Shanghai GM launches sales this week of the all-new Buick Encore, the first of the joint venture's cross/utility vehicles to be built in China, at an event in Guangzhou.

Available in all-wheel and front-wheel drive, the small CUV is offered in four trim levels. It is priced from RMB150,000 to RMB200,000 ($23,870-$31,347). Advance orders are being taken at more than 500 Buick dealerships throughout the country.

Shanghai GM President Ye Yongmin says in a statement the Encore opens up a new high-end segment in China. “It is targeted to young consumers who prefer the convenience and functionality of (a CUV). We recently sold our 4 millionth Buick since the brand’s introduction in China. The arrival of the Encore marks the start of an exciting new era for Buick.”

The 5-passenger Encore is being offered in China with an Ecotec 1.4L turbocharged gasoline engine that develops 138 hp. It is mated to a Chinese-produced 6-speed automatic transmission and also is offered with an imported 6-speed manual gearbox.

The engine meets Euro 5 emission standards and has a fuel-economy rating of 34 mpg (6.9 L/100 km).

The available AWD system automatically delivers and adjusts torque to front or rear wheels as required by varying driving conditions. It can switch from intelligent all-wheel mode to front drive and back again in two-tenths of a second.

The new CUV is equipped with the Buick IntelliLink voice-activated infotainment system and OnStar security and communication service.

Analysts say Shanghai GM badly needs the Encore, which debuts in the U.S. next year, as small CUVs are very much in demand in China right now, especially among younger buyers. The auto maker has yet to reveal a sales goal for the Encore.