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Auto blogThu, 03 Jan 2013 11:57:00 EST
Not Luxury. Not Sport. Not Buick. Not Bad.
Those of you who still think of the Buick Verano as some sort of callously badge-engineered, gussied up version of the Chevrolet Cruze ("Why would anyone spend that much money on Buick's Cruze?" you may have been heard to mutter) have got the wrong idea. Entirely. Even in its most modest form, the Verano turns out to be a sedan that is feature-rich, insulated from wind and road noise in proper luxury car fashion, pretty good to drive and not bad to look at in the new school of high-nosed pedestrian-impact-regulated fashion. In a less modest form then, one that attaches the word "Turbo" to the moniker and plops a force-fed 2.0-liter four-cylinder under the hood, the Verano is downright interesting.
Of course, "interesting" is rarely a descriptor that fills one with lust - and so it goes with this example. There are two competing forces within this near-premium subcompact sedan, and the balance struck between them must resonate with any potential customer before the Verano Turbo can become a serious purchase consideration.
General Motors may have parred down its brand portfolio, but it still has more under its umbrella than most. That's why, while a company like Ford might market the same vehicle under its own name in markets around the world, GM uses different brands in different markets. But no two are aligned quite as closely as Opel in Europe and Buick in the United States and China.
What we know here as the Buick Regal is sold overseas as the Opel Insignia. Our Encore is their Mokka. Verano? Astra sedan. But one thing we don't get here is the Opel Adam. The diminutive city car is GM's take on the Mini Cooper, Fiat 500, Citroën DS3 et al. Launched at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, the Opel Adam is named after the company's founder (like an ironic thumbing of the nose to the Ferrari Enzo). But while it's sold, like most Opels, in the UK as a Vauxhall, the prospect of it porting over to Buick seems slim to none. Right?
Sorta. While the Adam isn't likely to come Stateside, the latest reports (as yet unconfirmed by GM) suggest that The General is planning to sell the Adam in China where the Buick brand is also a strong seller. Local production could ensue, with prices targeting the Fiat 500 and engines - according to CarNewsChina.com - to include inline-fours displacing 1.2 and 1.4 liters with 69 and 100 horsepower, respectively.
General Motors and its Chinese partners have announced their second recall in the People's Republic this year, following a 2,653-unit recall of the Cadillac SRX earlier this year. This latest recall affects nearly 1.5 million cars built between 2006 and 2012. It's not explicitly stated, but as there's no movement from the US NHTSA, we suspect that the cars in question were all Chinese-built rather than imports.
The vast majority of the affected vehicles are Buick Excelles (pictured), with 1.2 million units being recalled over a faulty bracket that's meant to secure the fuel pump. The Excelles in question were built between 2006 and 2012, while an additional 250,000 Chevrolet Sail superminis, built between April 2009 and October 2011, are being recalled for a similar reason.
According to the PRC's Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the faulty bracket could crack and potentially cause a fuel leak.