Buick Sticks to Stick-Shifts to Offer Choice, Performance

Sami Haj-Assaad
by Sami Haj-Assaad
Buick Regal GS performance sedan in crystal red tintcoat cruising the Michigan countryside.

Buick recently released detailed specifications on the surprisingly powerful Verano Turbo. Along with the 250 hp engine is the continued option of a six-speed manual transmission.

In a time when even exotic car makers are switching to dual-clutch automatics and BMW would prefer not to offer a stick-shift, Buick, of all brands, is continuing to offer the shift-it-yourself, preferred-by-enthusiasts feature.

The 2013 Verano Turbo joins the ranks of the Regal Turbo and Regal GS as the three Buicks with manual transmissions. Buick says that they now offer more manual transmissions than exotic car-maker Ferrari. Is Buick really aiming for the enthusiast market with these self-rowers?

Not exactly. “Our strategy has more to do with choices for our customers than anything else,” said Phil Colley, from Buick communications.

“There are people who simply prefer a manual transmission, and as we’ve learned with Regal Turbo and GS,” said Colley. “Our customers prefer to have that choice.”

Still, the Regal Turbo and GS are both considered the ‘sportier’ Buick vehicles. Each makes 220-hp or more, and comes equipped with tighter suspension. They also come with the brand’s Interactive Drive Control function that allows for several modes, including a ‘sport’ that quickens up steering feel.

Colley even told us that Buick sells more manual transmissions in the Regal GS’ than automatic equipped ones, which is particularly interesting because the automatic is a no-cost option.

“With the added performance and fun of the Verano Turbo, offering an available manual seemed like a natural choice” said Colley.

Pricing details on the new Verano Turbo haven’t been announced yet, but the 2012 Verano costs just $22,585, and tops out at $26,850. It will be interesting to see if Buick also offers a no-cost transmission option on the more powerful Verano Turbo.

Colley wouldn’t comment on if the manual transmission choice is something Buick would offer were it not for the fact that such units are already engineered and available in other GM models. Still, the fact that Buick goes through the trouble of engineering and emissions certifying manual transmissions for three of its models shows that the decision to do so is either profitable at the dealership level or as a marketing effort.

Buick, after all, is rumored to be preparing a new wave of exciting models, with recent GM trademark filings for the names “Riviera” and “ Grand Nationa l” suggesting a future that’s as exciting as its past, rather than the old man pigeonhole the brand is currently stuck in.

Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad

Sami has an unquenchable thirst for car knowledge and has been at AutoGuide for the past six years. He has a degree in journalism and media studies from the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto and has won multiple journalism awards from the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada. Sami is also on the jury for the World Car Awards.

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  • Brian Massie Brian Massie on Jun 18, 2012

    Stick shift and tighter suspensions help fight the image of a Country Club cruiser, but more power is needed to even be in the ballpark of other performance minded competitors. There is a lot of strong competition in the price range and the rebranding of Cadillac to include lower cost and performance vehicles eats into potential Buick sales. If one were to look at 1970, arguably the last high water mark for the American automobile, the Buick GSX offered comparable performance to that of the legendary Hemi Cuda / Challenger albeit with much more luxury. That same year, Cadillac offered nothing resembling a sporting car, only luxury tourers. The Buick of today is too limited as far as variations on the given platforms. Offering a wagon variant of existing models and even an all wheel drive option would do much to expand market share and define the brand. I envision Buick as the Audi meets Jaguar fighter at Acura / budget BMW prices.