashamedly aimed at the modern generation and looking decidedly rakish with its coupe styling and compact proportions, it is one of the more interesting cars of the current generation, and looks set to be a winner.
What’s it all about?
There is something definitely retro in the way the Chevrolet Code presents itself; flared fenders, a forward stance and clean, clever lines give it a sense of movement when at rest, and it also features a small glass area which gives it a purposeful appearance. It is, without doubt, a good looking car, and it’s also one that Chevrolet is crying out for. This is a car aimed at the young, fresh driver who wants something stylish, trendy and affordable, and with a projected entry level price of just $20,000 it is a market that the company desperately needs to exploit. In many ways it could be looked at as a modern take on what the Ford Mustang was about in its original form – good fun, cheap and great to look at.
It’s the buzzword of the moment in automotive circles – hybrid: the Chevrolet Code is a hybrid, featuring a surprisingly small 1.4liter turbo in concept form, with a projected 150bhp. The hybrid system adds just a little bit, bringing the power output to 165bhp. Eyebrows have been raised at such a seemingly low output figure, but put it into perspective: this is a car aimed at young drivers, and the lower power will mean a lower insurance bracket. Given the small size, furthermore, 165bhp should be enough to give the Code sensible performance figures. Word is that there will be other engines in addition to that seen on the concept, including a 2.0liter atmospheric powerplant and a 270bhp turbo as seen on the family ATS. The latter, especially, should be enough to put the naysayers to bed.
A Design Competition
Further proof of the Code 130R’s intended market came at the Detroit show, where Chevrolet also displayed another concept aimed at young drivers. This, the Tru 140Z, was an altogether more radical design, and the company embarked on a marketing exercise that was quite inspiration: the public were asked to vote for one of the designs to go into production, using social networking. Interestingly, observers have noted that, of the two, the one that would need the least changes from concept to production is the Code, hence the likelihood of it being the car that actually goes on sale. A further advantage to the Code is that its size, shape and style would also appeal to buyers elsewhere in the world, and Chevrolet currently needs sales to get back into shape.
Will it Sell?
Undoubtedly the future lies in compact, small-engined cars with hybrid power, but that does not mean they cannot be stylish or fun to drive. The Chevrolet Code 130R ticks a lot of necessary boxes in both looking good and coming in at an attractive price – at least in the USA – albeit being presented as a base model with what many consider to be an underpowered engine. In the face of successful rivals – think Subaru BRZ – it needs to prove itself in true market terms, and while the buyers are there, in many cases the money is not. However, the current up and coming generation are savvy when it comes to cars –computer console games have given them a sometimes graphically accurate taste of some exotic machinery – and are looking for something like this: hip, fun, good looking and ready for the road, it is almost as if the original Pony Car concept has come back for a second innings.
The Chevrolet Code 130R may represent a core section of the automobile market in the USA, and it is certainly an interesting and well-presented concept. Scheduled for 2015, let’s see if it comes to the road in the form that it has been displayed, or if Chevrolet decides to take a different route in enticing the youth market.