Buick Reveals 2011 Excelle GT Sedan for China

By Chris Haak

GM China has revealed its 2011 Excelle GT sedan.  The new car, which is an Opel Astra with Buick-specific front and rear clips.  The new Excelle replaces the former Daewoo Lacetti/Nubria-based model of the same name, and is dramatically better.

The Excelle shares its global compact (“Delta II”) platform with the new Chevrolet Cruze and Opel Astra, and shares the same base engine as the US-built Cruze will have.  The base engine is a 1.8 liter four cylinder that produces 138 horsepower, and the optional engine is a 1.6 liter turbo four that produces 181 horsepower.  Both engines are mated exclusively to six-speed automatics.

The Excelle is currently built in China for Chinese consumption, but the car is expected to launch for the US market in fall 2011 as a 2012 model.  The car will sold in the US will be built in the US, .  Yours truly is speculating that, since it’s built on the same fundamental platform as the Lordstown, Ohio-built Cruze, the Excelle (whatever it’s going to be called in North America) will likely share the Cruze’s assembly plant.

Seeing only somewhat-grainy photos of the car and its interior, it’s hard to make a solid judgment call.  However, the shape is something of a translation of the Regal’s [non-Buick-like] design language onto a smaller palette.  In profile, the Excelle looks a bit like the LaCrosse, which isn’t a bad thing at all.  Inside, the shapes are similar to the Regal’s, but it’s a reasonable assumption that materials quality will be dialed back a bit from that which I saw in the Regal when I drove it last month.  And that’s OK – the compact Buick will sell for less than the Regal and have lower expectations.

Just as the Regal has to help GM to make up for lost Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura volume and lower the median buyer age, this car will have to help the company replace some lost Pontiac G5 volume, and give Buick-GMC dealers (formerly Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealers) a volume model.  It will also lower the entry price for a Buick (possibly at the expense of the brand’s near-luxury credentials, but that will depend upon the car’s marketing and product execution) and give those dealers some much-needed volume.

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Techshake's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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  1. I think it is possible for Buick to move too far downmarket, and this car is that step-too-far. It takes away from Buick’s premium aspirations.

    My neighbor drives a mid-’90s Skylark sedan (the Achieva-clone one) that’s all awkward angles and non-round rear wheel openings. I see hints of that car’s awkwardness in the Excelle pictured here.

    Ironically that neighbor who owns the Skylark is a Chinese expat working in the US, who chose the Skylark because he owned a Buick in China and he thought of the Buick brand as very high end. However, when he and his wife became a two-car household last year, they chose a brand new (current-gen) Honda Accord EX. Evidently the lustre of the Buick name wasn’t great enough for them to buy a second one.

  2. Those 1990s Skylarks were terrible, ugly cars. I had an Achieva, as you know, and I’m not about to sit here defending that one either, but at least it didn’t have the stupid pointy nose and fender skirts on the two-door. And my Quad 4’s head gasket did develop a leak, of course.

    To the point – this car is basically going to compete with the Lincoln C-segment car that was confirmed last week. But I wonder if the EcoBoost engine in the Lincoln will out-power this thing’s 181-horsepower 1.6 liter mill.

  3. I hope GM does not tarnish Buick’s good and upscale reputation in China by repeating what Cimarron did to Cadillac. Taking a cue from BMW, Buick should produce small cars but in an upscale package consistent with its near luxury positioning.

  4. Alex, the old Buick Excelle was just a Daewoo with a Buick grille. This car is actually moving the name upscale and improving upon the former car in nearly every way.

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