General Motors has seen the future of American motoring, and it's supermini-shaped. The main attractions on display on the maker's Chevrolet stand at the New York motor show will be these three small cars – the Chevrolet Groove, Beat and Trax. All three have been designed to test attitudes among young, urban buyers to smaller-engined, more compact cars than is the traditional American norm.This trio of supermini concepts was conceived at GM's design studio in Incheon, South Korea. The Groove is a junior MPV, the Beat a C2 VTS-style hot hatchback and the Trax a miniature 4x4. Underpinning all of them is GM's new global supermini platform that will form the basis of the next Vauxhall Corsa, as well as at least one new small Chevrolet for the global market. More interesting still, the public at large will play a major part in deciding which of these concepts cars will make it onto the road - and you can get involved. Once you've decided which of these three Chevys you like best, simply click along to www.vote4chevrolet.com, cast your vote, and GM will use the results to decide which will be built.
Starting from top right, we come first to the Chevrolet Trax. We've seen this pumped-up five-door before; GM released teaser photos of it a week ahead of New York, which suggests that it might be the internal favourite to make production. Think of it as Chevrolet's Panda 4x4 and you won't be far off the mark.It's described by its maker as an urban crossover concept; it's got a high bonnet line, a higher ride height than either of its sibling debutants, extra large bumpers and wheel arch flares, a rear-mounted spare wheel and a tough-looking sump guard underneath the front end.That guards a modest 1.0-litre petrol engine driving exclusively through the front wheels. However, the Trax has also got a battery pack and an electric motor which powers the rear wheels, and which would provide all-wheel drive where required, without having an adverse affect on fuel consumption the rest of the time.
Moving clockwise, next is the Beat concept. This is the most European-looking car of the trio; in fact, it bears a marked resemblance to the Chevrolet Ultra concept that appeared at the 2006 Paris motor show, and could be viewed as an attempt to find out if a conventional European hot hatchback design could now find favour with buyers in the US.The Beat is the only three-door hatchback of the group; it's a "high-tech, high-performance small car," powered by a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol engine, and painted "Vertigo green" for maximum visual impact. The Beat's design highlights include LED headlamps that span the entire length of the bonnet, seats made of an unusual mix of fabric and mesh, a high-end audio system and a headlining fitted with fibre optic lights – a trick inspired by the Rolls-Royce 101EX show car.
Rounding out the trio is a retro-styled supermini called the Groove. There are obvious parallels to be drawn between this mini-MPV-style five-door and Chevrolet's HHR people-mover. Like that car, the Groove has got a raised bonnet section flanked on both sides by cycle-wing-style front arches, while further back, an upright, boxy profile maximises cabin space.Powered by a 1.0-litre turbodiesel engine, the Groove would be no big performer, but if you think Chevrolet should put the emphasis on utility and value for money with its next global small car, it definitely would be the one to vote for.