By on May 6, 2011

No? Never? Well, technically this isn’t a Buick, but an Opel Astra GTC OPC (at least according to Auto Motor und Sport). And given that Buick is holding off on bringing serious power to its Regal GS (at least until a coupe comes out of Germany), it’s fairly unlikely that they would bring a 290 HP, limited-slip, six-speed hot hatch to the Buick brand any time soon. Or is it? The line for “Mr Euro”-style self-delusion forms here…

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32 Comments on “Ever Seen A Buick Move Like This?...”


  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    Sure would be nice. Astra Story Time!

    My mother bought herself a new Saturn Astra not all that long ago. Got a great deal since it was an orphan on the lot, or so I’m told.

    Anyway, while visiting over Christmas I had the occasion to drive it over to the grandparents house, which involves driving through some very curvy roads down and then back out of a river valley in a state park. I didn’t know a damn thing about the Astra when I climbed in, and only got the slightest hint of what it could do as I put in in D and poodled out of the neighborhood.

    But through the curves, my God! I’ve always been a big VW fan, but let me assure you this thing wipes the floor with the GTI, at least ride and handling wise. It doesn’t have that VW/Audi bricklike feeling of solidity going down the road, but consequently feels much lighter and far more agile.

    In any case the moral of the story is: Yes please to the 290 HP. Though to be honest, all it really needs is about 200 or so.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      +1. I was a big fan of the Saturn Astra. I’ve always wondered why most auto journalists were so lukewarm about the car when road testing them.

      Still, I don’t think there is any way we will ever be getting any OPC cars over here.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @ajla: “Still, I don’t think there is any way we will ever be getting any OPC cars over here.”:

        That’s why we have the Chevy SS brand. Now, if we could convince GM to do a OPC tuned Cruze, we might have something. But AFAIK, there’s not even a Cruze SS in the lineup anywhere in the near future…

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The North American Astra’s base engine really did suck, both in terms of performance and fuel economy. Yeah, it rode and drove well, but that engine, especially with the automatic, just ruined the experience.

      I liked it, too, but when you get dusted by the Honda Fit you have problems.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Amen. A couple of days ago, having a bit of spare time, and knowing that the local CarMax still had a Saturn Astra XR 3-door, stick on the lot, I dropped by and took it for a test drive.

      I’m seriously going thru my cash situation as we speak. I wasn’t planning on buying a small hatchback coupe for another 6-8 months, but I really love this car. I absolutely love the car.

      Pity GM couldn’t market it properly. This car should have saved the Saturn brand.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        The Astra coupe is a seriously good looking car, they still catch my eye whenever I see one, especially from the back 3/4 view with those narrow rear windows.

        But the sedan looked like a Versa, thats where they really dropped the ball. If you needed 4-doors, it lost out on style, and they wouldnt let you get the bigger rims or sport suspension on it either. Plus, although the engine was adequate, it wasnt enough for enthusiasts. They should have offered a Red Line version with 200+ HP to back up the style of the coupe.

        If I were you I would snap that coupe up, they are nearly impossible to find, especially with a stick. Bonus points if its red too, thats the best color for it!

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        mnm4ever: The Astra sedan looked like a nicer trimmed Cobalt sedan – look at the rear door window shapes.

        Every so often I see an Astra hatch – that’s the one I really like and would’ve seriously considered one if in the market at the time.

        (EDIT): The 4 door Cobalt was pretty ugly, but the Astra 4 door, while looking similar to the Cobalt in rear door shape pulled off the look much better, so I don’t think it was re-badged in any way.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @Zackman… is that a good thing to look like a Cobalt??

        And even the sedan was still a hatch, just wasnt nearly as attractive as the coupe.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      OK, I will bite. When was the last time you drove a GTI???

      I tested the Astra, the coupe with the sport package 18″ rims, etc. It was a nice little car, definitely better than the Cobalt, though I didnt think the interior was nice enough for the price they were asking.

      But wipes the floor with the GTI? In handling? No freakin way man, no way. The standard Golf? Yes, even the standard Jetta. Not a GTI, unless you are talking about one from like 1996.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      The way Buick is going, I’d expect a Buick Astra (hatch, no sedan) to come out late next year on the heels of the Verano. And being hatch-only means it doesn’t compete with the Verano sedan. That covers Buick at the bottom end, and a Buick Astra would make a fine little Mini-fighter – a perfect pre-kids fit for the Buick target demographic of professional females.

      Then, if the Astra moves reasonably well (and it should), making a Turbo GS available would be a good start. If Buick can then justify an Astra GTC (to go with a Regal GTC) using proven OPC/VXR mechanicals down the line, so much the better!

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Yet another import for GM.

    They should just admit they are no longer an American company.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Wanna do something original that would make the rest of the group take notice? Post something positive about GM.

      Oh, I forgot . . . . . . you’re incapable of such behavior, even when it’s justified.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Syke: do not encourage the under-bridge residents…

      • 0 avatar
        GarbageMotorsCo.

        Hard to be positive about a company that screwed you with to products.

        In a row.

        But that was not the original subject of my comment. Cars plucked from overseas by Government Motors is no different than an import brand.

        Agree? Disagree?

        Of course you antiimport people will disagree, because hey, if Detroit does it? it’s perfectly acceptable.

        But imports are bad. lol

        But that’s OK, concentrate on the personal attacks and ignore the point. This is GMI isn’t it?

  • avatar
    colin42

    The European previous gen Astra could be brought with the 2.2 DI Turbo engine seen in the Saturn sky – I’ve often wondered how hard it would be to do a transplant into a Saturn Astra (not that I have the time, money or mechanical skills for such a job!)

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Sounds like something Murilee would attempt in the year 2020. But it’s an awesome idea.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The engine of choice, assuming it would fit, would be either the super- or turbocharged Ecotecs from the Ion Red Line/Cobalt SS/HHR SS, or Saab’s variant of the same.

      My vote would be the supercharged model: those were quite easily boosted within an inch of their life in the Red Line. You might want a stronger transaxle, though.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @Garbage.. FYI…. for now the Regal is being imported from German. Production has been started in Oshawa on the flex line. However, demand for Camaro convertibles has forced GM to keep the majority of Buick production in Germany…for now.

    You remember the Camaro eh? The same car that the domestic bashers/trolls figured would fizzle in six months.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Mikey, I’ve meant to ask you this. Of all the cars you ever helped assemble, which one are you most proud of? Your Impala LTZ that you retirement gifted to yourself? Or was there another that you just thought; “Man, for what that car can do and the price it sells for, that is one sweet ride.”

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @ Dan….To answer your question…..without a doubt the “B” Chev and “B” American, and Canadian Pontiac. We ran them in Oshawa from late 1976 till late 1984. Even up here in rust country, I still see the odd one chugging along. Of course there a part of history now.

        Fact of the matter is “practice makes perfect” Think of say,the 1966 VW bug. IMHO, the last real good vehicle VW ever produced. The present day Impala is an a cumulation of enginering,and assembly expertice,dating back to 1988.

        I went to a desk job in 1997 so I wasn’t too involved in the assembly operation. I can assure anybody that the Impala was, and still is, the number one “bang for your buck” vehicle avialible today.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        “Impala was, and still is, the number one ‘bang for your buck’ vehicle avialible today.”

        @mikey: You’re doggone right it is!

    • 0 avatar
      SkiD666

      GM built 3,501 Regals last month in Oshawa (1,460 in March).
      So they are slowly ramping up production.

      An eAssist 5-door Regal with the new IntelliLink Nav system would sure be on my shopping list if they build it.

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      The Camaro is no more American than an Acura built in Canada.

      But I get your point. It’s OK that GM imports cars, just make sure nobody buys “import nameplates”. Got it. Thanks for the balanced POV.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Camaro is an American brand, with a large share of American components, particularly the powertrain that accounts for around 25% of the value of a vehicle.

        Foreign brand vehicles, regardless of final production location, benefit their home countries where most of the white and gold collar engineering and management jobs are located and where company profits go. The opposite is true of the Detroit 3 carmakers.

        Buy what you want, but know the truth about which brands give more benefit to your own country.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    How’s globalization working for everyone? Me? I no longer care (well, 90% anyway) where a product is sourced from. Take the best platforms regardless of whose badge was originally on it, build the best bodies around it for whatever brand, tweak it for that brand, build it wherever makes sense, sell the daylights out of it and make a boatload of money. Do I accept it? Sure, might as well – the old days and ways are gone, so might as well get used to it. Besides, the Opel platforms seem to be pretty good.

  • avatar
    gessvt

    Before this car hits the Buick lots, Buick should pull all of the dealer principals together for an in depth case study on Merkur: excellent products marred by poor marketing and an uneducated, indifferent dealer network.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      you only made me laugh cause I was thinking of my Uncle Tim’s experience in the 1970s with his Buick by Opel, or was it Opel by Buick?

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      As I’ve written before, (all-German) Opel cost at (near-Chevy) Saturn price was doomed to fail. Opel cost and sophistication at Buick price has a chance to succeed (and actually seems to be doing OK).

      Since the Enclave, Buick doesn’t seem to have missed a beat. Thank China for China!

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    CAFE keeps such peformance powertrains from GM’s U.S. lineup, and it gets much tougher over the next few years.


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