How high will Buick performance go?

2013 Buick Verano Turbo

2013 Buick Verano Turbo  (Buick)

Buick may be best known these days for sensible sedans and crossovers, but the brand is also heading full-throttle back into the performance arena.

Following last year’s introduction of the 270 hp Regal GS, complete with its optional 6-speed manual transmission and adjustable sports suspension, Buick has announced a hopped-up version of its mild-mannered Verano compact. The Verano Turbo will be powered by a 250 hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder and go head to head with the likes of the Acura ILX and Volkswagen GLI when it goes on sale later this year.

With front-wheel drive powertrains and good fuel economy, Buick calls the philosophy behind these sportier efforts “intelligent performance,” but could something more carnal be on the way?

The automotive blog GMInsideNews.com reports that General Motors recently renewed its trademark for the Riviera nameplate, and filed for ones for Grand National and GNX, as well.

While late model Rivieras were relatively bland front-wheel drive luxury two-doors, back in the 1960s and ‘70s the car was powered by big V8s, while the Grand National - a reference to the NASCAR racing series - was a low-volume line of turbocharged Regal coupes that terrorized drag strips in the 1980’s and culminated with the 13-second quarter-mile GNX of 1987.

So, is a rear-drive revival in the works at Buick?

Mum’s the word at HQ, and it’s not unusual for automakers to protect the names of out-of-production cars, but something interesting just happened down the hall at Chevrolet that could keep hope alive.

Back in April GM mysteriously trademarked the “SS” name, which has been used over the years like “GS” is on high performance versions of Chevrolet cars and trucks. A month later Chevy announced that next year it will start selling a V8-powered rear-wheel-drive sports sedan called the SS, which will also be the basis for its NASCAR entry.

How hard could it be to replace the Bowtie with three shields and throw a set of VentiPorts on the hood of one of those?

Not hard at all.

(But here's hoping they try a little harder than that.)