GM High-Tech Performance Blogs
A true performance car may soon be returning to the Buick lineup
The rumor mill has be turning for some time that Buick could, and possibly should, have a new version of the famous Grand National. Enthusiasts have long clamored for a RWD or AWD sports car with a turbo V-6 under the Buick nameplate, and with styling that recounts the "going fast with class" moniker. The latest rumor states that there will be three versions like the G-body predecessor: T-type (available in all colors), Grand National (black only with unique styling cues), and even a GNX model. For the T-type and Grand National, the powerplant is said to be none other than a twin-turbo 3.6L V-6 making between 350 and 400 horsepower. Upping the ante for the GNX may mean use of the new LT1 V-8 (450+hp). The new sports car will be based upon the Alpha chassis platform, which is the basis for the 2013 Cadillac ATS (available in both AWD and RWD).
Considering that the rear-wheel drive ATS weighs 3,461-lbs with the 3.6L V-6, this speaks very well for a well-balanced and competitive sports car. Even in the all-wheel drive configuration, the ATS still comes in at just over 3,600-lbs with a 51.5/48.5 distribution. Chop off two-doors to make it a coupe, use lightweight body panels, and remove some of the features that make the ATS a Cadillac – we could be looking at 3,200 to 3,300-lbs for a RWD Grand National. By most drag race calculators, the RWD ATS with 400hp would be a tenth or two faster than the current Camaro. In addition, this chassis lends itself to handling on par with a Camaro as well – a huge leap from its G-body predecessor that was only successful in straight line acceleration. This would be further enhanced by an optional all-wheel drive system, making the car even more appealing for winter driving and slippery driving conditions.
How likely is this to actually happen? This is a very tough question to answer. What we do know is that GM likes reviving nameplates (like the LT1, GTO, etc). And we also know that there is a twin-turbo variation of the 3.6L V-6 thanks to some leaked photos that were supposed to be related to the new LT1 engine. The Buick brand could use an injection of life and excitement, which this new model(s) would definitely provide. In addition, a fuel efficient sports car is definitely the image that GM would like to portray – helping to offset the thousands of V-8 powered cars and trucks that it sells.
Should it happen? Most of it, yes… My opinion is that the GNX name should be left untarnished. No matter how awesome this new version may or may not be, it has no place reusing this name given the rarity of the original and its status in GM's history (especially if they plan to use a V-8). The T-type and Grand National names, I think must even be reused with care. The styling must honor the past while still pushing the envelope, being completely edgy, and undeniably attractive (and of course it must be a coupe or available in a coupe). Otherwise this car may suffer the same fate as the GTO, losing the interest of the faithful (and target audience)…hoping to one day receive some sort of rebirth among a small cult following once the model is long since dropped from the lineup. And that would be a major fail.