GM is back into performance, but where is Buick?

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News
Performance cars are back in fashion at General Motors.

However, last week's news was missing one word: Buick.

GM announced that Jim Campbell was shifted to the new position of vice president of performance vehicles, along with motorsports. He previously headed Chevrolet marketing.

Campbell did not provide specifics, such as which models would get the performance touch. However, in an Automotive News story, he did say the performance division will “cross all brands” but that the primary emphasis will be on Chevrolet and Cadillac.

Caddy's performance models will continue to be distinguished by the V designation. Chevy is expected to use the SS moniker.

My question is: Why not a primary emphasis on Buick, too? After all, Buick has a performance heritage. Who can forget the hot Skylark GS in the '60s, the turbocharged Regal Grand National in the '80s?

Earlier this year, Buick unveiled the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive Regal GS concept. U.S. sales begin next year. For enthusiasts, there's even a manual transmission. The car is based on the Opel Insignia OPC, which has earned a long list of accolades from the European press; some have compared the sedan to the Audi A4 S.

While the Regal GS and the Insignia OPC are essentially clones, there's one major difference: The Buick will offer a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder while the Insignia packs a V-6 with about 325 hp. Buick has not released the horsepower or torque ratings but promises 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds.

Buick is trying to recast the brand, an effort to woo buyers in their 20s, 30s and 40s. A range of credible performance models would put the spotlight on the brand and translate into added sales.

The Regal GS is a good start. Why not add an additional GS model, say, based on the compact sedan arriving next year? How about a third model based on the next-generation LaCrosse?

Simply, why not create a range of credible Buick performance models aimed at the younger buyer who doesn't want a lowly Chevy or a pricey Caddy?