By on October 14, 2011

The last time we watched a hotted-up Opel Astra GTC tear around the ‘ring, I reckoned

it’s fairly unlikely that [GM] 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…

I’m still skeptical about a 290 HP version, but a 200-ish HP GTI-fighter is making more sense… especially after seeing mules of the Astra GTC at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds earlier this week. And GMauthority reports that

according to sources, the Astra has been green-lit to become a Buick. The name is unknown, but it’s possible that it will wear the Verano nameplate, with some sort of a specifying moniker.

The Verano sedan is tipped as a “comfort-first” model, but a sporty, premium hatch-coupe variant could help Buick drive its buyer age even lower. Especially now that Acura has let its Integra/RSX legacy wither on the vine. But then, it sounds like the Buick boys don’t need encouraging on this front…

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43 Comments on “Are You Ready For: Buick Verano “GTI”?...”


  • avatar
    Silent Ricochet

    That’s actually pretty cool. I’d actually love to own a Buick like that. I’m not a huge fan of hatchbacks, but I like the styling, and I AM a huge fan of comfort and spirited driving. Besides the fact that it’d definitely stand out from the all-too-common Civic Hatchbacks and other crap that teens drive these days. It’d be safe to say I’d be the only one with a Buick Hatch, and it’d rip the doors off any Stickerbombed Riceburning Neon-toting Lowrider Honda garbagemobile. I just can’t see Buick getting over the common image that Buick’s are for old people. They would need to push this vehicle in advertisements pretty hard (Like Kia or Hyundai). I can’t go twelve seconds without seeing a Kia Optima commercial.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      Do teens really still riced-out drive Civic hatchbacks? I thought that fad had long passed.

      It seems that any compact car, over the past 2 decades, were equally riced-out/”customized”.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I’d have to at least test drive the sucker. Perhaps Buick should change it’s tagline to: “Go Fast With Class.”

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Now this where it gets weird. Once upon a time, there was this company that had more racing victories credited to its “brand” than Porsche, Ferrari or even Corvettes. The cars they sold were a bit more expensive than Ford or Chevy, and they were a bit more sporty and a bit more luxurious. Was that Buick?

    No. It was Oldsmobile.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      No. It was Oldsmobile.

      A brand for which (even though I was born in 1977) I still silently mourn (and which Pontiac has been added to my mourning.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQZV6q00sUc&ob=av2e

      • 0 avatar
        Silent Ricochet

        It’s a damn shame they got rid of those brands, especially Oldsmobile, the First American Car Company.. They should have scrapped GMC and kept Pontiac or Oldsmobile. One of the two.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    Go ahead and glue a Buick call out on it, but that is not a Buick.

    • 0 avatar
      missinginvlissingen

      Of course not! GM needs to put the portholes on the fenders first, THEN it will be a Buick.

      Also, they need to add wire wheel covers and fill the suspension with marshmallows.

      Let’s face it, the probability of this car happening in the US is inversely related to how badly we (TTAC readers) want it.

      • 0 avatar

        ajla,

        Wasn’t the Pontiac V8 bigger and heavier than the SBC?

        I got the impression that the Pontiac was lot like the AMC V8 in that it had displacements that spanned the gap between small block and big block engines.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        @Ronnie:

        I got the impression that the Pontiac was lot like the AMC V8 in that it had displacements that spanned the gap between small block and big block engines.

        As I’m sure you know, “big block” and “small block” is not the same thing as displacement. The Chevy 396 and 366 were big blocks, while the Chevy 400 and the 427-LS7 are considered small blocks.

        Pontiac V8s of that era used the same block and had the same external dimensions. So, if you consider the 389 to be a big block because it is larger than the SBC, then you would also have to consider the 326 to be a big block. In that case the GTO was made by replacing one big block with another.

        Although no one does this, I suppose you could consider the 303, 301, and 265 to be Pontiac “small blocks”, with all the rest being Pontiac “big blocks”.

    • 0 avatar

      Go ahead and glue a Buick call out on it, but that is not a Buick.

      Is this a Buick?
      http://www.carsindepth.com/?p=4189

      or this?

  • avatar
    Madroc

    Color me intrigued. This is what GM should have been doing with its midrange brands for the last 20 years. The Regal GS has already made its way onto the list to replace my first-generation TSX when the time comes, now that Acura has ruined that car. One more spirited car that doesn’t look and feel like a child’s toy could make Buick a contender among import-intenders like me.

    Of course, as with the Regal GS, there remains the question of whether Buick can cease to be an old-man brand when all of the dealers are in old-man parts of town, with old-man management and customer bases, and refuse to stock anything but old-man cars.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    So someone came into some GM executive’s office… said “hey, we should try sell a GTI ripoff to the over 70 Buick crowd!”… and then the executive said “Great idea, let’s go for it!”

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      That sounds pretty feasible. You know the GM execs HAVE to be staring at some bar charts with tombstone annotations and ‘2015 = ???’ written on them.

      As a fan of the large dog & small/quick car lifestyle, the more GTI rip-offs we see here in the USA, the better.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        “Large dog and small car” is a lifestyle?

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        Two lifestyles:

        1) some prefer no dogs, some people prefer small dogs that they can put in a purse, others still prefer large sporting or working dogs

        2) some people prefer no cars, others prefer big sloshy cars, others still prefer small cars

        If you are like me and prefer the companionship of large dogs and the efficiency/joy of a responsive/nimble small car, hatchback is really the only way to go.

        It is often said, both on this thread, and elsewhere, that Americans have no taste for hatchbacks. The only rational explanation for this form over function choice is that we are a nation of cat people.

    • 0 avatar
      Robbie

      “The Astra was a great success after all! And it probably would have sold even better as a Buick!”

  • avatar
    JMII

    Does anyone believe this will really happen? Whatever the odds are I’ll take the under. A Buick hot hatch? No chance. Check the sales of the vehicle in my avatar (Volvo C30) – upscale hatches are a Euro market only.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      Even the people’s hatchback is shunned in the U.S. Look at current generation Golf sales compared to the Americanized Jetta. Americans just don’t like hatches for whatever bizarre reason(s). I just bought a 2002 Golf TDI after owning a Jetta for 8 years. Got sick of trying to put items in the trunk opening that were never going to fit. Plus I think a Golf (especially an A4 Golf) looks better than a Jetta.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        I think that’s mostly a reflection of the new Jetta’s price. Hatches have sold well for VW in the US since the epoch.

        VW has always been the rebuke to the “Americans wont buy [manuals|hatchbacks|diesels]” canard.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        VW has always been the rebuke to the “Americans wont buy [manuals|hatchbacks|diesels]” canard.

        VW has 3% market share in the US. Its best year was 1970, when it had less than 6% market share and before the Golf/ Rabbit existed.

        It’s the opposite of a canard; VW actually proves the point. Those features are niches. There aren’t enough of those sales for anyone else to bother with.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        I disagree. VW’s share of the US market is a reflection of their lack of commitment to sales here and their high prices. The old Jetta sold as poorly as the rest even though it came with a trunk and a slushbox – the difference now being price and advertising budgets.

        Look at this way: they all but just parked a bunch of diesel hatchbacks in dealer parking lots for twenty years, and they still managed to keep 3% of the US market. That’s remarkable.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        VW’s share of the US market is a reflection of their lack of commitment to sales here and their high prices.

        I agree with the lack of commitment. VW keeps trying to sell manual transmission diesel cars to Americans that Americans don’t want. The US is not Europe.

        Look at this way: they all but just parked a bunch of diesel hatchbacks in dealer parking lots for twenty years, and they still managed to keep 3% of the US market. That’s remarkable.

        In 1970, VW had US market share of 5.6%, while Toyota and Honda had a combined share of just over 2%.

        Fast forward to 2010, and we see that Toyota and Honda had combined market share of 25%, while VW had lost over 40% of its share to end up at 3%.

        Wake up and smell the coffee. VW’s product lineup doesn’t work for anything more than a small sliver of the US market. You’re laboring under some profoundly mistaken ideas of what Americans want.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        Hah! A chacun son goût, pal.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    The 290 hp figure means nothing unless vehicle weight is also supplied. My 2008 STI had 305 hp, and although it could move right along, it certainly did not own the road despite my upgrades to reduce its weight as much as possible.

  • avatar

    It looks more like a small SUV than a hatchback, or are these things just getting that bloated nowadays?

    I can see this more for the Chinese market than the US one. Doesn’t seem to fit in with Buick’s image here. But then does Buick have an image here at all?

  • avatar
    jtk

    Whenever I mention that it might be time to replace my old Buick (it was my grandfather’s before I got it), my family smirkingly suggests another Buick. But I might actually consider this one!

  • avatar
    fredtal

    300hp is a lot for fwd, so by the time they add 4wd, some Buick luxury stuff this thing is going to be pretty expensive. No one will pay that kind of money for a hatchback except crazed GTI kids and us A3 guys. So yea I’m interested, but I could live with less hp, better economy, would like 2 more doors and of course a price less than 30g Which makes sense as it’s smaller than the current Regal and so would need to be priced less.

    • 0 avatar
      moorewr

      Totally. I figure it has to match or beat the GTI’s price, or it’s a non-starter. And there should be a base model right at $20-21,000, and it should be competing with/under the base model Audi A1.

      Of course, the A1 isn’t coming, the Ford Focus ST will probably cost $30 and so will the Buick, and the car companies will blame us for not buying them.

      • 0 avatar
        fredtal

        The GTI lists for about 24000 and only has 200HP, this Astra has 290 which is closer to the R-Type or what ever they call it now. I think it’s list is something like 35000 which is about Regal pricing so I think GM/Buick managers will get all confused and use the “Americans don’t buy hatchbacks” as an excuse not to bring over.

  • avatar
    Blackland Reporter

    I own a Saturn Astra and have enjoyed the 70k miles I’ve driven in it. The engine is under powered, the fuel economy may not be that great. However the car has been reliable over all and it’s just fun to drive especially on winding roads. It even continues to get second looks, but I’m sure the Opel grill and logos have a little to do with that. I’m shopping for a new car and again would not hesitate to replace it with an other but properly powered Astra.

    “Wie ein Floh,aber Oho!”

  • avatar
    SWComp

    Sign me up; where/when do I place an order?

  • avatar
    hifi

    I just got back from London and saw the Astra coupe. I have to say that this is one of the best looking designs on the market today. I think I actually like it better than the Scirocco, which I’m upset with VW that we’re not getting stateside. So I think it’s a really good decision for GM to bring the Astra here. I think it’s going to be so well received that it will overcome the Buick stigma.

  • avatar
    FrozenCanuck

    Oh,oh. The last time the Astra tried to make the swim to North America it was as the Saturn Ion replacement. The target sales were 40,000 per year, but sold only 20,000 or so over two years. If you want to see some of them, come on up to Canada where GM dumped them at fire sale prices.

    Hopefully this attempt will be better managed. The Astra is a popular car in Europe and has established itself as the de facto police cruiser in many jurisdictions. Maybe a 200hp hatch will work some magic, but I would be looking at the C30 experience with some concern if I were GM.

  • avatar
    340-4

    I would be very ready for a Skylark GS.

    I would accept 250 hp, a stick, some better interior and exterior colors, and 35mpg on the highway.

    And handling. And braking.

    And fun.

    GM, I know you can do this.

  • avatar
    rochskier

    I could see this as a Saturn…a Pontiac…a Chevy…maaaybe even a Cadillac, but sticking a Buick ornament on this fine vehicle would be another example of epic GM branding fail.

  • avatar

    If this were FoMoCo we were talking about this would be a Focus.

    This needs to be a Chevy.

    Respectfully, when the distinct Pontiac and Olds drivetrains went away there was really no reasons for those brands to exist. They came from a time when GM owned half the domestic market. In the end they had become redundant marques eating each other’s lunch at the expense of all the divisions’ marketing budgets.

    IF Buick is going to continue on this continent it needs to be an entry-level luxury brand, the way it was 50 years ago. Cadillac then goes further upscale and its flagship is an exclusive snob-mobile competing with Rolls-Royce…just like 50 years ago.

    Chevrolet is the bread & butter with 2/3rd of GM’s sales. Let them handle the “sporty”, with only the CTS-V and similar cars as an exception for Cadillac.


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