General Motors’ best-selling Buick, the subcompact Encore, has a new face and body — and also a sibling. Both vehicles, each carrying the Encore name, saw the light of day Monday at Auto Shanghai, but only one will grace dealerships on this side of the Pacific.
Buick is a big deal in China, and today the SAIC-GM joint venture thrust four Buick-badged vehicles on that depressed, yet still largest auto market. One is an electric vehicle, the Velite 6 MAV (Multi-Activity Vehicle) — a four-door hatch that blends the boundaries of crossover and wagon.
Another, the GL8 Avenir concept MPV, is a high-end van that’s as close to production-ready as a van can get. The Avenir-sub-brand isn’t just for North Americans, you know; Chinese buyers would also like to shell out more dough to attain that status-elevating label. The GL8, if you weren’t aware, debuted in 2016.
Now, the 2020 model-year Encores. GM teased the models earlier this year, leading to some confusion as to which Encore would eventually become the American Encore. Until now, both Chinese and North American Encores were the same vehicle, but GM decided to split the nameplate, adopting the emerging-markets GEM platform for the more affordable of the two.
It now seems that the longer-wheelbase Encore GX (seen at the top of the page) is the one we’ll get, as that model rides atop familiar architecture. According to GM Authority, the Encore GX adopts GM’s VSS-F platform and is classified as “subcompact plus,” thus implying additional interior volume versus the outgoing generation.
GM filed a trademark application for the Encore GX name in the U.S. last year.
Beyond this, there isn’t much else to go on. This was a Chinese debut, and the automaker would only say that both models make use of eighth-generation Ecotec engines, as well as a nine-speed Hydra-Matic transmission or continuously variable automatic.
Encore sales rose 5.7 percent in the U.S. last year, with 93,073 units sold. Compare that to the second best-selling Enclave, which moved 49,647 units in 2018. In the first three months of 2019, Encore sales slipped 3.4 percent.
[Images: General Motors]