General Motors Corp. will unveil its Chevrolet Orlando concept at the Paris auto show next month, signaling the auto maker’s interest in building a 7-seat, multipurpose vehicle.

GM does not provide a timetable for the vehicle but says the concept is built on the same global architecture that will shoulder the new Chevy Cruze compact car due in Europe in 2009.

The Cruze, widely expected to ride on the auto maker’s new Delta, will bow in the U.S. in mid-2010 as an ‘11 model.

GM plans to build the U.S. version of the new Cruze in Lordstown, OH, which currently produces the Chevy Cobalt small car and HHR cross/utility vehicle and the Pontiac G5/Pursuit.

But while the Cruze fits five passengers and approaches an overall length of about 181 ins. (4.6 m), the Orlando concept boasts a wheelbase of about 108.7 in. (2.8 m), or slightly shorter than the Chevy Equinox cross/utility vehicle.

GM does not provide an overall length for the Orlando but says the “generous” wheelbase will combine wide front and rear tracks for “outstanding interior roominess.”

GM spokeswoman Nancy Libby says although the Orlando will appear in Paris with the auto maker’s latest-generation 2.0L turbocharged 4-cyl. diesel, GM is not targeting the European market specifically.

“(The Orlando) is based on our new global compact-car architecture,” Libby tells Ward’s. “You can read into it what you like, but it’s not just for Europe. We design for global markets.”

The diesel mill produces 150 hp and 236 lb.-ft. (320 Nm) of torque, GM says, and presently appears in the Chevy Epica sedan and Captiva and Opel Antara CUVs.

GM says the 5-door Orlando combines “the versatility attributes of (an SUV), a family van and a wagon in a single execution.” The exterior design “cuts a distinctive silhouette, replacing conventional monocab proportions with a more defined contrast between the hood and windshield lines.”

Flared fenders provide the vehicle with “a muscular stance,” conveying the look of an SUV. However, its car-based architecture will deliver “dynamic ride and handling, excellent fuel efficiency and easy entry.”

GM says the Orlando’s interior targets families requiring adaptable, theater-style seating in three rows that will accommodate up to seven passengers. Should load-carrying become a priority, the Orlando’s cabin can be transformed into a large cargo area.

GM’s 5-seat Opel Meriva and 7-seat Opel Zafira multipurpose vehicles in Europe also utilize a highly flexible interior, which the auto maker credits for their popularity.

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