Turbo gives Verano buyers a leg up
"By ticking off the 1ST content package option, the Verano T buyer gets a badge on the rear deck lid, a subdued spoiler atop that deck lid, and twin pipes down below."
LOUISVILLE, Kent. – Buick doesn’t really want its Verano customers to show off with the new for 2013 Turbo mode, and perhaps that’s the way it should be.
In a market where buyers proudly display their vehicles’ added power or prowess, it may seem like a backward thing to do but Buick doesn’t want Verano to supersede the larger Regal sedan as the sports entry of the stable; it just wants to appease the Verano buyer who wants a bit more power.
Actually, it’s more than just a bit more power. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (a $2,205 addition to the Verano Leather package) makes 250 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque – up from 180 and 171, respectively, of the base 2.4-litre “four” – which is actually better at the top-end than the Regal Turbo (220/260) and makes for a pretty good accelerator (0-100 reportedly takes in the neighbourhood of 6.5 seconds).
It can be had with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission (the automatic is standard; the manual option doesn’t cost anything).
And by ticking off the 1ST content package option, the Verano T buyer gets a badge on the rear deck lid (to show everybody that this isn’t just a leather-clad Verano), a subdued spoiler atop that very deck lid, and twin pipes down below the trunk opening. Otherwise (from the front or side) there’s no distinguishing the Verano Turbo from other Veranos.
The other changes are under the bodywork, with a suspension that’s firmed up a bit and steering that’s a little more direct. It adds up to a luxury entry-level sedan that is one of the better behaved when the pavement straightens out or the road kinks up – straight-line acceleration is remarkable and handling is inspiring, respectively.
The winding two-lane roads up and down the rolling Kentucky hills provide a thrilling roller coaster ride with the driver manning the speed knob. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had this much fun driving a Buick ... it’s been, like ... ever.
Yet, the cabin retains the Buick quiet refined luxury. Wood and leather coverings are sufficient to convey luxury without being ostentatious, and the ride is smooth and quiet. Acoustical laminated glass, triple door seals and refined chassis dynamics all contribute to isolate cabin dwellers from the world outside, and even the standard 18-inch wheels help minimize road noise.
Turbocharging adds a modicum of engine noise but this two is nicely muted. The added benefit of the smaller (albeit more powerful) engine is reported fuel economy of 10.1 litres per 100 km in the city and 6.6 on the highway. Although, it does want Premium fuel to maximize the performance.
The performance changes are enough to make a radical difference to the way Verano behaves, so we kind of expect the exterior to reflect that. But Buick engineers say that isn’t what the Turbo version is all about.
They insist they aren’t after the BMW 3s or Audi A4s. Even the Lexus IS is at the periphery of its sights. Buick considers the Acura ILX (equally new) as the Verano’s prime competitor.
To achieve that goal, Verano also gets interior updates, including sport pedals and the availability across the board of Buick’s IntelliLink multifunctional touchscreen control centre (which for the first time can be coupled with the Navigation system). Amenities such as heated front seats and steering wheel, a rearview camera and a Bose surround sound audio are all part of the package.
Blind-zone with cross-traffic alerts is also new, as it is on other Buicks.
Verano is reportedly achieving a 52% conquest rate, which begs the question – how much of that is internal conquering (most notably from Regal)? It’s not a bad question, considering Verano Turbo is priced from $30,900 and Regal Turbo starts at $37,450 - $6,550 seems like a lot for a vehicle that is only slightly larger and offers up less power.
2013 Buick Verano Turbo
MSRP range: $30,900
Notable Options: premium exterior paint; sunroof
Configuration: front engine/ front-wheel drive
Available engines: 2.0L turbo 4-cyl. (250 hp/ 260 lb.-ft.).
Available transmissions: 6-spd. manual; 6-spd. Auto. with sequential shift
Fuel economy ratings (L/100km): Est. 10.1 city; 6.6 hwy
Competitors: Acura ILX; Infiniti G25; Lexus IS 250
Strengths: power; economy; handling
Weaknesses: doesn’t stand out