By on November 25, 2009

Excelle-ent job of hiding the Astra

No wonder GM decided it couldn’t give up Opel… it would have lost Buick as well! Expect this Buick Excelle (a rebadged Opel Astra in the style of the new Regal) to arrive in the US under a different name (and probably in sedan form only) around the 2012 model year.

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41 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Baby Buick Apes Astra Edition...”


  • avatar
    James2

    I guess Buick doesn’t remember the Hyundai of the (almost) same name.  What’s wrong with “Skylark” (if you have to go downmarket)…?

  • avatar
    educatordan

    If it’s a sedan, then what’s the freaking point!  How many small sedans are there on the US market?  How well are they selling?

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    Maybe as a Buick they’ll be able to sell it for enough to make a profit.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    If it’s a sedan, then what’s the freaking point!  How many small sedans are there on the US market?  How well are they selling?
     
    It doesn’t matter.  From GM’s perspective, they’ve managed to spread the cost a little further and soaked up a little more capacity.  Plus, they get to keep marketshare that otherwise would have been lost when Pontiac tanked.
     
    Never mind that the point is to make actual money rather than play an accountant’s shell game of “amortize the platform”.  Never mind that this competes with at least two Chevrolets, let alone Buick’s own Regal (which competes with the LaCrosse). Never mind that selling a commodity car under a luxury marque (and expecting people to take the rest of the brand seriously) did not work for everyone else.  Never mind that this kind of artificial model differentiation hasn’t been effective in a quarter-century.  Damn the torpedoes!  Full steam ahead!
     
    Exactly one company is doing this today: Honda, using the Acura CSX.  They’re doing it in Canada, which is about the only market such a car would sell in, and even there it’s not doing nearly as well as the old 1.7EL did.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Does the Corolla compete with the Camry?  Does it compete with the Prius?  I don’t know which Chevy’s you are saying they compete with.  The Buick will be more expensive.  People who like style are interested in nice looking vehicles that are comfortable.  If they want something in a small package that is fuel efficient, this might be a good choice for them.
      For the record, small cars like this are sold every day in Europe, not just Canada.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    How many elderly folks are going to buy a compact?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      The Enclave shows that younger people are willing to buy Buicks.  The LaCrosse, recently released, is doing the same.  While no data for the LaCrosse, many people I have talked to it thinks it looks good and are considering it.  Bottom line, nice designs will attract a younger crowd.  While Buick still has very high age for a buyer, Lexus is creeping up there.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      In my neck of the woods, all the Corollas, Fits, Scion xB’s etc., are owned by old folks. The kids around here buy VW’s and Honda’s…

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    What’s to amortize?  Looks like they are using the tooling from the last-generation Mazda3 from the B-pillar back!

  • avatar
    Robbie

    Branded as a Chevy, GM might have actually sold a few Astras in the US. As a Buick, they will not.

    • 0 avatar
      akitadog

      Hear, hear. This is too downmarket for Buick considering the classy stuff that’s coming out now, what with the new Lacrosse and Regal on the way. Buick needs to focus on being the American Lexus, to let Caddy focus on being the American BMW. This Excelle will only work as a Chevy. They can change up the sheetmetal and make it the 2012 Cruze wagon.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    It is a failed Saturn with a different grille.
    It would be as if McDonalds took their veggie burger, added extra mayo and wrapped it up in a different paper wrapper, and thought it would sell as the McVeggie.

    A Buick subcompact. Best idea since the Buick Skyhawk, right?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Different grille, sheet metal, delta II platform, not delta I, different engines, and much different interior.
      Saturn as a brand failed when it tried to move upscale selling an expensive compact instead of something more like the ion, well, at least the Astra part of it.  There were many reasons Saturn went away.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    How many elderly folks are going to buy a compact?
     
    Actually, quite a few.  I see a lot of older folks in Corollas, Versas and Echoes/Yarises.  The cars are inexpensive, reliable, ride well and have a nice, high hip point. 

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    That;s the New Car that is to be built in Oshawa in first quarter of 2011 I think? as announced today here in Ontario!

  • avatar
    NoChryslers

    If it failed as a Saturn, what makes GM think that it will succeed as a Buick?  I thought they were gonna build a compact on the same platform as the Cruze??

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      It didn’t fail as a Saturn because it was innately a bad car. It was poorly converted to the U.S. market and arrived just as Saturn was shriveling up and dying. I still like the look of the Astra coupe, but ultimately they didn’t have the time/money to make it equip it competitively.

    • 0 avatar
      SkiD666

      NoChryslers,
      The Astra is built on the same platform as the Cruze (Delta II).

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      It’s also worth noting that this one would likely be based on the new, just-introduced Astra J (on Delta II) rather than the previous-gen Astra H (on Delta) like the Saturn version.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      As Jimal noted, Saturn was dying when the Astra was introduced in the States. I saw an Astra the other day in traffic, and I thought what a shame. It would have made a killer Pontiac, better than a G5. It was a really sharp car.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Yup, that’s the ticket.  Rebadge a European car and sell it here.  It’s always worked before (Cadillac Catara, for example?)  It appears that GM management IQ has not changed.  Doesn’t matter, I’ll not buy from a company that 1) screwed its stockholders, 2) totally miscalculated the market, and 3) now has screwed me into paying taxes to aid them in doing the exact same thing again.  Good grief, GM, just die…and perhaps take all of our politicians with you.  Die, die, die………

  • avatar
    Ion

    The only car I can think of  that was a ‘global’ hit for the big 3 was the Focus.Ford and GM have been trying to bring models from Europe and Australia over here since the 80′s and they keep failling.
    GM keeps telling us these models will inject young demorgraph’s into their brands but isn’t that the same BS they said about the GTO, the G8, and the Saturn version of the Astra.
    I doubt the Feista will fare any better unless gas prices shoot through the roof again.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      An Astra sold as a Chevrolet or Pontiac, and built in North America (in order to make pricing more competitive) would have sold far better than the Saturn version.
       
      As for the “big 3″ (ha!) the last time Chrysler did that was with the Simca Horizon, and it was actually fairly successful on both sides of the pond.  Since then they haven’t had any world-car-capable models …

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      maybe if it was an Aveo replacement, I recall reading that a major complaint was that the auto in the Astra was an expensive option.
      I was unaware of Chyrsler’s history I assumed they had something but I stopped carrying for anything they did that didn’t concern Jeep a long time ago, wasn’t the Omni Golf baised or something like that?

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    I guess I’ll be the odd one here. I wouldn’t mind seeing a new Skylark come out. My first car was an X-body 1985 Skylark, the last year for that version, and while the Pontiac sourced 2.5 engine was pretty crappy, the rest of the car was rather nice. I drove the car as a teenager, as it was handed down to me from my parents (it was their first new car, bought when I was nine years old). When they made me get rid of it, I remember wanting another one, but all the ones I looked at weren’t optioned the way I wanted or had lots of miles on them. I ended up with a new stripper Corolla, which after coming out of a comfortable Buick was a bit of a disappointment. Thankfully, nicer cars came along soon after…
     
    Moral of my little story, if  Buick does this and does it right, I might be inclined to have a look in a few years, after the depreciation monster strikes…
     
    -Richard

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    It seems like everybody here is forgetting CAFE and high gas prices.
    Smaller cars are needed, and Americans need to get used to buying ‘premium’ small cars like Europeans and Canadians.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    I don’t like the names “Skyhawk” or “Skylark.” Lame.
    Isn’t this car a similar concept to the Audi A3, which is an überkostet-gone-wild offering of a VW Golf?

  • avatar
    MBella

    What killed the Astra was the exchange rate of the dollar vs. the Euro. Who ever thought that car should have been imported from Belgium hopefully was fired. (Although he probablly got promoted.) They couldn’t make a profit on them. I remeber me and a friend went out to go take an Astra out for a test drive. One of the Detroit area’s biggest  Saturn dealers didn’t have one with a manual in stock. I think they had 3 autos. The car could have sold, if GM didn’t give up on it right after launch.
    Now if it will work as a Buick, only time will tell. It will have to be built in North America for this car to have a chance though.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Does the Corolla compete with the Camry?

    No, but that’s because the Corolla is much smaller than the Camry.  This Buick is only a little bit smaller than the Regal, which is in turn only a little smaller than the LaCrosse, which itself is about the same size as the Lucerne.

    I don’t know which Chevy’s you are saying they compete with.

    Think about this for a moment: you could buy a Buick compact, or you could buy a loaded Malibu and get more or less the same or better value.  This is exactly the dilemma faced by Acura: there’s very little in it’s lineup that you can’t get from Honda itself, and Acura’s sales bear that out.  Lincoln is in a similar place.

    This is wholly unlike, say, Lexus, which actually doesn’t cross over Toyota’s offerings in the minds of consumers.  Or Infiniti and Nissan.  Or even Cadillac (excepting the DTS) and the rest of GM.  With those brands you get (mostly) rear drive, actual luxury and brand cachet; with Buick, Acura, Lincoln and (in a way) Volvo and Saab, you get a pedestrian car from a damaged brand that’s dubious value next to a loaded mainstreamer.

    The Buick will be more expensive.  People who like style are interested in nice looking vehicles that are comfortable.  If they want something in a small package that is fuel efficient, this might be a good choice for them.

    In North America, which is where is will be sold, small, pseudopremium cars have a success record that’s far from enviable.  It might sell to a few people who, for whatever reason, can’t swing a deal on a Malibu and wont consider a top-trim Accord or Camry.  Otherwise, this car will be lucky to pull VW Jetta levels of sales, and those sales will come at the expense of the Regal. 

    Mileage is also not likely to be a concern.  Unless this car is a lot lighter than the Regal (and the Astra is not a light car), the North American-spec powertrain is not going to offer a convincing alternative, mileage wise, unless gas triples in price.

    For the record, small cars like this are sold every day in Europe, not just Canada.

    That was my point: this car is not being sold as a Buick in Europe.
     
    A car like this would make sense in Europe because there is a market for premium compacts and the hypercompetitive landscape requires makers to cover every niche in sheer self-defense.  North America is not Europe, no matter how much gearheads wish it was, and cars like this (and the CSX, and the Mercedes B-Class) barely work in Canada—which is as European as it gets west of the Atlantic—and have failed badly in the US.

    No one shopping in this segment is going to buy a small, front-drive Buick at a premium price: they’ll either get something a little bigger and more pedestrian, or—if they’re small-car people and want something nice—they’ll go for a brand without a tarnished image: either a loaded Jetta or 3, or they’ll stretch lease payments on a base-trim IS or 3-Series.

    The Regal will be a tough sell.  This is delusion.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    I’m sure it’ll be underpowered for the sake of CAFE like the rest of the crap they’re coming out with. The future is here and it sucks.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Isn’t that picture of the rebadged Astra hatchback called the Buick HRV?
    The Excelle should be a sedan.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    No Acura model is anything like any Honda model.
     
    Ummm….
     
    Every Acura excepting the RDX is a lot like another Honda model**.  The CSX is probably the most egregious example of this, but it’s not like, say, the TL or TSX is significantly different from the Accord.  It’s been a common refrain from reviewers for some years that, unless you really want an Acura-specific feature, the V6 Accord is a better buy.
     
    The “Acura strategy”, as used by Lincoln, Volvo, Saab, Nissan (pre-G) and (off and on) Buick has not proven a sales success in North America.  The only reason GM is doing this (again) is their short-sighted pursuit of volume and platform cost-sharing.
     
    ** most Acuras are still JDM or EDM Hondas, but that’s beside the point.  You can sell EDM/JDM cars in North America as long as they don’t compete with your NADM models.

    • 0 avatar
      davey49

      The TSX is 10 inches shorter than the Accord and has a 4 inch shorter wheelbase
      plus no Accord is available with full luxury features, a manual transmission and a 4 cylinder. Acura also has nicer customer service at their dealers, no “hey how ya doin’ can I have your SS number so I can run a credit check while you’re not lookin’ how much do you wanna pay each month can we make a deal” crap
      and they have better radios
      seems different to me
      The idea of a small luxury Buick compact seems awesome to me. I maybe would have bought an Astra except it left the market before I had a chance.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      It’s really only the RL that’s not a Honda with HIDs beaten with the ugly (uglier?) stick. RDX=CRV; TL=US Accord; TSX=JDM and EDM Accord; MDX= Pilot; and RSX was Civic. And all that would mostly work if they weren’t so revolting (although I think they went past the sweet spot on sizing).

  • avatar

    Perhaps they will name it “Mildcat”.


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