April 6, 2004
New York auto show
GM unveils Buick Velite
New York, New York – GM unveiled the Buick Velite today, an upscale rear-drive mid-size automobile. Named for an elite class of quick-moving soldiers in Napoleon’s army, the Velite was designed at GM’s Advanced Studio in Warren, Michigan and assembled at coachbuilder Stile Bertone’s studio in Italy. Its sister car, the Opel Insignia, debuted the Zeta architecture at the Frankfurt International Auto Show last year.
“Velite is a new expression of Buick’s longstanding heritage in understated yet sophisticated design,” said Anne Asensio, executive director – GM Advanced Design. “While certainly an expression of premium American style, the Velite’s impressive stance and overall presence emphasize a sumptuous driving experience that further pushes Buick on to the centre of the world stage of luxurious touring cars.”
The Velite’s hood integrates portholes – three per side – in a romantic, yet contemporary nod to Buick’s heritage. The hood tilts forward when opened, creating a dramatic look that evokes a bygone era of touring cars. A complementing clamshell deck lid opens in the opposite direction to swallow the Velite’s folding soft top. When retracted, the top is completely covered by the rear deck for an integrated, contoured look reminiscent of Buick’s dramatic boattail designs of the 1930s.
Power comes from Buick’s experimental twin-turbocharged, intercooled global V-6 engine. Four hundred horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque are derived from its DOHC design and 3.6-litre displacement. The engine features fuel-saving variable valve timing technology, which is available on some of GM’s four-, five-, six- and eight-cylinder engines. Through the use of variable engine valve timing, valve lift and duration is continuously varied to improve fuel economy, horsepower and torque, while reducing emissions.
The V-6 is backed by a Hydra-Matic six-speed, rear-wheel-drive automatic transmission equipped with manual tap-shift gear selection. A pair of large, oval exhaust outlets provides a reminder that performance is a part of the vehicle’s character.
“It’s a forward-looking vehicle that not only stands for Buick in America, but how American style, performance and prestige resonates in a contemporary, global form,” said Tom Peters, Buick Velite’s chief designer. “It’s premium performance to go with a contemporary, muscular presence.”