By on September 1, 2016


Production of the Buick Verano is expected to end next month, but it seems we’ve already forgotten about the nameplate and the sort-of luxury compact car it was attached to.

The model lives on in China, but a hatchback bearing the Buick badge and a Verano GS nameplate has been seen driving near General Motors’ Milford, Michigan proving grounds, according to photos published by AutoGuide.

China is an ultra hot market for GM, and Buick introduced the Verano hatch and GS variant at last year’s Guangzhou Motor Show. The Chinese-market Verano GS is just a Europe-sourced Opel Astra given the Buick treatment — not unlike the Cascada convertible. Under its hood is a turbocharged 1.5-liter direct injection four-cylinder.

When it announced the cancellation of the North American model, offered only in sedan form, GM representatives claimed they didn’t want to sell niche models. This, despite the fact that the Verano really wasn’t doing so badly (and had just reached a sales peak in Canada, where it was/is oddly popular).

It’s hard to believe that a compact Buick hatch — even a hot one — would be any less niche-y than a compact Buick sedan. So, what’s it doing here? Is Buick dialing back its wish for a crossover-heavy lineup and volume, volume, volume?

It’s interesting to note that the Verano GS spotted in Michigan wears different wheels than the production model in China. What does that mean? GM will have to explain.

[Image: General Motors]

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25 Comments on “What’s this China-only Buick Hatch Doing in Michigan?...”

  • avatar

    Not mad at the styling here at all, though I agree with the suggestion that it’d be a very poor seller. Likely (like the Cascada) the price would be too high as well.

    Couple details bother me.

    -The black filler panel at the C-pillar made to mimic Lexus design.
    -The cheap black plastic on the lower half of the mirror.
    -Badge at the back is a bit too voluminous (to hide trunk lock I guess) and doesn’t match the inset badge on the front.
    -Horrid DLO fail to make Sajeev cry.

    • 0 avatar

      It looks fine for what it is. A hatch designed by a 2nd tier Euro company.

      I get what they are trying to do and it does look pretty unique… I wouldnt mistake it for a Korean however the design elements make me feel like I’m brushing my eyeballs with a potato peeler.

      The glasswork as it disappears into the C pillar and then expands into the rear window disturbs me greatly. There are just too many elements there. They dont believe in keeping things simple.

      It doesnt matter, it’ll get crushed by the Japanese Koreans and possibly Ford…. and the Cruze.

  • avatar

    Wasn’t Buick (at one point in GM’s history) a stepping stone upward, not downward? How would this be any different than the forthcoming Cruze hatch? And as much as I love me some European hatch, this makes zero sense within the Buick line up.

    GM just leaves me scratching my head sometimes…

  • avatar

    I’m an oddball customer and admittedly this might be niche, but I’d totally check out a Verano hatchback (or wagon!). I’ve always liked smaller cars and the utility of hatchbacks, but these days I want comfort and quiet, so sporty is not that much of a desire anymore. Basically, I want a cheap Lexus, or something like a Ford Focus Brougham hatchback if such a thing existed and had a normal automatic transmission.

    While the “german engineering” that is in my price range pushes my aesthetic buttons, I’ve always steered away due to the horrors reported by others. I thought the Encore was kind of bizarre and would be a niche, but maybe GM knows something. I’ll be checking out the Cruze hatch when it releases, but I’d honestly consider a Buick.

    • 0 avatar

      I kinda like the idea of a luxury hatchback myself. GM has marketed somewhat upmarket hatches in the past (Malibu Maxx comes to mind), but I wouldn’t bet the farm on this one. I think the Cruze hatch will have to do in our market.

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    I mean, the last gen Focus ST/RS, that never made it to the US, was regularly seen around the Detroit area. I’ve also see the current Focus and Fusion wagons around here as well. Chalk this up to Milford Proving Grounds being on of GM’s premier facilities and GM was choosing to test it there. They do development for non-US markets as well.

    It could also be a Cruze SS (or any other upcoming product) mule.

  • avatar

    Am I being Simply Senior or was there not an article above this one about a red Ram pickup described as “murdered out”?

  • avatar

    I once worked for Roush, driving prototype cars around Michigan. Roush had its GM branch in Warren, Ford in Allen Park and FCA in Auburn Hills. We would drive them for eight-hour shifts around Michigan, so it’s no real surprise that one of them would be in Milford.

  • avatar

    Is this Elantra on the picture?

  • avatar

    I’d really like to see GM revive the Opel nameplate in the U.S. It used to be that Buick distributed Opels in the U.S. at Buick-Opel dealers from the 1950s through the ’70s. They should do that again, even if some of the Opels are built in the U.S. Opel could become GM’s premium small-car nameplate in the U.S. and wouldn’t have the large car baggage that the Buick nameplate has in the U.S.

  • avatar

    Ooahh! Even Buicks have grand babies!

    Hope they grow big & roomy.

  • avatar

    They’re going to lift it 2 inches, put 20″ rims on it, give it lame AWD an price it $40K.


  • avatar

    “The Chinese-market Verano GS is just a Europe-sourced Opel Astra given the Buick treatment — not unlike the Cascada convertible.”

    Uh, that’s exactly what the *last* Verano was. The Verano and Astra were pretty much *identical* – the main differences being red interior lighting in the Astra as opposed to Buick’s aqua, and a couple of different buttons on the center stack. That was it.

    I love the logic here by the way. Verano? Nah, volume’s too small. Cascada convertible though, yeah that’ll be a big seller. The Cascada seems deliberately designed to go straight to the rental counter. Buick shouldn’t have killed the Verano. It was much better than the utterly forgettable ILX, and you could get one completely loaded for the price of a bargain basement, FWD 1.8T Audi A3. It just needed some modernization, which the new Astra takes care of.

    A hatch version would actually be a fairly decent GTI competitor with the turbo engine. The Cruze isn’t good enough to fill that role, and if Cadillac tried to compete in that space they’d just screw it up like they do with everything else. Too bad, the Verano was the only recent GM product I had any real interest in. I definitely would’ve considered an updated car with a full power driver seat, LED lights, etc.

    • 0 avatar

      Add me to the list of people disappointed in the Verano’s demise. It was a nice car, the turbo/manual variant was genuinely fun.

      I think it is a victim of the A3 and the CLA – even though the Mercedes offerings in particular are AWFUL they still are a Mercedes.

      I would stack rank the 4 near luxury FWD this way considering ALL factors:

      4) ILX
      3) CLA – base trim, sure if you load it up past $40K they get nice but might as well buy a C-class which is VASTLY better and under $40K – and if you get a C-class you now are out of near-luxury and are in luxury
      2) Verano – but in part because of the price advantage
      1) A3 (obviously in non-diesel variant)

  • avatar

    How about a hot hatch with a revived Pontiac badge?

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