By on May 18, 2011


Fresh on the heels of today’s release of Opel Zafira pictures, Buick has confirmed to Automotive News [sub] that rumors of a rebadged Opel Astra for the US market are indeed real. But wait, you say, isn’t the Buick Verano just an Astra sedan? Perhaps… but since there’s no Astra sedan to rebadge, that leaves only three choices for this future Buick Astra: the five-door hatch, the three-door coupe-hatch or the “Touring” wagon. C&D would like to see a 300 HP Buick Hot Hatch to come in the form of the Astra GTC OPC, although we’re skeptical that Buick will offer 300 HP in a car smaller than its “detuned image changer,” the Regal GS.  If the Meriva represents the “Baby Enclave,” it’s possible there’s room for a C-Segment wagon, but the rumors insist that younger buyers are the target for this US-market Astra. So, chromed-out five door? Detuned “Skyhawk” GTC coupe? Gentlemen, start your speculation…

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

34 Comments on “Buick To Get An(other) Astra...”


  • avatar
    Zackman

    I think bringing back the Saturn-rebadged Opels is a great idea. The Astra, especially the three-door hatch was just a great-looking little car that I had my eye on. I still see some around town. The 4 dr. hatch is good, too.

    Really, wasn’t GM going upscale with Saturn into Olds territory at the end anyway? This seems logical for the way things are going and appears to be a pretty good platform. Now, should Buicks be this small, in Chevy territory? Can’t say with as things stand nowadays, but until a few years ago, I would’ve said: “are you out of your mind?”

    Still, I’ll stick with a LaCrosse for a small Buick.

    The more chrome, the better, just put the model name proudly on the sides!

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Zackman: Two trains of thought here. First, yes, once GM had killed Oldsmobile, they then sought to put Saturn in it’s place. Dumbsh*t idea left over from the Zarella days, I guess. I personally thought all of the energy expended on Saturn should have been used on existing small cars (Cavalier and Sunfire), rather than launching a whole new subsidiary.

      Secondly, due to CAFE regs, Buick is forced to play in Chevy’s arena, at least in terms of size. I applaud them bringing over the Opel hardware, it’s a cut above the US domestic stuff (and it should be), and it belongs in an upscale line up like Buick.

      If there weren’t CAFE pushing for 60 MPG, I believe Buick could make the Return to Greatness cars folks long for. (Me, not so much, I converted to Oldsmobilism 30 years ago.)

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        I liked Olds in its remaining years – cars like the Aurora and Intrigue were unique to the brand. Sadly, they’re gone.

        I’m with you on preferring the Euro-branded cars, as they do stand out and I still care about that sort of thing.

        I suppose I’ll stick with Chevy for the foreseeable future until they blow up in my face. What then is anybody’s guess. I don’t like it, but all the kicking and screaming in the world won’t convince anyone to listen to this 60-year-old jumping up and down and hollering about “what happened to the cars I used to love?”! I’ll just sadly slink to my Euro-Asian Whatchamacallit and drive or be driven home – wherever that may be!

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Zackman: Yes, the final 2001 Aurora was the sh*t as the kids say. My in-laws had a nice Intrigue with the Buick V6 in it, ran 100,000 + miles with no issues. It was a nice driving car. I wanted to get one in 2001, but my wife (somehow) fell in love with an Aztek. Since she would be the primary driver, she got to choose.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        @geozinger:

        On the Aurora – I especially liked the first rendition, with all the glass area and the unique styling, but especially the back end. If you look at it close enough, it reminded me of the pulsating lights that made up the “mouth” of Robbie the Robot in the movie “Forbidden Planet” I thought it was beautiful and I wanted one. Badly. Real nice car. Rest in peace, Oldsmobile…

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Zackman: I was not a big fan of the original Aurora. I thought it was huge on the outside but cramped on the inside. The second gen (2001) was smaller with a similar amount of room inside, plus the Northstar seemed to really motivate that model! I had the distinct pleasure of driving one of the first ones in Indianapolis (well, Carmel), through an acquaintance of mine. It was a real nice driver.

        FWIW, I’d be happy with one of the Northstar powered Bonneville GXPs that came out about 6 years ago. It’s only my desire for one the LS3 powered Grand Prix GXPs that cancels out any serious legwork in finding one. (As you can tell, I’ve also dabbled in Pontiacist beliefs)

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      The Buick “Astra” should be the 3-door hatch, picking up where Saturn left off. The problem is that “Astra” is a Saturn / Opel name, which is why Buick renamed the sedan “Verano”.

      Perhaps the Buick MINI could resurrect the “Wildcat” name?

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Why does it seem that Buick’s product plan is to see whatever they can grab from Opel?

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Because on its own, Opel is dying rapidly?

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @jpcavanaugh: CAFE. Where else could they get high content/high quality/high mileage small cars readily available? To develop a new car from the ground up for the US market would be a waste of resources. GM seems to be leveraging it’s worldwide resources, much like it’s competition does.

      I personally think it’s an excellent idea. I’ve been an Opel fan for a long time and am glad to see them in the US, even if it has a Buick badge on the nose instead. Along with Fiat (designs) we US consumers need a little break from the Japanese/Korean small car design hegemony.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Because Opel actually makes cars of similar refinement and dynamics to what Buick should have been making. A little TLC in the NVH area, and the Trishield fits nicely.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    These all look nice, sort of like more refined previous gen Mazda3s. The name Skyhawk is WAY TOO tarnished for me, though. I prefer the untarnished name Velite, used previously on a Buick convertible concept. A Buick Velite GS-X three door would look really good in my driveway.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      “Skyhawk is WAY TOO tarnished for me…”

      I agree. I’ve had bad experiences with a Skyhawk. Falling out of one going 65mph on a freeway onramp is scarring to a 4 year old. It was 14 years old at the time, but still.

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        Yikes! I just have memories of a $#!% quality, $#!% colored car that made me physically ill to be in (and the stains on the seat backs remain…) Your memory of the name is truly terrifying. I can’t even imagine….

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        I almost fell out of my dad’s Plymouth when I was 4 years old. Loved Plymouths and bought several! Made sure the doors were securely closed, too!

        BTW, how is it that you’re still alive and able to tell us this?

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        Zackman –

        Probably just sheer luck. The doctors said I had injuries equivalent to 3rd degree burns all up an down my left side and there was a nurse who was on her way to work who had some first aid supplies in the car to help me along. Dad never called an ambulance so I ended up having to ride in the thing back to my grandma’s so he could call my mom who was across town to pick me up to bring me to the hospital. I want to say from the incident to the time I made it to the ER 30 minutes (at least) had elapsed. To this day my mom and I can’t figure out why an ambulance wasn’t called, but it’s the past.

        The latches on the car were busted and the seats were only tenuously attached to the frame and the seatbelts didn’t work right or those things would have been checked.

        My dad even wanted to keep the car for the sole reason that it was paid off. I imagine great battles ensued, but my mom finally won and my dad bought a new car. To spite my mom he bought a Festiva with a manual, mom isn’t comfortable driving a manual, but she didn’t care since I wouldn’t have to ride in the car anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        I had a similar experience with a 1962 Ford Fairlane. I was also about 4 years old, but sitting in my older brother’s lap. I apparently grabbed the door latch and pulled on it, opening the door and was falling out. My brother then hugged me and pulled me back in as my father stopped the car. No harm came to me, but I still lock the doors on my cars once under way…

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        “I apparently grabbed the door latch and pulled on it, opening the door”

        @geozinger:

        That’s exactly what happened to me! Pulled the latch instead of pushing it on my dad’s ’50 Plymouth. The door swung open, springing the hinges and Mom grabbed me just in time. Had to get a length of rope to secure the door until it got fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Indeed. Of all the names that Buick could resurrect, “Skyhawk” should be at the bottom of the list. Badge engineering at its worst…although not quite in the same league as Cimarron, of course.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    A Buick Astra isn’t exactly what my 72 year old neighbor is looking for when replacing his Buick. And it isn’t exactly the brand name that his 16 year old granddaughter – who would love an Astra – is looking for. In short, silly idea.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Selling Opels as Buicks instead of Saturns actually does make sense. Not that the market is there…but financially so. It cost more to sell a German GM in the US than an American GM.

    People weren’t going for $20k+ Saturn hatches and sedans when they could get a similiar (but slightly inferior) product from Chevy for thousands less. That’s how they saw the Saturn Astra.

    However, Buick can charge $20k+ (and hopefully make some money) on such a vehicle because of where Buick is positioning themselves in the market. Trying to position it against the A3.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Exactly the same point I’ve made before.

      Car-wise, the 3-door is the right choice, because it’s a MINI-fighter, which is right in the crosshairs of a huge number of women who don’t schlep kids around.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    If Buick needs to be in this segment owing to CAFE I think both the 3 & 5 door are good choices. I like the styling of both and as mentioned both are already available models vs. designing a new vehicle. Both of these cars should bring buyers into Buick showrooms that otherwise would have had no reason to consider Buick. I think offering both in the U.S. is a good move on GM’s part.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Remember that old SNL skit “Bad Idea Jeans?” Yeah. What makes GM think that small Opel hatchbacks (probably built in Europe again $$$) will sell with Buick badges when they wouldn’t sell with Saturn ones?

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      See my post above for the reasoning. Saturn was considered a budget brand, trying to sell a euro-car at euro-car prices. Buick can do that, since they’re considered a more premium brand.

  • avatar
    red stick

    Skylark?

  • avatar
    mjz

    Buick Calibra. Opel used this name for a sporty coupe many years back. They’ll probably just call it the Verona Coupe though. Still don’t like the Verona name.

  • avatar
    outback_ute

    Given the Verano uses the same ‘good’ rear suspension as the Astra instead of the ‘cheap’ alternative on the Cruze I would regard it as an Astra sedan – this is the first version not to offer that bodystyle.

    It is interesting that GM would bring in a Buick hatch where they have said they will not bring in a Cruze hatch!

  • avatar
    Carlsberg1966

    I have a 2008 Saturn Astra 4 door XR. I have to say, and I almost hate to say this because it’s not a domestically produced car: it is the finest GM car I have owned. Its tight, has nice interior fit and finish handles, well, and I get 28-30MPG in combined MPG. Its been back to the shop just once, for a squeeky belt.

    I would love to see the new Astra here as a Buick/Opel, like the old days, especially the wagon version. I think its a beautiful car and is a very strong seller in Europe. But overseas, this car competes with cars like the Golf, which is a niche player at best here. Europeans have a far different expectation of what a small car needs to be. In some respects, the Astra probably is too quirky (and too good) for mainstream North American tastes, for people who want to buy a Civic or Elantra. I do not think a captive import Astra would be a strong seller here.

  • avatar
    colin42

    I find it interesting how Opel cars are considered up scale enough to be GM mid luxury brand (Buick) but Ford Europe’s car are considered good for Ford US!

    So Buick competes with Ford and Ford competes with Chevy so Buick must be in competition with Chevy!

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Because Opel cars ARE better and more upscale than what Ford has in Europe.

      • 0 avatar

        And because GM introduced Chevy in Europe and decided to move Opel upscale to compete with VW. So GM has two brands against one Ford. I guess Ford is between Chevy and Opel in Europe. In other world Opel plays the same role in Europe as Buick in US. And Opel AFAIK was considered old mans car in Europe too.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    What GM should do is give every American with a driver’s license a free Astra. That would help us to come up with the money we will be losing in GM.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States