When Buick introduced the Verano earlier this year it was looking to offer a quiet, luxury-car ride at a compact-car price. The formula has struck a chord with buyers.
Not only has the Verano experienced nine consecutive months of sales growth, but more than 50 per cent of its buyers switched over from other brands.
Buick follows up for 2013 by adding a turbocharged model to the Verano lineup.
As Buick?s entry-level car, the Verano is priced accordingly, yet at its price point (it starts at $22,895) there are very few cars that match its interior comfort and amenities. The 2013 Verano Turbo, now the top-of-the-line trim level, includes all the amenities of the Leather model plus a turbocharged engine for $2,200 more at $30,900.
It has leather seating, heated front seats (with power adjustability on the driver?s side), dual-zone climate control, push-button start, 7-inch touchscreen with Intellilink connectivity and Bose sound system. Cross-traffic detection, which warns if cars are approaching when you back out of a parking spot, is standard. A rear-view camera is now standard on all Verano trim levels.
The first thing you must understand about the Verano Turbo is that it is not a high-performance version of the compact sedan. Some might be under the impression that adding a turbocharger to a car means it should also receive firmer, track-ready suspension, race stripes and spoilers, along with tuner-car sound. That?s not the case.
Buick, at its media launch in Louisville, Ky., didn?t bring out flashy banners or catchy tag lines touting the Turbo as a hot-rodded evolution of the Verano. In fact, you?ll find little evidence of the under-hood compressor on the Verano?s exterior; the only identifying marks are a minimal spoiler, twin exhaust outlets and a small ?T? badge on the deck lid.
To put it simply, the Verano Turbo is the same, mannerly compact luxury sedan, but with a more powerful engine package.
To supplement the standard 180 hp, 2.4L Ecotec four-cylinder, a 2.0L turbocharged Ecotec four will also be available for 2013, sourced from the Buick Regal and producing 250 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque.
With the addition of the Verano Turbo, the 2.4L four-cylinder engine has been dropped from the base Regal and is now only available on the eAssist model.
A six-speed automatic is standard throughout the Verano range, though a six-speed manual gearbox is available exclusively on the Turbo as a no-cost option.
Buick?s marketing folk predict the manual box will attract ?enthusiast? drivers, who make up about 10 to 15 per cent of Verano Turbo purchasers. It?s a slick-shifting gearbox with relatively short shifter throws and positive engagement. I normally have an affinity for manual shifting, but I find in this case it detracts somewhat from the Verano?s smooth, seamless character.
Suspension has been firmed up a bit, mostly to compensate for the added weight of the turbocharged engine. I liked the original Verano primarily for its upscale comfort level and composed ride.
No disappointment here, as the Turbo model retains that poised composure, with an ultra-quiet interior and a smooth yet taut ride. The biggest difference is when you press down on the gas pedal; the Verano Turbo?s added power livens it up and shortens passing time at highway speed considerably.
Despite the extra horsepower, combined fuel consumption is within two-tenths of a litre of the non-turbo model, at 8.5L/100 km (8.4L for the manual), though premium fuel is now recommended.
Despite its entry-level status in the Buick lineup, once you factor in all the standard features and its luxo-sedan ride and interior comfort, the Verano is a great value. The Verano Turbo, which arrives at dealers in November, just adds more power to that combination.
2013 Buick Verano Turbo
ENGINE: 2.0L turbocharged Ecotec L four-cylinder
POWER/TORQUE: 250 hp/260 lb.-ft.
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed automatic or six-speed manual
FUEL CONSUMPTION L/100 KM (claimed): AT 8.5; MT 8.4
COMPETITION: Acura ILX, Audi A4, Lexus IS 250
WHAT?S BEST: More powerful turbocharged engine doesn?t compromise the Verano?s remarkably smooth, quiet ride
WHAT?S WORST: The switch to more expensive premium fuel
WHAT?S INTERESTING: Even after all the available options are added in, the Verano Turbo still undercuts the base Regal by about $3,500
The vehicle tested by freelance writer Costa Mouzouris was provided by the manufacturer. Email: [email protected]?