Paris 2012: Chevrolet Trax Has a Buick Exterior, Chevy Spark Interior

The Chevrolet Trax is the latest example of General Motors' time-tested badge engineering efforts. This compact crossover first appeared as the 2013 Buick Encore, before being co-opted for European tastes as the Opel Mokka. Now we see it with another name and badge, as the Chevrolet Trax.

Chevrolet will sell the Trax in 140 different countries around the world, starting with Mexico later this year. But there are no plans to bring the compact crossover to America because Chevrolet fears it would steal sales from the larger Equinox. Though there's a big size gap between the two models -the Trax is 19.3 inches shorter and based on the tiny Spark hatchback-and the Equinox is one of Chevrolet's strongest-selling models in the States, so it makes sense to avoid the risk of cannibalizing sales.

Just like the Opel Mokka, the Chevrolet Trax is available with three engines: a 140-hp 1.4-liter turbo-four, a 130-hp 1.7-liter turbodiesel, and a 1.6-liter inline-four. The two turbo engines can optionally be paired with all-wheel drive and/or a six-speed automatic transmission; all three mills come standard with a five-speed manual.

On the outside, the Trax wears a bold Chevrolet face that immediately brings to mind the aforementioned Equinox. The rest of the sheetmetal matches the stylish Buick Encore, with short overhangs, tasteful creases, flared fenders, and five-spoke wheels. The interior is a carbon copy of that in the new Spark subcompact, right down to the weird motorcycle-inspired instrument cluster. That's not necessarily a bad thing -- the parts sharing will probably keep costs low -- but it makes the inside of the Trax feel a bit derivative. We're still on the fence about the brown-and-black interior combo shown here at the Paris Motor Show.

The Chevrolet Trax looks to be an appealing entrance in the subcompact crossover segment, but its real importance is outside of Europe. By selling it under the Chevrolet brand, GM hopes it can offer this vehicle in markets like South America, India, Asia, and other developing markets. That will not only help GM capture a share of those regions' growing demand for cars, it also is designed to help encourage global buyers to consider buying from the quintessentially American car company.

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