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The Cascada compact 2+2 convertible exemplifies a lot of what’s going right for Buick. It’s essentially a twin of a car General Motors’ European Opel brand began selling in 2013. Buick is a major beneficiary of the globalization of GM’s engineering and vehicle-development processes. Opel developed the Cascada using GM’s global architecture, which also underpins the closely related Opel Astra and Buick Verano compacts.
If GM hadn’t allied Buick with Opel a few years ago, the U.S. Cascada wouldn’t exist. The convergence of the brands’ design, engineering and personalities has helped both enormously. Buick gets cars with sharp handling like the Cascada, Verano and Regal. Opel benefits with vehicles like the Mokka subcompact SUV, an adaptation of the Buick Encore that got Opel into one of Europe’s hot-selling segments ahead of the competition.
China also played a huge role in Buick’s resurgence. Buick’s vehicles and reputation had deteriorated badly in the U.S., but Chinese buyers remembered when Buick built great, powerful, stylish cars. They expected Buicks to be great when GM sought to do business in the world’s most populous country. GM complied by building great Buicks for the first time in decades, and that ethic fed back into the U.S. Buick model line.
Buick sold 1.23 million vehicles last year — 900,000 in China. It’s GM’s second-biggest brand globally behind Chevrolet. Add Opel’s 1.1 million, and the twinned brands are a global powerhouse, performing well in the biggest, toughest markets on the planet.