Following the current trend amongst automakers, GM do Brasil is starting the new model publicity early by releasing ‘the first sketches’ of its upcoming Chevrolet Agile hatchback, one of what will eventually be a three or four-model line.

The nose closely resembles that of the GPiX concept (a compact SUV) showcased by the local design studio at the São Paulo motor show last October.

The hatchback will be made only at GM’s Rosário factory in neighbouring Argentina while the top SUV plus a compact pickup truck will be built in the São Paulo state plants (São José and São Caetano) here in Brazil. There is speculation GM will also launch a saloon (sedan).

The three (or maybe four) models are part of Project VIVA, on which GM Brazil is spending about US$800m.

The base architecture is GM’s Gamma platform which underpins other company models sold globally and locally such as the second generation Corsa. It was also the basis of the locally developed South American Meriva minivan which was on sale here six months ahead of the Opel/Vauxhall versions built and sold in Europe.

The Agile has a high hip point (ie high seat position), borrowing an idea from the successful VW Fox built only in Brazil and currently the local auto industry’s only export to Europe. The higher seating is popular with many customers, especially women, who like the easier access.

The Viva family will be sold in South America alongside the Brazil-made second generation Corsa saloon and hatch, never as popular here as the first generation (the sedan found its way to other emerging markets that prefer this body style to hatchbacks such as India and China).

The Viva family line will be more expensive than the Corsa so there will be room in the showrooms for both.

The second generation Corsa also competes with the first-generation model – renamed Classic – still produced in both Brazil and Argentina.

GM’s highest hopes are for the top-priced Agile SUV which will give Ford’s locally developed and built  EcoSport a direct rival here for the first time.

Fernando Calmon