2013 Buick Verano Turbo road test: Power upgrade adds fun factor to compact luxury sedan

 2013 Buick Verano Turbo

2013 Buick Verano Turbo

Over the last 40 years or so, a number of  Buicks could have been called sleepers (as in snooze inducing), but the 2013 Buick Verano Turbo is a sleeper of a very different kind.

Instead of cradling its passengers in floaty, semi-soporific splendor, this compact luxury sedan pumps a little adrenaline into the experience,

The turbocharged  two-liter, four-cylinder engine can catapult the attractive front-wheel-drive sedan to 60 mph in a tad over 6 seconds,  the stiffened suspension grips the road authoritatively without unnecessarily jarring the passengers, and, surprise of surprises, driving enthusiasts  can even opt for a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment.

But this is no braggadocio of a car like, say, the upcoming all-new Chevy Corvette Stingray. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to spot the difference between it and the standard Verano (which looks a lot like the larger Buick Regal) unless you knew to look at the dual exhaust pipes and the tiny “T” and discreet spoiler on the trunk lid.

As a result, you can enjoy the smooth thrust of 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque while friends, neighbors and maybe even the police think you are simply gliding along peacefully in, well, a Buick.

And, that’s why we can call it a sleeper.

2013 Buick Verano Turbo instrument panel

2013 Buick Verano Turbo instrument panel

Buick marketers are not even trying to target the Verano Turbo as a compact carouser, opting instead to spotlight the quiet cabin and upscale amenities of this gussied up sibling to the down-market Chevrolet Cruze.

We’re talking full-size luxury in a down-size sedan that just happens to be entertaining to drive.

Actually, there appears to be sound reasoning behind the decision to advertise this Verano as a luxury car rather than a sports sedan. The next big competition among luxury car makers appears to be in smaller vehicles.

Acura recently introduced the ILX, Audi is updating the A3,  BMW has the 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz will soon introduce the CLA, which looks much like the larger coupe-like CLS sedan. In addition, Jaguar is likely to enter the small-car sweepstakes and Lexus has just updated its IS models.

So let’s take a look at what the 2013 Buick Verano Turbo has to offer.

First of all, while the Verano is classified as a compact, its interior dimensions are very close to mid-size. The Verano will hold four average-size adults adults in comfort and it’s possible to squeeze a fifth one in the middle of the second-row bench for short trips.

Add to that a 15-cubic-foot trunk that can be enlarged by folding forward the 60/40 split rear seatbacks and you have a sedan that is as practical as it is luxurious and sporty.

The engine is more than just quick. It is exceptionally refined, smooth and quiet with almost no turbo lag. Another thing almost unnoticeable is torque steer, that annoying tug on the steering wheel that can be the bane of powerful front-wheel-drive automobiles.