2013 Buick Verano Turbo
2013 Buick Verano Turbo. Click image to enlarge

Review by Paul Williams, photos by Paul Williams and courtesy GM Canada

For 2013, Buick has delivered a high-performance version of its much-lauded Verano compact sedan in the form of the Verano Turbo. It’s even available with a six-speed manual (6MT) transmission, which is the subject of our test drive.

Truth be told, this car is something of a head-scratcher. Starting at $28,695 it’s quite luxurious and has gobs of power from its 250-hp, 260 lb-ft, 2.0L turbocharged four.

But it’s not like a Volkswagen GTI or a Mazdaspeed3. It’s a more mature package, I think, and at our tester’s fully optioned $36,385 price, it’s got a fairly mature price, too (the six-speed manual is a no-charge option) although you could easily drop the price by $995 by avoiding the “diamond tricoat” white paint. Our tester, by the way, arrived with the 1ST Preferred Equipment Package that includes three major equipment groups (Convenience, Comfort, Leather). Additional selected options included sunroof, GPS system and special paint and wheels.

I suppose it’s the manual transmission that muddies the water, though. It’s a nice transmission, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the image that a 6MT presents in this sector that may suggest the GTI pretensions.

The Buick, in contrast, is a tight yet very comfortable vehicle without a hint of urgency in its driveline or demeanour. Front-wheel drive and a four-door sedan, it’s kind of like it’s got a turbo in its back pocket, for when you need it. Otherwise this is one serene vehicle in which to motor around.

I won’t be the first to comment on the Verano’s super-quiet ride. It features what Buick calls a “QuietTuning” acoustics package, with company engineers setting quietness as a critical target. They’ve applied several methods to reduce cabin noise while maintaining desirable vehicle feedback, and the combination of noise cancelling and noise reduction is immediately evident from the moment you close the door in a Verano. It’s impressive!

Before closing the door, however, you’ll be sizing up the exterior and likely concluding that it’s an appealing car. The Buick grille still seems incongruous, but I’m getting used to it, I guess, and the shape of the body is clearly German-inspired and executed well.

Our Verano Turbo featured a dual exhaust, rear spoiler, optional 18-inch twin five-spoke machined alloy wheels with silver finish ($525), chrome side window moulding, fog lights and blue-tinted ‘simulated HID’ headlights (yes, that’s a new one on me). It’s not a “boy-racer” exterior by any means, but it looks purposeful, or at least capable.

2013 Buick Verano Turbo2013 Buick Verano Turbo2013 Buick Verano Turbo2013 Buick Verano Turbo
2013 Buick Verano Turbo. Click image to enlarge

Inside you’re greeted with leather seating, heated seats and steering wheel, keyless start, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bose audio, ambient lighting and high-mounted seven-inch colour touchscreen.

The leather, while good enough, did strike me as being of a lower grade, mainly because it didn’t seem to hold its shape very well in our almost-new car (then again, maybe the “soft look” was intended). But I liked the instrument cluster with its soft blue illumination and found most of the controls easy to locate and operate (there are lots of buttons, however, all clustered together).

On the road, the Verano Turbo is generally something of a pussycat. It immediately feels comfortable, the door closes with a thunk, the engine fires up and idles quietly (there’s no cat-back style exhaust note), the shifter willingly finds first, and you’re on your way.

You move smoothly through the gears, the clutch is light, while the steering a little relaxed but sharp enough. Stomp on the gas and all hell does not break loose, but the Verano definitely wakes up. As I say, it’s there if you need it, and when you do it’ll blast from standstill to 100 km/h in just over six seconds. But in everyday driving it’s firm, tight, quiet and comfortable. Again, Germanic.

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