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For over twenty years, Buick has languished with the unfortunate image of the choice ride for octogenarians.Their conservative design, colossal proportions, and lackluster performance specs have left new generations of buyers feeling wholly underwhelmed. Dangerously close to the chopping block in 2008, Buick was forced into a last ditch effort to show buyers that it wasn't out of this fight.

Which brings me to the Buick Verano:

Pretty, isn't it? So pretty, in fact, that the company's latest adverts feature a bunch of Gen Yers looking at it (and other cars in the lineup) and asking, "Is that a Buick?" It's a smart ad, and an accurate one at that: while the Verano maintains a lot of Buick's distinctive styling cues, this is a product of a much different Buick.

The standard Verano (chassis mate with the equally compact Chevrolet Cruze) comes equipped with a gutsy 2.4-litre Ecotec engine delivering 180 horsepower and 171 pound feet of torque. This, coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission, make the base car a sprightly little cruiser.

Mine, however, was not the base car. Mine came with aluminum sports pedals and a small chrome "T" next to the rear badging that could only mean one thing: turbo

The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine delivers some 255 horsepower and 260 pound feet of torque, which makes for an astonishing amount of pickup in such a tiny vehicle. It also doesn't suffer from the body roll and wallow that plagued fast Buicks in the past - as the Verano picks up speed it almost seems to hug the asphalt, gripping every corner with the sort of handling you don't expect from a Buick.

Inside, you'll find no crushed velour, wooden dash kits, or any other marques of the old Buick. Instead we are met with a lush and comfortable leather wrapped interior and an instrument panel covered in many buttons that can do many things.

Simply put, the Verano is a triumph. It is an attractive, comfortable, and gutsy little five-seater with all the makings of a modern luxury car. Even with the added turbo-charger, it comes in at a little over $30,000, a true bargain in the realm of compact luxury. The Verano is everything a Buick should be, and in a few years I doubt anybody will ever ask, "Is that a Buick?" again.

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