General Motors has announced the second quarter launch of a hatchback version of the unique Brazilian Vectra sedan, which has recently started production and sale in Europe badged as an Astra.

The new hatchback will be roomier than the current Astra hatch produced in Brazil and Germany as, like the sedan, it uses the longer Zafira minivan platform.

The Vectra sedan – different to the current European car and more closely related to the previous-generation Astra – was launched in October 2005 but sales were hit by subsequent rivals’ launches. If classed in the Brazilian M2 segment, it is still market leader, if considered a M1, it has been left behind by the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

Fiat‘s Brazilian subsidiary was not expecting the premature confirmation by Fiat Group Automobiles of local production of the Linea saloon. This is derived from the new Punto and is about to make its European debut (built in Turkey) but the Betim, Minas Gerais state, automaker had insisted on denying the launch, despite the motoring press revealing it a couple of months ago.

The Brazilian-made car is planned for next November, powered by a new, 1.9-litre Fiat engine made in Argentina, which will replace the current GM-engineered 1.8-litre, a product of the five-year GM-Fiat Powertrain joint venture ended in 2005.

Fernando Calmon