Continuing Buick‘s model rollout the stereotypical old-man-brand is looking for further growth down-market with the introduction of the new Verano. Billed as its first ever model in the compact luxury segment, the folks at Buick might be being purposefully ignorant of the ’80s Skyhawk – although arguably a compact, it could hardly be called a luxury car.
Based on the same platform as the Chevy Cruze, the Verano shares many of the same suspension parts including the Watts Z-link rear end that was designed to offer the best attributes of an independent rear suspension (namely, handling and ride comfort) with the best parts of a torsion beam setup (being lighter, less expensive and taking up less space). The Cruze already provides a comfortable ride and when combined with extensive ‘Quiet tuning’ with plenty of additional noise dampening and canceling devices, the Verano promises a true Buick ride.
As rumored, under the hood, the Verano will get GM’s 2.4-liter Ecotec 4-cylinder, delivering a sizable step up in performance over the Cruze. Power is rated at 177-hp and 170 ft-lbs of torque and when matched to a six-speed automatic will achieve 31-mpg on the highway. Buick is also planning to offer a version of its turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, which makes 220-hp and 258 ft-lbs of torque in the Regal Turbo. A 0-60 mph time of 8.0 seconds is promised for the base engine, so look for a turbo model that might dip into the 6s.
Inside Buick promises true luxury, although don’t expect too much with a rumored starting price of around $20,000. Still, standard and optional features include a pretty impressive list of goodies like a push-button ignition, dual-zone climate control, heated leather seats and a heated steering wheel.
Perhaps more important is the overall refinement with soft-touch materials throughout, ambient lighting and minimal gaps between panels. Although if Buick is looking for a younger demographic they might have wanted to pass on the woodgrain accenting that’s certain to look as genuine as a made-in-Taiwan Louis Vuitton bag.
Outside the Verano is styled more like the large LaCrosse than the Regal, with a prominent waterfall grille. Standard rolling hardware includes 17-inch wheels, although 18s are optional.
Set to make its world premier at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show on January 10th, check back then for live photos then. Until then, see our Detroit Auto Show preview here.
More: 2012 Buick Verano Brings Old Man Brand to a New Demographic With First Ever Compact on AutoGuide.com