Today, Detroit News columnist Scott Burgess reviews the all new Buick Regal GS. This high- performing luxury car is sporty, fun to drive and unlike any Buick you’ve been in before! They’re on our lot, so stop by for a test drive!
Strong Buick Regal GS makes up for lost time
European-inspired car is a beast under the hood, a beauty inside and out
The 2012 Buick Regal can perform all of those daily duties with class and aplomb. It’s a fine ride indeed.
But, really, it’s when you find yourself behind the clock, running late to a meeting across town, that the Regal GS shows its true stripes: Tiger stripes. This car is a beast in Buick sheet metal.
First, allow me to backtrack. I hate being late. Nothing is more disrespectful than to show up after an agreed-upon time to meet someone. But now and again, we all try to do a little too much and get behind. So at noon one day, I found myself racing north along Interstate 75, one eye tracing the shoulder of the road up ahead, the other watching my rear-view mirror for that certain group of people sworn to protect and serve me a traffic summons.
The Regal GS, created as the sporty edition of the midsize sedan, knew its role. The 270-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 295 pound-feet of torque lets this car glide at high speeds. Drop it down to fourth gear with the extremely smooth gear shifter and this car pounces on the nearby cars.
Touch a single button and the four-wheel independent suspension goes from firm to aggressive. The Computer Dampening System continuously adjusts the suspension to handle any road input and smooth out the ride. The CDS is part of the drive-control system that has three settings: Standard, Sport and GS. As you adjust it, concrete seams disappear. The suspension system was also designed to help eliminate torque steer — that awful twist of the steering wheel caused by too much power getting to one wheel first. Torque steer has always been one of the worst features of front-wheel-drive performance cars. The Regal GS hardly has any.
When this Regal is in GS mode, even the steering tightens up to provide a firm, steady feel; you zig when everyone else is zagging. Even on those solid-line curvy parts of I-75 north of Hamtramck, the Regal GS holds its lines perfectly at higher speeds. At times, it felt like a video game. Acceleration at speed was just a push of the pedal away.
But the Regal GS needs a pilot’s deliberate hand to make it fly. Look far ahead, see the space between two cars, downshift, keep a steady hand and gun it. The car will clear the gap — every time.
There’s a reason the Regal has such a strong European feel. It’s a European car, otherwise known as the Opel Insignia. And this Regal is just as good as that Insignia, with only minor changes and a change in badges, because most Americans associate a big lightning bolt with Shazam — the superhero, not the app.
But there are some top-notch American qualities to this machine as well. It’s luxurious and well-appointed once you cross the stainless steel sill plate and step inside. Sitting in the leather 12-way adjustable driver’s seat, the fit is firm but comfortable, though I recommend tightening the bolsters to help you through sharp cornering or big exit ramps. The thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel, complete with a number of buttons to adjust the radio’s volume and operate the cruise control, also feels good in your hands — though the bottom of the wheel feels almost too thick.
The 336-watt, nine-speaker Harman Kardon stereo will blast any soundtrack you need for speed. (My list includes the songs “Planet Claire,” “Living for the City” and “Been Around the World.”)
True to its roots
While this Buick delivers on performance, it stays true to Buick’s luxurious roots. The look and feel of all of the materials are of high quality. And there are little surprises, such as the 120-volt outlet that allows you to plug in anything and recharge batteries.
There’s Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free phone operation and a USB connection for playing music. Buick also features its new IntelliLink system, which allows occupants to play apps such as Pandora and Stitcher through a seven-inch touch-screen instead of the phone. IntelliLink uses icons on the main screen and is easy to operate, either by touch-screen or a rotating knob and buttons on the center console. It’s simple to control, and that means your eyes stay on the road.
One feature I looked for but didn’t find was a rear-view camera. Visibility out the back was not very good, so there was concern, even though the Regal GS has sensors that beep as you approach objects.
Buick also features a smartphone app through OnStar that lets you start the vehicle remotely, unlock it without your keys, and monitor car information, such as oil level, tire pressure and other items.
The app is easy to use, but mostly it’s used to show off that you can unlock your doors from Paris.
Classic sedan lines
The exterior looks just as comfortable in Paris, Texas, as it does anywhere else in the world.
This car has those classic sedan lines. It’s low to the ground, well-planted and elegant at the same time. (Buick lowered the Regal GS about four-tenths of an inch compared to the regular Regal.)
Special front and rear ends give it a more racer-like look and the bi-xenon headlamps are standard.
The front includes more aggressive intakes below the bumper, and the steep windshield gives the car a fast look even when it’s parked.
The Regal GS’s backside includes dual exhaust tips that are flush with the back fascia and just look cool.
At first glance, this car doesn’t look like any Buick from this brand’s past.
But that’s the thing — this brand has already left that past behind. The Regal GS shows where Buick is heading. It’s sporty, fun and good looking. It’s a young person’s sedan. It belongs to someone who is busy, has a schedule to keep and likes to arrive on time.
And just during those few times it looks like you might be late, the Regal GS lets you steal a few minutes and spend them elsewhere.
This car doesn’t turn back the clock — it’s the future.
Exterior: Excellent; Sharp-looking sedan with strong lines and a beautiful back end.
Interior: Excellent; Nicely appointed with lots of high-tech features. Feels well-crafted throughout.
Performance: Excellent; Lots of power and excellent suspension allow this Regal to roar.
Pros: Feels nice on the road under regular driving; feels even better when the car’s limits are pushed.
Cons: Starting price will catch some off guard, but it’s worth it.