Detroit: For the first time in its history, General Motors' Buick luxury brand will get an upscale compact car.
The company says it will unveil the Buick Verano on Monday at the Detroit auto show, GM's only new model to debut at the event.
The Verano is a small car based on the Chevrolet Cruze that GM says is designed to compete against the Audi A3 and Volvo S40 in the entry-level luxury market.
GM engineers say they went to great lengths to make the car different from the Cruze, enhancing its handling and ride with a suspension borrowed from Europe's Opel Astra, changing the body to give it a more sculpted, aerodynamic look and making the car quieter with better insulation and window glass. GM also says the car has a far more luxurious interior than the Cruze.
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In past years, GM was guilty of selling the same car across many of its brands with only minor cosmetic differences between them. But Jim Federico, the car's chief engineer, said the Verano will be far different from the Cruze to compete with sophisticated European and Japanese luxury brands.
"We learned from our mistakes," he said.
The Verano, to be built in Michigan, will arrive in showrooms sometime in the fourth quarter. Pricing was not announced, but the car is expected to cost somewhere between the luxury version of the Cruze, which starts around $22,000, and the midsize Buick Regal, which starts around $26,000.
The car also is expected to attract younger buyers, helping Buick as it tries to shed its image of offering cars for senior citizens. Last year the average age of a Buick buyer was 65.
Buick sales rose 52 percent last year with a series of revamped models such as the Regal and LaCrosse larger luxury sedan.