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Detroit show: Buick Verano ‘cruzes’ in

Hushed: Buick claims class-leading noise suppression and interior fit for its new Verano sedan.

GM lines up Audi A3, Lexus IS250 with Cruze-based Buick Verano compact luxury sedan

10 Jan 2011

GENERAL Motors has taken the wraps off a new Buick prestige small sedan, dubbed the Verano, on the eve of this week’s Detroit motor show.

Buick’s third new model for North America over the past two years, following LaCrosse and Regal, the Verano is based on the Cruze small-car platform and is essentially a rebadged version of the Excelle GT launched in China last year.

It will reach US showrooms in the fourth quarter of 2011.

As well as competing against a host of European and Japanese models – notably, according to GM, the Audi A3 and Lexus IS250 – the Verano will rival the forthcoming Lincoln small luxury sedan from Ford, which recently lured Australian designer Max Wolff from GM’s Cadillac brand to complete the project and take Lincoln design into a new era.

In a possible pointer to future higher-performance derivatives of the Holden-built Cruze – which is also expected to join the Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) line-up – the Verano has emerged with a 132kW/230Nm 2.4-litre four-cylinder direct-injection Ecotec petrol engine, and confirmation that a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine will follow.

133 center imageLeft: Buick Verano. Bottom: China's Buick Excelle.

The latter should be a version of the 190kW/400Nm 2.0-litre direct-injection turbo four that will slot into the Opel Insignia-based Regal GS from mid-2011.

The 2.4, meanwhile, is a slightly modified version of the engine used in the LaCrosse and Regal (and Chev Equinox and GMC Terrain), the 2.4 improves upon the Australian-spec Cruze sedan, production of which switches from South Korea to South Australia this month.

As GoAuto has reported, the powertrain line-up for the local Cruze will include a tweaked version of the current 104kW/176Nm 1.8-litre petrol engine, a 103kW/200Nm 1.4-litre petrol and a 118kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel.

A turbocharged petrol engine is also understood to be in development.

Loaded down with luxury equipment, the 1497kg Verano is fitted solely with a six-speed automatic transmission and is claimed to deliver 0-60mph (96.5km/h) acceleration of 8.0 seconds and economy of 31mpg (7.6L/100km).

It has the same front strut/rear torsion beam suspension as the Cruze, although the rear end is described as ‘specifically adapted’.

Verano is also billed as the “quietest compact sedan on the road” with thick (5.4mm) laminated glass, triple door seals, “refined chassis dynamics” and specially selected 17-inch alloy wheels designed to minimise road noise. Two 18-inch wheel patterns will also be available.

Traction and stability control are par for the course, while headline acts in terms of onboard equipment include 10 airbags, premium leather trim, soft-touch materials, wood veneers, ambient lighting, dual-zone climate-control, an electronic park brake, next-generation smartphone-integrated stereo, a touch-screen navigation system, and optional heated steering wheel/seats.

GM also claims the Verano has top-grade build quality befitting the Buick brand, with flush-mounted components within the centre dash stack having a gap tolerance of less than 1mm, while the instrument panel-to-door panel gaps are claimed to be less than 5mm. The company says these tolerances are among the best in class.

Under Australian designer Mike Simcoe, who until last week was GM’s executive director of North American exterior design and global architecture strategy, GM’s design team has included on the Verano signature traits of the modern Buick brand, including a black chrome waterfall grille, blue translucent projector beam headlights, portholes and chrome accents.

A sporting profile is created with an arching roofline that connects with a steeply raked windscreen and fast-sloping rear pillars.

Design director Dave Lyon said: “Verano translates Buick’s sculptural design language in a new size, with all the refinement and attention to detail pioneered by the Enclave and LaCrosse.

“Beyond all that, it’s simply a great-looking car. It has great proportions and sophisticated details that will look great for years to come.”

Buick marketing vice-president John Schwegman described the Verano as “a smart choice that delivers unexpected luxury in a compact sedan – and it will compete head-to-head with competitors from Audi and Lexus”.

“Verano expands our line-up, continues Buick’s momentum and gives us a great opportunity to attract a new generation of customers with a product that delivers on their expectations for design, performance and technology,” he said.

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