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Auto Express: Astra's New Family

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This article appeared in Auto Express at the end of September. I didn't see it posted anywhere on this forum, so I decided to go ahead and initiate a topic with it.

Link: Auto Express: Astra's New Family.

If this article is accurate, then GM could have used the Astra line to transform and rebuild Pontiac as well as Buick.

Pontiac would have received:

* Astra 5-door: Pontiac LeMans

* Astra roadster: Pontiac Solstice

* Astra (Calibra) coupe: Pontiac Fiero

Buick would have received:

* Astra sedan: Buick Centieme

* Astra CUV (4x4): Buick Bravura

Basically, Pontiac would get the sportier looking variants while Buick would get the more elegant looking variants. Pontiac's lineup would have been completed by an Insignia based Grand Prix sedan and a Commodore based Bonneville sedan (and maybe a Trans Am 2+2 sports coupe on Alpha). Buick's lineup would have been completed by the 2010 LaCrosse (although I would have rechristened it "LeSabre"), a Statesman/Caprice based Invicta sedan (with significantly restyled front/rear treatments; the Invicta could also be an Epsilon-Plus based fullsize sedan instead of being based on the Statesman/Caprice), an Epsilon based Rendezvous crossover/"4x4" (that won't compete with the Theta based Terrain?), and the Enclave (which would maybe move to Epsilon-Plus for its next gen model cycle so it won't compete with the Acadia?).

Pontiac would have shared the Opel/Vauxhall front rear treatments (except for the installation of a twin-nostril grille) while Buick would get significantly restyled front/rear treatments (much like the upcoming compact Buick sedan based on the next gen Astra sedan) to differentiate its products from Pontiac's products. Pontiac products would continue with red lit interiors while Buick products would continue with blue lit interiors.

This article just made me think of what "could have been"...

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I think that would've been a bad idea. If anything, I think would give GM more of a incentive to eventually ditch the Pontiac brand if they didn't do it already. First reason why this wouldn't work: GM would have to sink a lot of money into restyling each car both inside and out to make them as different as possible from each other (remember, Pontiac and Buick were sharing a dealership and they would've continued to do so). This would drive up the costs of the car and they would probably never make most of their money back. Second reason: in order to be sold under the Pontiac brand, they would have to dumb down the Astra and decontent it to keep costs down making for a less than spectacular product.

I think Buick will do just fine selling the different Astra variants since it's already trying to improve it's image among the youth.

I still think GM was right to ditch Pontiac. The brand was a shadow of its former self. Though it was showing signs of a resurgence, With the new CAFE standards and GM's massive debt (both of which lead to the premature death of the G8) Pontiac never stood a chance at truly recovering.

Edited by Cadillacfan
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I think that would've been a bad idea. If anything, I think would give GM more of a incentive to eventually ditch the Pontiac brand if they didn't do it already. First reason why this wouldn't work: GM would have to sink a lot of money into restyling each car both inside and out to make them as different as possible from each other (remember, Pontiac and Buick were sharing a dealership and they would've continued to do so). This would drive up the costs of the car and they would probably never make most of their money back. Second reason: in order to be sold under the Pontiac brand, they would have to dumb down the Astra and decontent it to keep costs down making for a less than spectacular product.

I think Buick will do just fine selling the different Astra variants since it's already trying to improve it's image among the youth.

I still think GM was right to ditch Pontiac. The brand was a shadow of its former self. Though it was showing signs of a resurgence, With the new CAFE standards and GM's massive debt (both of which lead to the premature death of the G8) Pontiac never stood a chance at truly recovering.

The only change GM would need to make to the Astra 5-door, roadster, and (Calibra) coupe to make them Pontiac products is installing a twin-nostril grille; GM would have to install a waterfall grille on these products if they were assigned to Buick anyway (as well as change the interior lighting scheme from red to blue and add "Quiet Tuning" measures).

As far as making dramatic exterior changes to the cars to differentiate them: it appears as though the next gen Astra sedan is already receiving some significant exterior modifications in its transition from an Opel to a Buick. The entire front and rear treatments of the Buick compact sedan are significantly different from the Opel Astra 5-door. The only common looking elements between the 2 versions are the door panels; other than that, they look like 2 totally different vehicles. I think the significant exterior modifications as well as the difference in bodystyles would be enough to keep these vehicles from appearing and being perceived as rebadges. This is a little different than taking a Cobalt coupe, simply changing the grille and taillights, and calling it a Pontiac G5. A particular bodystyle would be exclusive to its respective brand with the Buick products receiving significant modifications (which appears to be happening anyway) in order for the products to be perceived as proper Buicks. I think if you were to sit a Pontiac-ized new gen Astra 5-door next to a more significantly Buick-ized next gen Astra sedan, I doubt many people would perceive them as blatant rebadges.

As far as interior treatments, different finishes and lighting schemes could be applied to differentiate the products. Pontiac would go sportier (metallic finishes with red lighting) while Buick would go upscale (piano black with blue lighting). With the brands sharing the same dealer network, I don't think sharing the same basic interior design is a problem. The finishes of the interior just need to be customized to fit the image and mission of the respective brand.

Basically, the idea was about taking the bodystyles and assigning them to the brand that could best utilize them to reinforce the image and purpose of the respective brand. To me, Pontiac would be better at selling the hatchback, coupe, and roadster while Buick would be better at selling the sedan, crossover (or "4x4"), and possibly wagon (although I didn't include the wagon in my original post). Personally, I'm fine with all the versions of the Astra coming here as Buicks; I just want to see them offered in the U.S. market. I do think GM would have had an easier time selling some of the sportier looking Astra variants under the Pontiac brand though. I think Pontiac and Buick could have both been used to effectively target specific demographics (as well as avoided alienating Pontiac fans and loyalists) with some tweaking and fine tuning (and without utilizing rebadged Chevrolet products). Introducing coupes, roadsters, and hatchbacks back into Buick's lineup will be a tricky endeavor; I think it can be done, but it has to be carefully executed. Placing these bodystyles in Pontiac's lineup would have been virtually effortless.

Anyway, Pontiac is being phased out and Buick is being expanded (which is actually fine with me, since I tend to be more of a Buick enthusiast anyway; I still think Pontiac could have played a relevant role in GM's recovery plan, however). I wish GM lots of luck and success in expanding and transforming Buick. I hope it works out for GM as well as Buick.

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seems to me, we accept that Pontiac is gone. G3 pretty much put a nail in that coffin.

so, next agenda, how to compete with VW, Acura, Audi, etc.

The Regal is the poster child for this and needs a full line.

Likewise, to make inroads on the Golf / Jetta / Jetta SW crowd, Astra Buick needs to be offered in sedan, wagon, 3 door, 5 door. Regal needs sedan, wagon, and some would say, coupe. (BLU!)

The Regal coupe i wonder if its a regal coupe or a RIVIERA?

Buick needs a celebrity spokesperson (not Tiger Woods, LOL!!!!). Dress up Brad Pitt and send him off driving an Astra 5 door. Maybe someone like Denzel Washington in a Regal (even though I cannot effing stand him). Buick needs a woman pitchman, like Cadillac had Kate Walsh.

VW builds the bulk of its sales on two full model lines, the Golf and Passat. This strategy will work for Buick if the lines are complete.

Edited by regfootball
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