By on January 8, 2010

I guess those GS'essess was ambidexterous!

Buick has announced that it’s bringing a high(er)-performance GS version of its Opel Insignia-based Buick Regal to the Detroit Auto Show, and later, to the US market. And for once we’re left wishing we were getting a rebadge. After all, for the first several years of US sales, Insignias will be imported from Germany, meaning GM could easily have brought the thoroughly mad Insignia VXR/OPC as a quick-and-dirty (if not cheap) rebadge. After all, the point of the Regal (and especially the GS) is that “we’re trying to rebuild the performance credentials that Buick once held,” as GM reps put it. The European OPC/VXR version gets a 325 HP version of the turbocharged V6 found in the SRX and Saab TurboX, while the GS gets only a 255 hp version of the 2.0 Turbo found in the Solstice GXP. That engine can reportedly be tuned to an easy 310 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, making the “base” Regal CXL with the 220 hp 2.0T engine a much smarter buy. Unless the idea of tuning a Buick is simply more cognitive dissonance than you can handle. Otherwise, the only thing the GS really brings to the table is AWD and a bodykit with more front-end venting than the United States Senate. Still, if you’re young enough to not get a discount at Denny’s and you have to own a Buick, the Regal is the way to go… especially once an enterprising tuner starts offering Opel badging and grilles in the US market.

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41 Comments on “Buick Regal GS: The Detuned Image Changer...”


  • avatar

    Love it.  Love the wheels, the style, the AWD, the 6 speed.  I’d even be okay with them calling it a Grand National.  I’d buy one in a heartbeat.

    Assuming GM were to ever release such a car.

    I don’t have high hopes.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Oh, they’ll release it.  Buick is now GM’s dumping ground for whatever car they need to build a certain amount of but don’t quite have the volume for.  This isn’t a bad thing, as it might net more than a few nifty cars
       
      What they won’t do is commit to making it for more than a year or so.

  • avatar
    86er

    It would definitely need to be AWD standard to have any performance credibility.

  • avatar

    No,  as a Buick classic and muscle car fan they need to leave the Grand National, GN, or GNX label off this car.  Otherwise it looks really good and the GS moniker fits.

    But why on Earth would they NOT offer the V6 turbo?  The white car they are showing (which is pictured) actually has the V6 turbo under the hood.  Not only did Buick prove V6 turbos could be potent in the 1980s with the Regal, they were further known for forced induction V6s in the 90s in their FWD lineup.  Plus, Acura already learned the four-cylinder only sucks lesson the hard way with the TSX, which now has a V6 in it’s second generation to please Americans.

    This will undoubtedly be a good car so how is their any good rationale to completely neuter it?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      But why on Earth would they NOT offer the V6 turbo?
       
      Because it’s not certified for North America.  Remember that these cars are an exercise in cost-amortization first and a real product second: adding anything beyond a waterfall grille is not going to happen.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      @psarhjinian:
      A version of the OPC’s 2.8L turbo V6 is being used in the SRX and Saab 9-3 Aero.
       
      Assuming that Saab is going away, that means GM North America  is going to be using the 2.8L turbo exclusively for the uplevel engine option in a Cadillac CUV.  Plus, with Saturn and Pontiac dead, and the Cruze set to replace the Cobalt,  the 2.0L DI turbo is going to be used exclusively on the Regal come 2011.  That doesn’t seem particularly cost effective.

  • avatar
    Disaster

    If the Malibu had looked like this it would have sold like hotcakes at a charity breakfast.

  • avatar

    Malibu sales aren’t shabby.

    With 255HP AWD will be VERY good to have. The 270HP Altima Coupe I had last week would have benefited greatly from AWD.

    I do wonder about NVH–the 2.0T is quite rorty in the Solstice and Cobalt.

    Has full pricing for the Regal been released? I need to get it in here to see how it stacks up:

    http://www.truedelta.com/prices.php

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    The horsepower differential between the new GS and the standard engine Regal seems about the same as the differential between the supercharged 3.8L and the standard 3.8L of the 1997 W-body Regal.  Seems Buick is attempting to lure back some of those old GS buyers rather than going for the very non-Buick total performance OPC buyer.

  • avatar
    ajla

    From things I’ve read elsewhere, this is just a concept, and a production GS would possibly use the 2.8L turbo or the 3.6L DI.
     
    Of course, because Lutz is involved with showing off this car, who knows what the truth actually is here.
     
    I’m personally going to wait and see what happens with the RWD Cadillac ATS before I get too excited about the Regal.

  • avatar

    Once again, GM continues its old ways and in this case, it’s the time proven adage of how GM offers any new model to the public:
    First year…………..70% right
    Year two……………80 % right
    Third year………….90% right
    Fourth year………..Discontinued.

    I’m NOT even going to get into “It’s not RWD…” rant.  I’ve given up all hope for that.
    What kills me is the quote:
     “…we’re trying to rebuild the performance credentials that Buick once held…”

    Yah! Way to go, guys. A 2.0 4 cyl.  By the time a decent drivetrain makes it into the car will be year 4 and you know what will happen then.  Gawd forbid you start off correctly.

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    I think this is a great looking car.  And i’m fine with the 255 hp turbo 4 with AWD.  After all, they’re trying to keep the Regals all 4 cyl and keep the price down

    • 0 avatar
      bmoredlj

      I agree. This is not meant to be the American version of the VXR/OPC. A car that mad wouldn’t fit in anyway, it would be Buick running before they could walk. I think it’s a good idea to gauge how well a 4-cylinder-only model will sell, and to whom.

  • avatar
    tgriffith

    This article takes a dig at the Regal and GM’s marketing:
    http://www.cargurus.com/blog/2010/01/07/some-going-ga-ga-over-buick’s-regal-gs

  • avatar
    dmrdano

    Often in the projects with which I am involved we see what we call “scope creep.”  We start out with a pretty solid idea of what we want to accomplish.  Then people keep coming up with ideas, most of them good, and they get added because, “It’s just a small improvement.”  The problem is all these small additions create a bloated mess that is no longer really able to meet the original goals. 

    If I were a car company, I would establish a clear goal for each of my base models and then require it to stay pretty close to that plan.  Small 4 cylinder sports sedans would stay just that.  Add some trim options, maybe a turbo.  But stick with one good basic engine that is worth driving and perfect it.  If you want a power car, then assign that goal to one of the other models.  I know people like options, but sometimes it just gets a little carried away and they start blurring over into other models’ “territory.”  I know I will be hammered for this opinion, but at least from a financial standpoint it may be more sustainable.  I am in sales, and I recognize it could make it a little harder to “upsell” which can be very profitable, so no car company is likely to agree with me.

    I once saw a concept Cavelier with a V-8.  Scope creep if I ever saw it.  In fact, it was just plain creepy!

  • avatar
    carguy

    I doubt anyone will miss the Turbo V6. Choosing the i4 makes the vehicle lighter, better balanced and thus probably more fun to drive (if GM doesn’t mess up the setup).
     
    Edward – you’re getting a little ahead of yourself with the “making the base Regal CXL with the 220 hp 2.0T engine a much smarter buy” comment. The GS isn’t even in production and let alone has a price tag for comparison.

  • avatar
    stuki

                    Opel requires some image rebuilding, as well, and having their upmarket car sold for (I presume) quite a lot less, and as a Buick out of all things, in “fat and unsophisticated land”, won’t exactly do tem any favors. High buck Euro brands have a history of detuning / decontenting their high zoot cars just enough for NA, to allow their acutely socially aware target customers to feel justified paying quite an up charge compared to Americans.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Keep in mind that the CXL won’t have the brakes or suspension of the GS.  Most notably missing from the article is the torque this tune provides 295 lb-ft.  If stage kits are offered, and I am not sure they will or won’t be, this could easily be 300 hp and 350 lb-ft like the stage 1 kit in the Cobalt SS.  I am not sure if all of the components would be the same or not, but it is possible.  Besides, there is still room for a GSX.

    EDIT: One last thing to note. I believe the 2.8L turbo is very heavy. I think this Opel OPC version weighs in at about 4300lbs. I don’t know how much weight reduction comes with the 2.0L turbo.

  • avatar
    John R

    That engine can reportedly be tuned to an easy 310 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque…
    Sigh, GM going 80% of they way again.
    I always figured that motor had more potential and I am really perplexed as to why they wouldn’t tune it to produce at least 290hp or there abouts. I can’t imagine it’s for longevity/reliability, STIs and EVOs come from the factory with 290-300 horse motors. I really hope it’s not because they want to keep the CTS safe.
    Figure this thing comes in between $35-40k; why would one purchase this instead of an G37S or G37xS?

  • avatar
    John R

    That engine can reportedly be tuned to an easy 310 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque…
    Sigh, GM going 80% of they way again.
    I always figured that motor had more potential and I am really perplexed as to why they wouldn’t tune it to produce at least 290hp or there abouts. I can’t imagine it’s for longevity/reliability, STIs and EVOs come from the factory with 290-300 horse motors. I really hope it’s not because they want to keep the CTS safe.
    Figure this thing comes in between $35-40k; why would one purchase this instead of an G37S or G37xS?

    • 0 avatar
      Paul W

      That’s exactly what I thought – Americans already have a brilliant alternative to the BMW 3-series – the Infiniti G. Why would anyone rather have a front-wheel drive biased Opel?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      It might come in 35k, but that would be loaded.  It probably has a better back seat than the CTS, but a comparable G37 would be much more expensive.  My guess is that they didn’t tune it to high because they want to keep NVH numbers down.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Saw a Regal (Insignia) wagon testing on Woodward Ave here in Detroit. Can a Regal GS wagon be far behind?

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Sigh. This place can be such a buzz-kill. The base Regal has been almost universally praised, including from some places you wouldn’t expect. This GS sounds like something that could compete against the TSXs and A4s of the world. Why not try evaluating the car on its own merits instead of burdoning it with all the Buick baggage and the worst possible spin you could put on its every existence.

    It was in our lifetimes that Audi’s were boring, Subarus were quirky and Hyundais were cheap Korean crap. It is possible to change a brand image, even for GM. I know it is a bit like Lucy asking Charlie Brown to believe this time, this ONE time, she isn’t going to pull the football away, but since we’re all invested in this one way or another why not try to take things at face value and be proven right or wrong?

    • 0 avatar
      Juniper

      I agree, well said.

    • 0 avatar
      FromBrazil

      I agree, too.

      Saying that, this car doesn’t really rock my boat. As I grow older it seems that all cars are just looking the same. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good professional design, better even than the Opel, but it looks pretty much like any other car out there.

      As to engines, why does one really need more than 250hp in a family car?

  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    Sorry about the triple post, but navigating this site has been quite a “challenge” today!

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    I like the styling, in fact I think it’s somewhat distinctive. I think whether the Regal sells successfully or not is entirely dependent on how it is priced. If it’s close to $30k I don’t think it will sell very well, too many other lower priced choices. If $25k is the volume model’s pricing I think it will be a consideration for a fair amount of potential buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      It will be priced lower than the LaCrosse which starts at 27k.  I don’t know what the volume model pricing will be, but most Buick Enclaves I have seen are nicely equipped.  I haven’t seen too many LaCrosses to know, but the dealer near me seems to only order CXL and CXS versions of the LaCrosse.

    • 0 avatar
      benders

      Like the styling? All I see is a Pontiac G6.

  • avatar

    Its not your fathers Oldsmobile, not your uncles Buick either. Both my eighty-something uncles want a cushy ride and a bench seat in their Buick. Maybe theyll get Saab and other eurocars drivers…but that sabre-tooth look is already a little long, isnt it? FUGM

  • avatar
    boosterseat


    How many mid-size 4 door sedans, from $25-35k, do they plan to have? 2, 3 or 4?

    And, why exactly…?

  • avatar
    Deaks2

    I actually like it. Did anyone see the Insignia OPC/VXR review on Top Gear this week?
    This may be a candidate to replace my 2006 Legacy 2.5GT, the new Legacy is ugly as sin.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Please correct me if I’m wrong. The train of logic at GM went like this.
    1. Buick sells well in China. We’ll keep the brand.
    2. Pontiac doesn’t sell well. Youth-oriented buyers who want a performance car don’t want a Pontiac. So we’ll kill the brand.
    3. Buicks are no longer for old people. We’re going to take out the V8s that old people like, unless they’re cheap and want a V6, replace them with turbo 4s, and then repo$ition the brand so that Youth-oriented buyers who want a performance car will want a car that’s been associated with old people for almost 30 years. Yeah, because every young Audi buyer is okay with a turbo four, even though he aspires for something better in the future.

    4. And while we’re at it, we’ll use Opel products, even though we’ve consistently never been able to consistently sell Opel-based products, even when badged as Opels, Buick-Opels by Isuzu, Cadillac Cateras that Zig, or Saturn Astras.

    Customers who buy premium imports are a different kind of customer than GM dealers are used to serving. They’ll need to retrain a lot of people to make this work.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Rod Panhard:
    1. Buicks are profitable. We’ll keep the brand.
    2. Pontiacs are not profitable. We’ll kill the brand.
    3. We have stringent mpg standards to meet. We will delete gas sucking V8s for fuel efficient turbo 4s.
    4. We will sell Opels as Buicks, and finally be able to command the premium prices that Opels badged as Buick-Opels by Isuzu and Saturn Auras could not.
    We will be successful!

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly what is it about Opel that makes a NA rebadge unsucessful?  The only thing I can think of is that they’ve ended up being underwhelming (Catera), overweight (Catera & Astra), badly contented (Astra again) or just plain wrong for the target audience (Saturn L-Series, because a midsize car with steel body panels and bland styling will win over diehard S-Series fans).  Hopefully the Regal will have more success.

  • avatar

    they have no clue what to do, or even what a Buick is. this is a simple disgrace by the same incompetent management that brought us into bankruptcy. they wiped out the shareholders and bondholders. without the government they would die.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      Buickman – isn’t it in “your” best interest for GM to have Buick to continue making cars that will appeal to your current customers?  But is that in Buicks/GM’s best interest?  That was part of the problem, the UAW was getting paid, the dealers were making money, to them what was wrong with the way GM was doing business?  Nothing.  GM has to make buick appeal to future customers, preferrably one’s that aren’t current GM customers or 80 years old and purchasing thier last car. 

  • avatar
    mjz

    I think the Regal will be very successful for Buick., and will easily sell in the $25-35,000 price category that it would never have commanded if it had been marketed here as the new Saturn Aura (as planned).


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