Shanghai GM, a joint venture between General Motors and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), has officially introduced its 2007 Buick LaCrosse mid-size sedan.
While, unlike previous decades when one of the world’s largest countries frantically tried to build Communism, the growing Chinese middle class now has a plenty of makes and models to choose from (those including best of the best from Europe and Japan), founders of the new JV probably have a gut feeling that the American brand still has a slight edge above the competition: after all, during all these years Buick was regarded as the car of choice for any successful citizen. Still, the American car manufacturer will have to try really hard to ensure the local crowd that its cars are in the same league with at least entry-level models from Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus.
Although being based on the first generation 2005 Buick LaCrosse that was originally created for the American market, the Chinese version of the entry-luxury car will be equipped with different engines to better suit specific needs of local consumers.
Quite predictably, they will be both smaller and more fuel efficient. They will hopefully be a bit cleaner since a number of the most densely populated coastal cities already suffer from an almost unbearable level of air pollution. It is only a matter of time when the Chinese government will enact new regulations limiting the amount of harmful particles allowed to be thrown into the air for every mile it travels.
The vehicle’s interior and exterior trims have also undergone a number of modifications.
For example, the Chinese version of the car features a completely different radiator grille and headlamps on the front and more prominent taillights on the rear.
There is also lots of wood veneer on the vehicle’s dashboard, steering wheel, central tunnel and even doors, which is nicely combined with brown leather and soft to touch plastic. To my taste, the grey plastic of the entertainment system looks a bit out of place here and clearly cheapens the interior. Still, the car is not terribly expensive, so you basically get what you pay for.
Since the car is set to compete against such bitter rivals in the upper medium segment of the Chinese market as the Toyota Camry and the Ford Taurus, the Chinese Buicks feature an elegant design (a little bit resembling that of the German VW Passat B5 sedan, though), and come with a better choice of engines.
The Chinese newspaper says that the 2007 Buick LaCrosse CX and CXS models, priced at 239,800 yuan and 269,800 yuan respectively, are equipped with the ECOTEC D-VVT 2.4-liter all-alloy four-cylinder engine with sequential fuel injection (SFI) and electronic throttle control (ETC).
More expensive (329,800 yuan) LaCrosse CXL features a bigger, yet still efficient 3.0-liter V6 engine with Active Fuel Management (AFM) system and an ability to shut down three of its six cylinders when not needed.
It is expected that Chinese customers will be able to buy the new Buick LaCrosse in the second quarter of this year.
2007 Buick LaCrosse CXL specification:
Body Type: 4-door sedan
Layout: front engine, FWD
Engine: 3.0-liter, V6
Top Speed: N/A
0 – 62 mph: N/A
Exterior Dimensions (L/W/H/WB): N/A
Ground clearance: N/A
Track (frt/rr): N/A / n/A
Curb to curb turning circle (feet): N/A
Curb Weight: N/A
Coefficient of Drag (Cd): N/A
Seating Capacity: 5 (2/3)
Cargo Volume (seats DO NOT fold): N/A
Payload (max w/ occupants and cargo): N/A
Towing Capacity (max): N/A
Direct Competitors: Honda Accord, Mazda Mazda6, Chrysler 300, Toyota Camry