By on January 19, 2016

Buick Avista NAIAS

Last week, Opel teased its upcoming GT Concept by saying: “You will see Opel with a fresh pair of eyes.”

That’s just lovely.

But let’s take a step back, look at General Motors’ Alpha platform with a fresh pair of eyes and wonder aloud together: Is it all Alpha from here on out?

First, here’s what we know: According to Road and Track, General Motors is considering a sub-ATS sedan, presumably built on the Alpha platform because that’s the only one that ticks both “small sedan” and “rear-wheel drive” requirements.

Second, we know that Buick’s Avista concept, which was unveiled in Detroit, is Alpha-based, but is packing a 3-liter turbocharged six slated for LaCrosse detail in 2017.

So it’s possible that the new Opel GT could be an Opel-badged Avista ready for Europe, or a smaller, sub ATS-sized coupe like the traditional GTs.

GM spokesman Klause-Peter Martin wouldn’t comment on what Alpha-based cars could be coming, how big (or small) the platform could go, or whether Opel would be using the platform for its GT.

“(GM’s) other architectures have flexibility built into the platforms,” he said.

It’s clear that Chevrolet’s Camaro (which is Alpha-based) will be the biggest seller for the Alpha platform to date. Sales for the Alpha-based Cadillac ATS and CTS have largely stalled, which means General Motors is going to have to pump out more cars to make the platform profitable.

An obvious statement would be: “GM has more to come from Alpha.”

But it’s all the more true when you consider what the automaker is eager to show off now.

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67 Comments on “Buick Avista, Cadillac Sub-ATS and Opel GT – Let’s All-pha Speculate...”


  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    The Aston Martinization of the nation continues!

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Build the sub-ATS Cadillac CT3 off of the Cruze, make it in China and import it to the U.S., make sure the backseat and trunk are even smaller and that the engines, transmissions and gauges are even worse, make it even less reliable/durable than the falling-apart-at-6,000-miles-ATS, and then grossly overcharge for it.

    JdN Success Model.

    It will work ultimately.

    Give it 5 (or 8) years, and 12 billion dollars in development funds.

    Show Melody Lee driving it to SoHo Fashion shows.

    Have it airlifted by Chinook over Manhattan as directed by ad firm Publik Skoolz House.

    Success.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Make a special Apple edition. Replace the Cadillac shield with an Apple logo. Charge more. Melody will finally attract the people she’s been looking for.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The only way to make a sub-ATS sized car with an inhabitable back seat would be to move it to a FWD platform and give it a transverse mounted engine. Heresy? Well, Mercedes and Audi are both doing it.

      (I’d mention Acura, but on second thought, I won’t.)

      DW’s idea is actually pure genius.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Well, the three small FWD cars that Cadillac has tried in the past (Cimarron, BLS, ELR) all failed in spectacular fashion.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The issue is apparently every “luxury” car mode has to sport an AWD option because its the law now, so going transverse doesn’t help you much because you still have the transmission hump and giant shift housing on every model. So now you’ve got the determent of the trans hump with the detriment of transverse motor mounting. Going straight up FWD is a bold idea but it doesn’t support the zoom zoom Nürburgring propaganda coming out of Soho these days. Plus you just know it will end up being a Delta II and the Cimmaron jokes will start up (outside of this forum).

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Damn. Another night of re-runs.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Because at least GM has never extended a platform beyond all reasonable lengths and time span previously.

    *cough cough Epsilon*

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Finally saw my first new Camaro yesterday. The front end is so pinched I had to look twice to see that it hadn’t been in an accident that involved something heavy being dropped on the hood. That sucker is two batwing tail fins away from being the 1989 Tim Burton Batmobile.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Alpha is a good platform, so I can understand the desire to use it for more product. But I can’t see anything smaller than the ATS. As it is, the back seat is unusable. GM needs to think taller rather than smaller, if they want to increase sales.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      They should just rebadge the ATS as a CT3 and call it an A3/CLA competitor with a big back seat for that class. Do likewise with the CTS and make it a CT4 or CT5 and price it against the A4/C-class.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The problem from the start was that GM made the Alpha platform too small to begin with (and not suitable for compact, much less midsize crossover duty) – which is a big reason the ATS hasn’t sold better.

      Not going to convince too many 1G/2G CTS owners who are used to having the most interior room in the segment to switch to something that offers the least interior room, no matter the kudos for driving dynamics.

      The ATS and CTS replacement(s) (there are rumors that they may be replaced by one model) will be moved to a new platform using the same advanced process and materials as the Omega platform – which leaves GM to make use of the Alpha beyond the Camaro.

      Wouldn’t be that much of a stretch for Cadillac to just make the next ATS as its “subcompact” RWD sedan (as it is, pretty much as the same rear passenger space as the CLA and A3).

  • avatar
    dwford

    The Avista is beautiful. I just struggle to see the sales case to be made. The Cascada at least fits into the Buick mold as a mid priced semi luxury convertible. A RWD sport/luxury coupe? Who is coming into a Buick showroom looking for that? And it would end up being a better looking, cheaper alternative to the ATS coupe sitting int he same showroom.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      That’s probably the best thing to get people looking into Buick showrooms. Even if they walk out with something else.

    • 0 avatar
      Reino

      The Avista can succeed if:
      1. It is sized a segment larger than the ATS–not a sport sedan, but a luxury GT (think BMW 6-series)
      2. It’s buyers understand they’re not paying for a 6-series, but will be happy with a nice Buick for $30k-40k less.
      3. It has an optional Corvette power train (duh)

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      @dwford,

      I’d walk into a Buick showroom and buy one if it has a V8 powertrain available. I’m assuming this will be bigger than a Camaro or ATS and be more CTS in size. Like a luxurious Challenger without the insane TCO of a german car. Yes please.

    • 0 avatar
      seanx37

      You are right. There is no case for this car. As much as I would like to see it on the roads. The world needs some more pretty cars.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    General Motors, from concept:

    http://www.autoblog.com/photos/cadillac-elmiraj-concept-monterey-2013/#image-2

    To production:

    http://www.headlines-news.com/2016/01/18/769816/gms-second-chinese-import-to-be-cadillac-ct6-plug-in-hybrid-report

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Let’s see. GM has the Alpha platform, the CTS/XTS engine (or will imminently) and they have made this concept body. A Camaro that looks great and (it seems) can be seen out of while driving, a bonus GM can’t seem to otherwise figure out when designing 2 door vehicles.

    So the question is, why isn’t this Buick starting to ship to dealers this April?

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    How about a Chevy 2/Nova for the hoi-polloi?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Sales for the Alpha-based Cadillac ATS and CTS have largely stalled, which means General Motors is going to have to pump out more cars to make the platform profitable.”

    Its not selling? Lets offer MOAR of it!

  • avatar

    I’m partial to 4-doors, but When it comes to coupes, I just want something that looks like an Aventador that no one else has.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    GM is never going to recoup on the Alpha platform.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    Can the Alpha platform be made into a crossover? That’s how GM will make money on it. Whatever sedan buyers remain are staying away from Buick and Cadillac in droves, unless you count China (Buick: 919k Chinese sales; 228k US Sales), and nothing I’ve read about the Chinese market suggests that a littler Cadillac with a smaller back seat would sell well there. There is a slim possibility that, if GM invested the resources, a world-class crossover from Cadillac called the Escalade SRX would save that brand, but all the rest of this palaver is just rearranging those Titanic deck chairs.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      They definitely can; and they did as much with the Sigma(?) platform for the SRX.

      Thing is, it won’t be as competitive in the things that matter (fuel economy, space) as the class leader, the RX. Cadillac could have saved a billion dollars (seriously) and just made a mini Escalade off of the Epsilon platform. That would have handily outsold the ATS/CTS, been relevant to a much wider, growing slice of the market, and been a lot more profitable. Alpha CUV will be like using a $5000 pneumatic press to push nails into a wood board. The hammer (Epsilon II) they had already would have worked BETTER. But now they have to make use of the press to try and justify buying it. Shame

      • 0 avatar
        Frylock350

        Where’s the shame? We get more RWD products. I want a Buick CTS with a V8.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Shame for/on GM for blowing hundreds of millions on a platform it really didn’t need, and not investing that money back into the platforms they really do.

          And the Alpha offerings aren’t even that great. No stickshift with the V6 ATS? Even WORSE visibility out of the Alpha Camaro? No V8 in the ATS-V? No… BMW is still the RWD king. With mild mods and the right options all of their $50K offerings are still the best, if for no reason than they give you the option of more than 4 cylinders with a stickshift which seems to be hella rare. Only ones I can think of are the 335i, the ATS-V, M3, M5 and maybe one of the Panameras.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Enjoy those stick shift 3-series now, because BMW has stripped them out of the 6-, 5-, and 4GC. I see a sad trend here.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            That’s kind of a shame but honestly the 5 is basically a 7 now anyway. 6 is basically an 8. 4GC is a legit bummer. You are probably right. Thankfully I am more interested in the 2 series anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            Frylock350

            GM absolutely needed something like Alpha. Cadillac needs to be more than just the Escalade and a FWD crossover; they need RWD sedans. Sigma and zeta were both aging, something like alpha was needed. You are making an argument that no rational normal car buyer makes. Who’s tossing their warranty on $50k luxury car to mod it? 0.00001% of buyers? If anything Alpha is very underutilized. There’s more room for RWD vehicles in GM’s mainstream brands. A properly styled large RWD Chevy sedan (instead of the boring SS) would at least outsell the Dodge Charger. I don’t really understand the space argument either, its seems poorly supported by easily available data (edmunds compare car is awesome!). It also seems to be entirely based on a single car, the ATS, while forgetting that the CTS is also an alpha sedan and is more than competitive in space and offers MORE legroom than E or 5 sedans do. Remember legroom should be summed as the Front vs rear measurement is arbitrary based on where the front seat is positioned for measuring.

            2016 Cadillac CTS
            Total Legroom: 81.1 in (45.7 F + 35.4 R)
            Interior volume: 110 ft^3

            2016 E-class
            Total Legroom: 77.1 in (41.3 F + 35.8 R)
            Interior volume: 116 ft^3

            2015 5 series
            Total Legroom: 76.6 in (41.4 F + 35.2 R)
            Interior volume: 111 ft^3

            So the CTS basically offers an extra 4 inches of rear legroom versus its main competition with virtually identical interior volume. None of these three cars are wide enough to seat three across the back and none are particularly roomy versus mainstream FWD midsizers. In fact a 16 Chevy Malibu or 16 Camry have more combined legroom than ALL these cars save for the CTS. Hell only the CTS offers a midsized interior. The 5-series and E-class have less legroom than a compact Cruze or Civic.

            2015 Chevy Cruze
            Total Legroom: 77.7 (42.3 F + 35.4 R)
            Interior volume: 109 ft^3

            2016 Honda Civic
            Total Legroom: 79.7 (42.3 F + 37.4 R)
            Interior volume: 113 ft^3

            In fact the ATS is constantly derided for its legroom versus a 3-series, that difference is 2″ of combined legroom; which is half the difference between a CTS an 5-series.

            I think 455hp with a 6sp manual or 8sp automatic for $37k with world class handling is a great car. You’re talking about a car that can embarrass M hardware for the price of a crossover. I didn’t have a problem with the visibility in the zeta Camaro so I’m sure once I drive an alpha Camaro I’ll feel the same way. Have you driven it to see if its a problem for you?

            As for cars with bigger than a 4-pot with a stick; there’s more than what you list. The Camaro does offers stick with a V6 and a V8; so does the Ford Mustang. The Dodge Challenger offers a stick on V8 models. The Chevy SS is a full size sedan with a V8 and stick.

            What makes one an RWD king? GM almost certainly sells the most RWD vehicles (thanks to the K2XX truck platform). Every car built on alpha receives high marks for performance and handling as does the Corvette and Chevy SS.

      • 0 avatar
        jmiller417

        I’ve read that Alpha wasn’t engineered to be flexible enough to be made into a crossover. No idea why, except that GM must feel it has enough FWD platforms for that.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I suspect it is because of Alpha’s true origins as the next Pontiac G6 and not a generic GM platform used for all configurations.

          • 0 avatar
            Frylock350

            @28Cars,

            Do you have a source for that? Was GM really planning on making Pontiac’s mainstream midsize sedan RWD? That’ll make me even madder that it got axed.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          The previous decision-makers at Cadillac were short-sighted and were too intent on winning the driving dynamics crown from BMW – hence the Alpha platform not being suitable for crossover duty and the resulting ATS and CTS having among the tightest rear passenger space, if not the tightest, compared to the competition.

          JdN wants Cadillac to be all RWD-based, which is why Cadillac has been so slow in expanding its one-crossover lineup.

          Cadillac’s large crossover will be based on the Omega, but a new RWD platform for smaller vehicles (replacing the Alpha) is still in development.

  • avatar
    Rday

    What’s the big hoopla anyway? This is GM, a company that could care less about you and your family’s safety or making products that will last the test of time.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    Even discounting DW’s comments (down to zero), the B & B here are starting to sound more and more like the high-schoolers at LeftLaneNews.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do think this looks much better than the Camaro or even the Mustang.

    I did read a speculative article here in Australia suggesting this could be our next Monaro.

    If it is, it would put Ford under pressure with it’s recent successful launch of the Mustang.

    I wonder if this will come with a 6.2 V8.

    Send one over to HSV and let them loose on it.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Honestly, GM should just divest Cadillac. They don’t have the resources to make it a global competitor to Mercedes or BMW.

    Jaguar / Land Rover have done well under new ownership and new capital R&D.

    Otherwize, yes GM should build some Alpha Buicks. I am sure they would sell well in China. I have given up on a Roadmaster so Buick is dead to me.

    Btw, does anybody know if the new LaCrosse will be sold in Europe as an Opel? Likewise, is the Envision going to be the next Opel Antara?

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      GM is pumping a lot more $$ into Cadillac than Tata is into JLR.

      And the rise in SLR sales is mostly due to LR and not Jag (which is really struggling in the US) and the ever increasing popularity of crossovers and SUVs.

      Cadillac has just the Escalade (very popular) and the aged and soon to be replaced SRX (which, despite its age, had its best sales year in 2015).

  • avatar
    calmaro

    Chevrolet Code 130R concept from 2012 NAIAS was smaller, same idea, different platform???

  • avatar
    jmiller417

    I’m all for this. Alpha is a great platform.

    I’m guessing a smaller Caddy will have to be a wagon/hatchback for the backseat to work. I do think talk about the ATS’s small backseat is slightly overblown given the class it plays in.


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