Chevrolet will replace its ageing entry-level Cavalier sedan and coupe range with a redesigned 2005 model line expected to be called Cobalt, the Detroit Free Press said.

Chevrolet spokeswoman Carolyn Normandin told the paper that General Motors will drop the 22-year-old name when it launches the Cavalier successor and added the new name would be announced within the next few weeks.

Dealers who attended a Chevrolet event in California last month told the Detroit Free Press that the vehicle is expected to be called Cobalt and offer an entirely new look that should appeal to 20-something college [university] buyers.

A dealer CEO told the paper the Cobalt has a "European flair."

"That is something we have been hurting bad for in our lineup," he added, according to the Detroit Free Press. "The [Toyota Corolla-based, joint venture-built] Prism was a good car, but it didn't appeal to young people. It's really eye-catching and appeals to what the kids want."

Dealers claimed the price is expected to be in the $US15,000 range, the newspaper said.

The Detroit Free Press noted that GM has previously said its next-generation small car will be built at the Lordstown, Ohio, plant which already builds the current Cavalier and the similar Pontiac Sunfire. The plant is undergoing a $500-million upgrade expected to be completed by the second half of 2004, just in time for the Cobalt's production launch, the paper added.

The Detroit Free Press said GM will also sell the subcompact Chevrolet Aveo, the first project from GM Daewoo Motor Company, as an entry-level car priced between $9,500 and $13,000 to compete against the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio and Toyota Echo.

According to the newspaper, the Cavalier, first sold in 1981, was intended to attract young buyers to Chevrolet and slow surging import sales but the model failed to lure buyers from Honda and Toyota for rasons that included the second generation model’s interior, which has been criticised for using cheap materials.

Just-auto recalls that the Cavalier was part of an ill-fated mid-1990s plan to sell the GM car in Japan where it was branded as a Toyota and sold through one of that company’s dealer networks. Sales never met expectations and some of the right-hand drive examples still on the road are now in New Zealand where they were shipped as used cars.