When the previous generation of Astra made it to American shores — dressed in leather, wood and Buick Verano badges — it wasn’t a foreign invasion. Instead, the Astra-cum-Verano was a good soldier coming home; the Astra J always felt like a Buick.
The brand-new Astra, now wearing the K designator, is lighter, more agile and stuffed with lots of new-fangled tech. Europeans love it, as shown by its European Car of the Year award. But will Americans love the next Verano, which is bound to be based on this European compact?
As Opel begins its retail roll out of the new Astra across Europe, some enterprising spy shooters have found the Opel’s Chinese-market twin wearing Buick tri-shields and Verano GS badging.
And holy shit, this is about to get very, very confusing.
According to Autohome, the Verano GS — marketed as Buick Weilang GS in China — is expected to be revealed at the Guangzhou Auto Show with GM’s 169 horsepower, 1.5-liter turbocharged engine and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The same engine will be used in North America in the new Malibu, albeit with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Now before you get too excited about those GS badges, it may not mean what you think it means, at least in this case.
Recently, Mark Reuss told media that he would like GM to have an American wagon. If this happens, the prime candidate is the Chevy Cruze Wagon, which already exists – and is also offered with diesel engine and manual transmission. But what if GM wanted something more upscale? What if Reuss’ dream wagon is meant to be a Buick?
Just a few days after new GM CEO Mary Barra visited Opel’s headquarters in Ruesselsheim and said the company’s plant there will be assigned a new vehicle to build, General Motors’ Opel unit has come to an agreement with the company’s labor unions to extend until the end of 2018 a no-layoff guarantee at three German plants. According to Reuters, the Ruesselsheim factory, plants at Kaiserslautern and Eisenach will remain open. Opel also announced that the Eisenach assembly plant will build the next generation Opel Adam and Corsa models. Approximately 7,150 employees work at the three factories. (Read More…)
The popular wisdom among folks in the auto-biz of my generation (1970s) is that Buick only exists because of China. Why didn’t GM kill Buick in America and keep it in China? The answer is obvious: you can’t sell your brand on its “Americanness” if it isn’t also sold in America to Americans. Buick then is a brand hunting for a mission. It’s also a brand hunting for fresh customers that don’t remember the Century and Skylark, two abominations firmly burnt into my mind. In attempt to solve these problems Buick has ditched their badge-engineering mantra and is rolling out new products targeted at folks from the 80s and 90s. Forced induction and a manual transmission aren’t new to Buick, but the possibility of a desirable small sedan from the triple-shield is earth shattering. Have they managed it? GM tossed us a set of keys to find out.
Yes, that’s right Europhiles, you can buy an Opel Astra in North America…it’s called a Buick Verano, and it will join the more familiar Astra hatchbacks with four gasoline and three diesel powerplants at launch, as well as a 1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder at some point in the future.
With Opel’s fortunes in the toilet and Chevrolet vehilces gaining ground in Europe, Opel brass are looking at an obvious solution – stop building Chevrolet products in South Korea and start building them in Europe.
The Scion xD is known in Europe as the “Urban Cruiser,” and with an AWD option it’s sold as a quasi-SUV. According to a Euro NCAP crash test of comact cars though, the Urban Cruiser offers a lot less safety than you might expect in an SUV. NCAP’s latest round of compact testing saw vehicles from the new Opel Astra and Chevy Cruze to the Peugeot 308 and Mazda3 recording perfect five-star scores, indicating just how safe compact cars have become. And even the video of the Urban Cruiser’s three-star performance lacks the drama of earlier compact crash tests: a failure of side airbags and a weak performance in the new side pole crash caused the poor score. Most embarrassing of all, the Chevrolet Spark (neé Daewoo Matiz Creative) came in second to last, scoring four stars to the Urban Cruiser’s three.