DETROIT -- The introduction today of the 2012 Buick Verano compact is another indication that General Motors Co. intends to be a full-service automaker with cars in all segments to match its full line of trucks, said GM North American President Mark Reuss.
Speaking on the sidelines this morning of the Verano introduction here at the Detroit auto show, Reuss said research and development will increase this year from dampened levels in recent years. He declined to give an amount.
The Verano, which Buick is calling a luxury model, is scheduled to hit dealer showrooms in the fourth quarter of 2011, said Buick marketing vice president John Schwegman. Buick is not yet releasing an initial price for the vehicle.
Buick sees a niche for the car between value compacts such as the Volkswagen Jetta and premium compacts such as the Audi A3 and Lexus IS 250, Schwegman said.
"We see a bubble right there," Schwegman said.
The vehicle will offer "library" quiet, the same leather quality of the more-expensive Buick Regal and the same engine of the Regal -- a 2.4 liter direct-injected, four-cylinder engine with a turbo model in the works, Schwegman said.
Buick has been shaking off its reputation as the brand for seniors with the Regal and before that, the full-size LaCrosse sedan, Reuss said.
It will continue the rounding out of the Buick vehicle lineup specifically, but add to the renewed emphasis by GM to offer more cars, Reuss said.
"We've been a great truck company for probably too many years," Reuss said. "It's time you've seen the investment that we've refocused on cars like the Chevy Volt, the Chevy Cruze (compact) and now the Verano."
Asked when GM intends to off an electric vehicle in its luxury brands, including Cadillac, Reuss said that the vehicles are attractive to GM, but declined to comment further.
Schwegman said he expects the mix of Verano buyers to be 50/50 women to men and lots of young professionals, including those with small families, in their 30s to 50.
An Ecotec 2.4L and six-speed automatic powertrain combination is standard and delivers an estimated 177 horsepower (132 kW) and 170 lb.-ft. torque (230 Nm), 0-60 mph performance of 8.0 seconds and an estimated 31 mpg on the highway. A 2.0L turbo engine will be offered in the future.