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2020 Buick Verano sedan debuts

Chinese Holden Astra relative gets a nip-and-tuck and new engines for 2020.
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A refreshed version of the Buick Verano sedan has debuted in China.

The Verano uses the same D2XX platform as our Holden Astra and has a 2700mm wheelbase, identical to the recently discontinued Astra sedan.

Unlike our Astra, however, the 2020 Verano has ditched four-cylinder engines for a pair of turbocharged three-pots. There’s a 1.0-litre mill with 92kW and 180Nm, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and a 1.3 unit with 121kW and 240Nm of torque mated to a CVT.

Buick claims the new engines will achieve a combined 5.2L/100km and 5.5L/100km, respectively.

Like other recent Buicks, the 2020 Verano gets Buick’s new winged grille. There’s also a more aggressive front bumper, while out back there’s a restyled rear bumper and taillights.

A chrome bar connects the taillights like on the refreshed 2020 LaCrosse, Buick’s flagship sedan. The overall effect is sportier than the rather staid pre-facelift model, though this is still a relatively conservative design.

Inside, changes are limited to a new steering wheel and an updated 8-inch infotainment system. The system allows for over-the-air updates and has Apple CarPlay and Baidu CarLife connectivity.

Options for the Verano include adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, autonomous emergency braking and an automatic parking feature.

The second-generation Verano sedan was introduced to the Chinese market in 2015 and is sold alongside the Verano GS, little more than an Opel Astra hatch with Buick badges and some sportier trim.

In China, Buick is GM’s best-selling brand and shifted over a million units in 2018. The Verano sits below the Regal (Holden Commodore) and full-size LaCrosse but above the Excelle GT, which uses the GM-PATAC K platform derived from the old Cruze’s Delta II platform, and the Excelle, which uses the new Global Emerging Markets (GEM) platform.

Yes, that means Buick of China has three mostly unrelated yet similarly-sized sedans in its range. In China, you can seemingly never have enough sedans.

With Chevrolet Cruze production ending in the US, Mexico and South Korea, there’s no replacement for the recently-discontinued Holden Astra sedan.

Although Holden has discontinued the Astra wagon and will trim the hatchback range for 2020, Peugeot-Citroen last week confirmed "there is a commercial agreement that [supply of the Astra and Commodore] must be for a certain period".

"It doesn’t mean that after that period we cannot extend that contract," said executive vice president and operations director for Peugeot-Citroen in India and the Pacific, Emmanuel Delay.

That leaves the Verano as GM’s only non-crossover on the D2XX platform and therefore the only conceivable replacement for the Astra sedan, although it’s not currently built in right-hand drive.

While there are other small GM cars sold in Asian and Latin American markets, they use older platforms or ones designed for developing markets. An example is the Chevrolet Cavalier, effectively a rebodied version of our old Cruze.

If Holden doesn’t extend its contract with PSA to source the Astra hatch, it could follow Nissan and Mitsubishi’s example and eliminate its car line-up.

With the demise of the Spark and Barina, Holden is down to just the Astra hatchback and the Commodore range. There’s precedent as, in North America, Chevrolet is in the process of eliminating all its passenger cars bar the Camaro and Corvette, while Buick will soon be down to just the PSA-sourced Regal.