Buick banks on Verano compact to grab more import buyers
Photo credit: GM
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- 2012 GM Product Plans
General Motors Co. has high hopes for widening Buick's reach plus wooing import car intenders, specifically those shopping the Audi A3, Lexus IS 250 and Volvo S40, with the new sedan.
The Verano is aimed at buyers “looking for luxury, refined performance, craftsmanship and beauty, but at a value in the luxury market,” said Roger McCormack, Buick's product marketing manager.
It will be officially unveiled Monday during media previews for the 2011 Detroit auto show.
The Verano will be Buick's lowest-priced sedan when sales begin this fall. Although pricing has not been announced, industry sources say Buick is considering a base price in the $20,500 to $22,000 range. Buick's lowest-priced car currently is the Regal, which has a $26,995 base price including destination.
Buick is counting on the Verano to expand the brand to a wider range of buyers.
“Before the Regal and the Verano, we competed in segments that represented about 14 percent of the market,” McCormack said. “With the Regal and the Verano, we now increase our reach into the market, and we will be competing in segments that represent almost half of the market.”
The Verano is aimed at buyers in their 20s who may be starting a career, want a smaller car and have some disposable income.
“We now have a choice for them,” McCormack said.
Targeting import buyers
Mike Bowsher, president of Carl Black Automotive Group in Kennesaw, Ga., said the Verano will round out the Buick model line.
“If you look around at the imports, each one of the imports has an entry-level car. Lexus even has one. I think it fills a niche and a need.”
The car also is aimed at buyers who want the latest technology. An OnStar app enables the car owner to check the fuel tank level and range, fuel mileage, remaining oil life, tire pressure and odometer reading from anywhere in the world.
The Verano shares GM's global compact vehicle platform with the Chevrolet Cruze. The dimensions and underpinnings of the two cars are essentially the same.
The Verano was co-developed with GM's operations in China. The Chinese version, the Excelle GT, has been on sale in that country for about six months.
“Buick China is the key customer for this car,” said Jim Federico, vehicle line executive for the Verano and GM's chief engineer for global compact, small, mini and electric vehicles.
Exterior styling, an upscale interior, engine choices and an extensive effort to reduce noise and vibration separate the Buick and Chevrolet sedans in North America, according to Buick.
“To describe our interiors, they are just warmer, more inviting. That is always our goal,” said Dave Lyon, executive director of North American interior and global cross-brand design. “That gets into material choices, a combination of rich leathers, warm woods. We have a fantastic brushed nickel finish.”
The Verano offers the same leather as in the Buick LaCrosse. A heated steering wheel is optional.
The exterior sheet metal has sculpted design and adopts Buick's signature cues including a waterfall grille, blue translucent projector beam headlamps, portholes and chrome accents. No exterior sheet metal is shared with the Cruze.
“The most important piece of quality is on the sound side,” Federico said. “We try to eliminate the noise. If we can't eliminate it, we block it. If we cannot block it, we go after it, absorbing it to protect the customer. And we are not just talking noise, we are talking vibration.”For example, hydraulic ride bushings and an isolated engine cradle are used to reduce or eliminate vibrations that could be transmitted to the passenger compartment.
Among the other noise elimination or reduction technologies:
• Sound-dampening material is applied throughout the body structure that melts into place when the body passes through the paint oven.
• Triple-sealed doors have fiberglass material as a noise barrier.
• The headliner is made of five layers of thermal fiber acoustic material.
The Verano is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with an estimated 177 hp. Torque is estimated at 170 pounds-feet. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Buick estimates 0-60 mph performance at 8.0 seconds and highway fuel economy at 31 mpg. Estimated fuel economy in the city was not revealed.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine will be offered in calendar 2012.
Stability control, traction control and antilock brakes are standard, as well as 10 airbags. Collapsible pedals detach in a crash, reducing the risk of leg or ankle injuries.