By on December 9, 2011

Judging from the emails I receive, some of you badly want to love the new 2012 Regal GS. In my review of the Buick Regal 2.0T, I noted that its strengths are “subtle,” and therefore unlikely to inspire love at first sight. The GS adds more aggressive styling, 50 horsepower, Brembo front brakes, an upgraded suspension, and better-bolstered seats. Should you prepare to be smitten?

The exterior tweaks work for me. They lend the Regal a sportier face, without going over the top. The optional dubs—perhaps a bit over the top. Even the standard 19s look a bit too large for the car. Inside…well the interior is pretty much the same, just with larger bolsters on the seats. So the parts look and feel high in quality, and are subtly stylish. But why no tweaks to take the GS up a notch?

A little colored thread could go a long way towards relieving the cabin’s almost overwhelming darkness. While they’re at it, my brain would much more easily process a tach numbered in the thousands to the current one, which is numbered (late model VW style) in the hundreds. The revised front seats do provide more lateral support, but like those in the regular Regal aren’t especially luxurious or comfortable. The rear seat is more cramped than it ought to be given the car’s generous exterior dimensions. The average adult will it, but not very comfortably.

Quite a few people were disappointed upon learning that the Regal GS would be propelled by a 270-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four driving only the front two wheels. In Europe you can buy the closely related Opel Insignia with a 325-horsepower turbocharged V6 and all-wheel-drive. But GM is likely correct that the over $40,000 price the OPC’s powertrain would require would be too high for too many potential North American buyers.

My personal fear: the hi-po 2.0T would sound and feel too much like the raucous earlier incarnation that powered the initially-hot-soon-afterwards-dead Pontiac Solstice GXP and Saturn SKY Redline. Perhaps good for rekindling memories of turbocharged 1980s Regals, but not fitting for a semi-premium brand. I needn’t have worried. If anything the new engine is too smooth and too quiet, revving all the way to its 6,350 rpm fuel cutoff with absolutely no drama and surprisingly little noise. You can cruise down a residential street with the tach needle at 5k and fail to attract a glance. At idle the exhaust is barely audible, above idle there’s just a refined whir. Evidence of the turbo is limited to a faint puff when getting on or off the throttle. There’s no sharp transition as boost builds.

The downside of this unexpected refinement: if I didn’t know better, I’d never have guessed there were anywhere near 270 horsepower under the hood. Could Oshawa have installed the wrong engine? On paper, GM’s latest 3.6-liter V6 isn’t as strong through the midrange, with twenty fewer pound-feet (275 vs. 295) at a much higher peak (4,900 vs. 2,500), but my butt dyno reports otherwise. While the car’s 3,710-pound curb weight doesn’t help, the larger problem is the engine’s flat torque curve and lack of aural feedback: the Regal GS is quicker than it feels. If you must choose, would you rather a car be quick or feel quick?

The shifter for the six-speed manual (the only transmission offered initially) glides smoothly and with a minimum of effort from gear to gear. Though I’d personally prefer more “snick” as each gear is engaged, this is a huge improvement over GM’s past manuals in front-drivers (that in the late, unlamented Pontiac G6 GTP was among the worst I’ve ever experienced).

Even with nearly 300 pound-feet of torque delivered entirely through the front wheels, there’s no evidence of torque steer. Credit GM’s HiPer strut front suspension, where the upper steering pivot moves from the strut mount to a ball joint located outboard of the strut. This yields a more vertical “kingpin” axis about which the wheel and tire revolve as the steering wheel is turned, a reduced offset between this axis and the tire’s contact patch, and a reduced scrub radius (the distance between where this axis hits the road and the tire’s contact patch).

Though this suspension design was first offered in the Buick LaCrosse CXS, the tauter, better damped suspension tuning of the Regal GS much better realizes its potential. Driven aggressively along a curvy road the car feels, if anything, too poised and planted. With the HiPer Struts’ superior geometry keeping the wheels nearly perpendicular to the road surface through much of their travel, the 255/35ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero tires provide a surprising amount of grip given the Regal’s front-heavy weight distribution. On any but the most challenging public roads you’ll remain far from the sticky rim protectors’ limits, and will detect hardly any understeer. Partly because the front tires slip so little in typical driving, and partly because of some side effects of the HiPer Strut suspension geometry, there’s not much in the way of steering feedback. The Regal’s helm is nevertheless reassuringly precise while the chassis exudes the calm competence most often found in the best German sedans. Drama? Not here. A Cadillac CTS Touring Edition or Volvo S60 R-Design (reviews in the near future) feels rambunctious in comparison. Much larger and heavier, as well. The Regal drives smaller and lighter than it actually is. You point, the Regal goes. Just pay attention to the speedometer—it’s likely going much faster than your senses perceive.

The Regal GS has adaptive shocks with three selectable modes as standard equipment. I didn’t notice much difference between the settings aside from a slightly jiggly ride in “GS” mode. But even in that mode the ride is far from harsh—the Regal is one of the best-riding cars I’ve tested in recent memory. Not remotely cushy or floaty, but maintaining an even keel and precise body control over all but the worst pavement. Some cars with premium labels will toss you about and jostle you considerably more.

Load up a Regal GS with all available options, as with the tested car, and the sticker climbs from $35,310 to $38,785 (including $495 for the “white diamond” paint). Too high for a not-quite-midsize Buick? Problem is, if you’re seeking a powerful manual transmission sedan, you don’t have many less expensive options. Make that a single less expensive option, by my quick count: a Subaru Legacy GT runs about $3,400 less. But adjusting for feature differences using TrueDelta’s Car Price Comparison tool cuts this in half—even though the Subaru has all-wheel-drive go for a $1,700 adjustment in its favor. The Buick is a much more solid car with a much higher level of content.

Every other sedan with well over 200 horsepower and a manual transmission costs significantly more. The least expensive roughly equivalent car, the Infiniti G37, lists for over $4,000 more. A 211-horsepower Audi A4 2.0T? About $6,600 more even after a $1,700 adjustment for its all-wheel-drive system (the two are otherwise closely matched in terms of features). Of course, if you want (or at least need) an automatic there are far more less expensive choices, including a couple from Korea.

The major fault with the Regal GS follows from its greatest strength. Some team within GM clearly put a tremendous amount of effort into refining the powertrain and chassis of this car. The end result is smooth and quiet to a fault. Want a car that you can drive quickly with a minimum increase in your pulse? The Regal GS will deliver. But if you’re looking for a car that will elevate your heart rate, you’ll likely be disappointed unless the roads you regularly drive twist and turn like an epileptic snake. Even in GS form the Regal remains a car of subtle strengths.

Tested car provided by Carol Moran-Charron of Art Moran Buick in Southfield, MI. Carol can be reached at 248-353-9000.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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130 Comments on “Review: 2012 Buick Regal GS...”


  • avatar
    cyberc9000

    The G6 GXP never had a manual gearbox. Maybe you’re thinking of the GT Sport? That F40 gearbox *was* atrocious.

    The ultimate testimony to the Regal GS: I’m 25, and I’d buy one.

  • avatar
    shaker

    There *was* a full-zoot G6 available with the 3.9 and manual gearbox, but I can’t remember the model designation. And the manual shifter was universally hated.

    I really like this Regal, but it’s too heavy (bad mileage in hilly terrain), and too expensive, at least for me. But it seems to offer those in the 40-60 demographic a great car for “hustle without tussle”. I think 5-foot tall grandmas won’t like the high beltline, though.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    That’s one nice ride. If I would ever buy a Buick, it had better have an auto transmission, not a stick, and it had better be smooth and quiet, too! That’s what a Buick is SUPPOSED to be, not a Chevelle SS 396 from a long-gone era.

    What I DO expect from a GS is a tighter, a bit more firm suspension and an interior that is a cut above the average Regal.

    I realize I’m in the minority on this, but even tho’ no longer a young man, I’ve always been this way, even 40 years ago when I had my ’64 Impala SS convertible. It was just a 283 2 bbl powerglide and I would have been happy if it were a six cylinder if it meant better mpgs, but that’s how I roll, just a happy cruiser.

    This looks like a great car. Would I buy one? Time will tell. I know one thing – I really like what Buick is doing.

  • avatar
    TheEndlessEnigma

    A pretty neutral review for what sounds like a very good car. I have to, again, wonder how this article would have been written if the nameplate on the car read Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Lexus, Infinity, etc…?

    • 0 avatar
      damikco

      The truth about bashing GM!!!

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      This does seem like a pretty good car – but it also doesn’t sound like anything really stands out in any way. IIRC, the Buick Regal Gran National was described along the lines of “Everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong with American cars of the past 100 years all in one place” by one of the buff books.

      The new Regal will no doubt be much easier to live with, and a much better car all around – but I doubt it will have a following in 25 years like the Gran National does. I expect it will be very good at providing mobility during it’s service life, and run as quietly and efficiently as a good German designed dishwasher.

      Now that Toyota is the new GM, could GM be the new Toyota?

    • 0 avatar
      Bancho

      I read it as a positive review. What I took away from it is that it’s a good performer, but does it in such a way that it won’t offend traditional Buick buyers (if any still live). The comments regarding the cabin are valid could be levied against a lot of German rides.

  • avatar
    John R

    This is a great value compared to an equivalent Audi. Compared G37, however, you get the proper drivetrain, 60 more horses and a more charimatic engine.

    You could argue those things worth the $4k for a BRAND new Infiniti – its tough. Yet for $39k you could have your pick of the litter of 1-year old off-lease G37S’s with less than 5k miles. I’d rather that.

    • 0 avatar
      Flybrian

      You and every younger/middle-aged midlevel manager or female realtor…which is why I’d choose the Regal. I know I won’t see another one every few blocks.

    • 0 avatar

      Infinity G is not as comfortable as Regal (or BMW or CTS for that matter). Real luxury brand must provide comfort along with performance.

      The issue I have with Regal – why they made steering overboosted at low speeds?

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      Don’t make me laugh, plz. Buick simply does not have the brand perception of Audi or Infiniti. Even a Cadillac CTS would have its hands full competing with A4/G37.

      You might as well compare the GS to a Camry V6. The Camry would be just as quick, larger inside, cost $15k less when new, and probably sell for more at the 3 year mark.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Seems a fair review and the price is OK if you don`t need a nav system or sunroof. I agree with the comments about the interior, at least that is something simple that can be fixed for the next model year – just add some different interior colors/stitching. At least it sounds like the basics – handling, ride are well sorted. Will be interesting to see how this sells, especially since the Regal is not doing so well, with sales below 3000 and inventory building up (I am still seeing some Russelheim 2011′s available!)

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Ward’s 10Best engines list too. Nice article as as the GS definitely fills a niche that few can fill: nothing from Toyota or Honda come close but I’m sure the boutique magazines will putthe GS up against the turbo Optima and Sonata.

    http://wardsauto.com/ar/names_best_engines_111208/

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      The same 10Best engines list that has just one conventional V6, and it’s the Pentastar.

      Ward’s is full of it.

      • 0 avatar
        windswords

        The Pentastar is one of the best V6′s out there. It deserves to be on the list. If you want more info go to Allpars page on it:
        http://www.pentastars.com/engines/tech.php

        Just because it doesn’t have DI or some other tech doesn’t mean it’s not a great mill. It was good enough for Mercedes to use at the time they owned them. A 3.2 version is planned as well as single and twin turbo versions (projected hp is 370 and 420 respectively). Future plans may include DI or more likely FIAT’s Mult-air.
        What I like is that it has a timing chain, not a belt.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        The Pentastar is middle of the pack.

        Which is no discredit against an extraordinary field.

        But even limiting the discussion to the other port injection motors – the 2GR, the Ti-VCT Duratec, the VQ – the Pentastar is clearly down on power, paper ratings be damned, and only has a clear NVH win against the VQ.

        You know perfectly well that if there were a box on the Mustang build sheet for the Pentastar nobody would take it. And if there were a box on the Wrangler sheet for the Duratec with 30 more lb-ft down low, everybody would.

        The only V6 I can think of that still uses a belt is Honda’s ancient J series.

  • avatar
    Syke

    And so the nit-picking begins. First, Michael shows a grim determination to not praise too highly. Reading the review a second time, I get the attitude of “it’s a really good car, but don’t expect me to praise it too much – it’s a Buick”. Like TheEndlessEnigma, I also wonder how the review would have read had the badging said Acura TL or TSX, or one of his choices.

    Then, there’s the inevitable comment that a year-old Infiniti would be a better deal. Hmmn, let’s keep apples with apples. New car vs. new car, please. Period. Of course anything minus first-year depreciation is a better buy, in the short run at least.

    And then,the first comments regarding what a Buick is ‘supposed’ to be. Never mind that GM is attempting to give the brand a future by dropping the average ownership age to something under 75. Any thoughts on what a Buick is ‘supposed’ to be are currently out of date. The old Buicks are obsolete and out of production. The new Buicks haven’t been around long enough to start justifying stereotypes.

    • 0 avatar
      Trauto

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      damikco

      plus 1, well said

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Kinda puzzled me too..

      It handles really well, especially for a FWD… but maybe that’s not a good thing.

      It is really quiet and refined and composed… but maybe that’s not a good thing.

      It’s a fast car, but true to its luxury branding, never feels uncivilized… but maybe that’s not a good thing.

      For $37,500 you get it with nav and moonroof… a 6MT G37 starts at 43,800, so it’s 6 grand cheaper… but maybe that’s not a good thing.

      Confusing.

    • 0 avatar
      ccttac

      Amen Well said

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve recently reviewed both the TL and the TSX. So no need to assume what I’d write about them–you can actually read it.

      There is a surprising thin line between “overly refined” and “not refined enough.”

      Everything about the car is very good or better–except that I didn’t find it very exciting to drive. That’s the bottom line. I’ve leveled the same criticism at a number of much more expensive cars in the past.

    • 0 avatar
      JCraig

      Let’s look at some real issues with this car. It’s heavy. There are much less expensive cars with more hp from a 2.0 turbo or V6. I don’t see how the interior puts this a level above a loaded midsize. What are you getting for your extra $10 grand here? Also, GM has a lot of work to do on the details. Why can’t they make a nice instrument cluster? Overall I like this car, it’s better looking than most IMO, just needs to be priced more realistically. Don’t put ‘GS’ on a car w/ less power than a Sonota.

      • 0 avatar

        Compare to the Sonata, everything feels more solid and the chassis is far more competent. The higher price is due to the same things that make an Audi even more expensive. Part of the weight is because Opel over-engineered the car.

        This should not be confused with reliability, though. So far the Regal is worse than average, based on responses to TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey. Hopefully the 2012s will be better.

        http://www.truedelta.com/car-reliability.php

        (BTW, the redesigned site has launched.)

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        I just don’t think of this competing with any true luxury brands. Buick is a nicer Chevy in my mind, so the natrual comparisons go to loaded midsize sedans. Perhaps that perception needs to change but this has none of the appeal of an Audi. That is why the Sonata was the most obvious example to that comes to mind given the engine in the GS. And if this is the performance model it should have 300+ hp.

      • 0 avatar

        Good German cars are heavy for reason, unless you use aluminum. Do not judge German cars against Asian imports by just numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      I didn’t derive any of the negativity you did from this review. I personally believe Mr. Karesh to be one of the most objective reviewers of cars I’ve ever read, and this article is no exception. I’ve driven the regular and 2.0t Regals, and very much enjoyed them. I really like the look of the GS. Doesn’t seem overly styled. I found TTAC’s reviews of the lower-trim Regals to be spot-on.

      I think you guys are being a bit over-reactive on this one. I can’t speak for the GS, but the Regal as a line-up really is as drama-free as has been written. It might be a good thing, it might be a bad thing, depends on the driver/buyer, but it certainly isn’t a car that screams anything at you. I personally really like that (I’m 25 and would buy one of these in a heartbeat, despite the transmission stumbles I’ve experienced in multiple Regal Turbos; but then again I grew up wanting a Park Avenue Ultra for the sleeper-ness of it). Karesh didn’t draw these conclusions in the article, however – he simply stated facts which I know to be true of the Regal from real-world experience.

      So, basically, drive one and see if it works for you. If so, buy it! And cross your fingers about the reliability…

      • 0 avatar
        tallnikita

        Park Avenue – that’s the one I keep on coming back to in my head. I think it’s the only Buick I’ve been in and I still remember that luxurious interior and quiet ride. So this Regal evokes same feelings and has a kickass suspension. Great! Interesting mention of Chevy’s new suspension at work.

    • 0 avatar
      Lokki

      Congratulations to GM and Buick for making a Buick that I’ll seriously consider as a potential replacement for my 3-series. I think that this car nails what a Buick is supposed to be:

      Fast, elegant, quiet, comfortable.

      For those of you who don’t this as a brand image for Buick – what image DO you want? “Better than a Sonata”?

      However I must confess that despite Buick’s historically good quality record, I’m going to wait 3 years or so before I’ll buy one. GM just has had too many great-till-the-ugly-surprise-reveals-itself cars.

      Still, this car shows great potential.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        @Lokki, the brand image I would prefer for Buick is the one this Regal conveys, I saw it on a t-shirt once that featured a GNX with the writing “GO FAST WITH CLASS.” That would be a better tagline for Buick than the current one.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I have to say Buick is headed in the right direction. Average buyer’s age must be dropping pretty fast. Makes you wonder what the Next Geriatric Automobile will be. I’ll venture to say Lexus for those with money, Avalon for those with less….Keep it up Buick. Now make sure the components are designed for the long haul…no new door handles at 13 years old, no worn out window regulators…

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      – Syke: “let’s keep apples with apples. New car vs. new car, please.”

      Totally agree. Any and all comparison between a new car and an old car is worthless.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Sigh…

    This was at the top of my list when I was car shopping earlier this year… but I knew it would cost near 40k and that was 10k above my budget. And I could not keep waiting for it to show up in the fall, since the Mazda was tugging heavily at the strings of my sanity.

    I don’t regret what I did get, but I still have a place in my heart for the GS.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    It’s a big turn of events for Buick and I applaud their effort. Sure it’s quiet and subtle at 5,000 RPM, is supposed to be, it’s a Buick not a Chevy.

    The demographic that they are aiming for would probably prefer an automatic transmission though I’m in that demographic and I like manual transmissions; they are, however, getting harder to find (at least in the U.S.)

    I’m not much on the “dimples” in the front bumper and don’t care for hotwheel sized rims on anything. And of course there is the weight issue, it’s too heavy, period. Price seems stiff too, but Michael’s price comparison methodology indicates maybe not. (I haven’t bought a new car in so many years that I’m just out of touch and 38 large seems huge to me.)

    Sounds like a great start for Buick back into the world of what should carry the “GS” nomenclature.

    • 0 avatar
      RobAllen

      At 32, I’m in that demographic as well and also prefer a manual over an automatic in a sporty sedan. Lets face it, that’s what they tried to build here. So the fact the sound is uninspiring even at 5k rpm is a slight detriment. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know that I am ready to contemplate a sporty, fun to drive, four-door Buick and more “feels quick” would have gone a long way to make a case for it.

      I would err on the side of the Subaru Legacy GT in the new vs. new contention if they hadn’t gotten so fat and lethargic (my 08 LGT was a blast to drive). In a new vs. anything else, you are in striking distance of an off-lease G37, A4, 335i and a host of others that add more inspiration.

  • avatar
    Hank

    “…unless the roads you regularly drive twist and turn like an epileptic snake.”

    That’s *exactly* where I live! And, I enjoy a quiet refined, sleeper that can scoot.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Thanks for the review. You make it sound more like a boring Lexus for being too smooth and composed. I wish it weighed less but then I think all cars are 500lbs too heavy. Still I’ll keep it on my list to replace my A3 in about 2 years.

  • avatar
    cc-rider

    I am wondering where Buick hid the windows on this car. It has got to have crap outward visibility. The car looks like 95% sheetmetal and 5% windows.

  • avatar
    alluster

    The car is stunning especially in red. By far the best looking sedan in its class.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-9J5w46-vJE0/TjvMxewn9lI/AAAAAAAAKD0/BzAbJnlb8p8/s1600/Regal+GS+red.jpg

    I wish this was the new Malibu though, which is not a bad car by itself. I love the regal gs ad where the wife takes out her husbands car for a joy ride to get groceries.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Before the Michael bashing gets too far out of hand, I feel I should rise to his defense. He’s been one of the most consistent and impartial reviewers on this site. I’ve seen Michael’s posts on other boards (including GMInsideNews), and they’ve all been pretty fair. Not a guy who’s inclined to snarkiness and false criticism.

    It may just be that the Regal didn’t impress him much. To be fair it’s his opinion and that’s what we’ve come here to see. We don’t have to necessarily agree with it. But, he’s been impartial in the past, long before GM started to improve it’s product portfolio.

    Beyond that, he gives us a lot of good info, and if I had the bux, regardless of this review, I might buy this car. As I get older, I like the idea of a quiet, fast car that flies below the radar. Maybe that’s not his cup of meat, but would suit me just fine…

    • 0 avatar
      JCraig

      I agree it seems like people are too quick to call out ‘GM Bashing’. This is a sport model so there absolutely is something behind being too refined, quiet and composed. He said would you rather your car feel fast or be fast. Well I’d rather it feel fast. If this car already has a hp disadvantage it should at least have a little excitement. As you said this is an opinion, none of us would agree on the best car on the market right now.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        +1 – Michael’s reviews always strike me as honest and informative. He doesn`t seem to have an agenda, or at least hides it better than most.
        I see his point about wanting the GS to be more “sporty”. It is a shame that even in GS mode on the suspension selector they didn`t let their hair down a little. They obviously wanted to be perceived as Audi, Lexus like in refinement and sterility of experience. That seems to be where the market is going (for good or for bad).

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Geo, I have to bust your balls…”cup of Meat”…I nearly choked!!! But I agree with you here 100%

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @golden: Not a fan of Bob Dylan? It’s a phrase from the Mighty Quinn. I’ve always liked it. Besides, I can see who’s paying attention to what I’m saying/writing…

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    This seems to be the sort of car that is happiest wafting down the autobahn at 200 kph. Shuffling along cratered American roads at 70 mph, not so much.

  • avatar

    A new Saab 9-5 is a much better value for luxury and performance at their transaction prices than this car. It handles just a well, rides better (on 18s anyway), has the potent turbocharged V6 with AWD and the best seats in any car at any price that I have felt. I just picked up a brand new one for 32k and am highly impressed with everything about it. I am a Buick guy at heart but the lack of V6 and AWD that it’s Saab and Opel siblings have really turned me off.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      You did well because the cheapest 9-5 I can find is near $38K on truecar. At least the service department ta my local Buick dealer will still be around in 2012 unlike the Saab dealer. I would expect the Saab to be better since in Europe Saab was meant to be above Opel/Vauxhall which is the donor car for Buick.

      • 0 avatar
        saab_lurker

        The worries about Saab’s future are what’s killing sales of the 9-5. It really is the best Saab ever made – even if it has a ton of GM in it.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        mike978: “At least the service department ta my local Buick dealer will still be around in 2012 unlike the Saab dealer.”

        If that’s your arguement, you might as well stay with Toyota, instead of Buick. In the past 20 years, GM has cut Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Saturn. Buick could easily be cut or become a China only brand.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        wsn – thanks for your insightful commentary, as always! I did say 2012 and I am pretty sure Buick will be around the next 12 months! On a more serious note, even if Buick the brand disappeared from the US (no reason as yet since they have double digit year on year growth) you could get the car serviced at a Chevy or Cadillac dealer. Oldsmobiles didn`t suddenly stop getting serviced 10 years ago and many are still running.

        Maybe you should wonder about buying an Acura, I would suspect they will be more likely to leave.

    • 0 avatar

      A few years ago, 2 liter I-4s, turbochargers, six-speeds were pretty much Saabs domain. Now it appears that Buick is the new GM “Saab” here. Dont know about the rest of the world.

      But that Buick “mug” only new GM could love. Saab will be missed.

    • 0 avatar
      tallnikita

      Sukker! Hey wanna buy Brooklyn Bridge? Good luck with that warranty work.

  • avatar
    lubbock57

    There’s a lot to like about this car but when I look at those seats and see the wrinkled leather…..sorry but you’d never see that on an Acura, Audi, etc……no deal for me.

    • 0 avatar
      JCraig

      Yeah I noticed that too. Details details…

      • 0 avatar

        I actually took a close up shot of the leather on the passenger seat–it was very badly done. If I was trying to bash this car like some here seem to assume, I would have led the review with that photo.

        As it is, I don’t feel I’m bashing the car at all. I’ve laid out two potential buyers for the car, saying that one would like it a lot while the other would likely be disappointed.

      • 0 avatar
        lubbock57

        I didn’t think you were bashing the car in the least.

        My feeling is…..if GM lets such an obvious looking flaw out their door like those seats, then what else is there that you can’t see???? Really shameful quality control….really low standards.

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        That’s what they (GM) don’t seem to get about building a luxury vehicle. I would not feel good glancing over to that seat while sitting at a red light. It’d drive me nuts.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I’d suggest looking up Michael’s review of an Acura here on TTAC. The fit of the door to dash was reminiscent of GM 1975…so it seem many automakers have some distance to go….

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        I’m one of those middle-aged buyers who goes for cush with his sport sedan performance. I test drove a base Regal Turbo, and I really liked its styling inside and out, the quality of interior materials (about which I am VERY picky), and the ride/handling balance, which I thought was world-class. The only two things that put me off are the poorly shaped driver’s seat and the lingering questions about GM’s long-term quality based on their history of squeezing suppliers and settling for subpar components in return.

        To me, both questions remain with this upgrade, though it is an upgrade. I’m still seeing brand new GMs rolling down the road with lights already burned out, always the telltale sign to me of substandard components that GM, Chrysler and VW have habitually used. The flawed leather seat cover in this test car underscores that concern.

  • avatar
    Wolf

    “In Europe you can buy the closely related Opel Insignia with a 325-horsepower turbocharged V6 and all-wheel-drive. But GM is likely correct that the over $40,000 price the OPC’s powertrain would require would be too high for too many potential North American buyers.”

    Yep. In France the OPC retails for 60.000$
    Closest competitor would be the S4 Avant, at 80.000$

    It’s a shame you don’t get the AWD as an option, the engine would have enough torque to propel it flawlessly

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I drove a preproduction example of the Regal GS 6MT at a comparison event recently, and came away with very similar opinions to Michael. I think it is fair in all of this to mention that there is an aftermarket tune available from the dealer that does NOT void your warranty (took a page right out of the BMW/Dinan playbook, I’d say!), and really changes the character of the car. A close friend of mine owns a Regal “t” and says it is a night and day difference.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting on the tune, but is it for the 270hp engine, or only the 220hp 2.0T, bringing it closer to the GS engine?

      • 0 avatar
        protomech

        It may be an evolution of the tune available for the earlier 2.0T ecotec in the solstice / sky turbos.

        http://www.gmpartshouse.com/19212670-lnf-turbo-upgrade-kit.php

        260 hp / 260 ft-lb => 290 hp / 340 ft-lb

      • 0 avatar
        cognoscenti

        protomech has the right idea. On my friend’s car, it is the standard 2.0T – but word is that GM will also have a tune for the GS. Here’s one source, Bill Duncan, GM HPVO Engineer, answering a related question on another forum:

        Q: “…can we expect to see the LNF to carry on in future cars like the new Buick Regal? I for one would love to see a de-tuned LNF make it into the Aveo with the appearance kit on the Aveo RS.”

        A: “The 2.0L Turbo engine like the LNF has been announced and shown in several show cars including the recently introduced Buick Regal GS.”

  • avatar
    klossfam

    Ultimately, if I’m ‘stuck’ with needing to purchase a 200hp FWD sports sedan, there are far too many other choices that are as good or better for far less:

    1. The new 2012 VW GLI – only $27,500 real world with nav etc, etc – only 200 hp but a true 200 hp based on dyno tests. Far cooler vehicle and saving almost $8,000 in REAL dollars.

    2. Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T or Kia Optima SX 2.0T – No less ‘cache’ than the Buick in the real world and much more rear seat room, better warranty, etc.

    In reality – I’d buy a A4 or G37 anyways if needing to cross into $35K plus territory. Even my 2008 G35xS with all options but nav was only $35.5K or so net/net a couple years back.

    • 0 avatar
      dmw

      Yes a GLI if you need the stick, but is more like a VW CC or a Maxima than an Audi or an Infiiniti. You can max out a 2.0T CC for 38K. And the seat of the pants impression on power likely reflects 1. overstated numbers 2. the absurd curb weight or both. I don’t buy the line that it is overweight because it is “overengineered.” Better engineering reduces weight. This car is just old, and a newer design and newer materials would reduce the mass. Also, getting rid of the dubs will help.

      Karesh’s post-script comments about the upholstery quality is kind of bad news. People actually cross shopping an Audi and the like are going to fly-speck the interior especially.

      • 0 avatar
        klossfam

        True, the GLI is 7″ shorter and 3″ narrower than the Regal…The CC is a better comparo…and another FWD I’d take over the Regal in a heartbeat…The CC is much nicer in terms of interior quality as well (I like the CC interior better than the A4 or A6, actually).

        The ergos and driving position in a Sonata are excellent although even in a high line SE turbo, you feel like you are sitting ON the seats rather than in them…Hyundai also has some chassis tuning to do on ALL their vehicles. I know Hyundai/Kia won’t compete with the VWs or Regal in this regard.

    • 0 avatar

      It is made by union workers – what do you expect.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    The LNF 2.0 in the Sky/Solstice went from something like 260HP/260trq then GM offered GMPP kit output went to 290HP/325trq.

    So yes “Fast with Class” potential is still there.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    And this car will be available CPO in 3 years at… (who wants to open the bidding?) BTW the only reason I care is that I might be able to talk my soon to be bride into one after the depreciation stick hits it. She love’s Buicks and is friends with the family that owns the local franchise.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “She loves Buicks and is friends with the family that owns the local franchise.”

      No Ford Flex in your future? Oh-oh!

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Zachman, ya got to build up to it… besides we don’t have the 6 kids to fill the sucker yet! I know from your personal vehicle history you never drove more car than you had to. (Something I would argue is true to this day.)

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I don’t think it was a negative review or biased one per se. It accurately described the cars strengths (its a great performer) and its weakness (its not a whole lot of fun using that performance. Here’s where hp isn’t everything. An e90 (not sure what the F30 pricing will be) 328i is priced relatively closely to this (not sure how the features compare) and it has right instead of wrong wheel drive. Same goes for a stick shift Lexus IS250. Less power in both? Yes, but I imagine much more fun. It sounds as though GM designed the car to match the Germans (or Japanese) in theory but missed the boat on the execution. The G37 would easily seem to be worth the extra $ new or just get one CPO for the same price.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Nice work Michael. It seem that the character of this car may be better suited to a quick shifting automatic than a manual. After all, effortless speed needs an effortless transmission.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    How would you compare this car to the Maxima? Given that it’s FWD and similarly stylish, I think it’s a more apt competitor than the G37.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The magazines that have done instrumented tests on this GS have concluded that it doesn’t feel quick because it isn’t quick. It is about a second slower to 60 than the various Japanese V6 family sedans, and not as efficient. They have back seats for grown ups too.

    • 0 avatar

      Just checked C&D. They got one to 60 in 6.2, which is far from sluggish. “Street start” of 7.0, though, which is more indicative of how quick a car feels. Sounds like the sticky tires permit a very aggressive launch.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        6.2 seconds is on parity with a V6 Honda Accord, faster than the Sonata or Kia 2.0 turbo 4 (better comparison) about 3/10 off the pace of the Camry, and 4/10 on the $34K Passat VR6 SEL

        http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1112_2011_hyundai_sonata_se_vs_2012_toyota_camry_se_vs_2012_volkswagen_passat_vr6_sel_comparison/viewall.html

        Six-point-two is the neighborhood of V6 sedans and it is faster than other turbo fours.

  • avatar
    IronEagle

    Got an awesome deal on a 2011 T02 package Regal Turbo. They had $5,000 on the hood for lease deals so we’re driving one for $269 a month for 3 years. That is less than we could lease a 4 cylinder Malibu for. This for a Buick with heated leather seats, sunroof, etc.

    It is a brilliant car. Very comfortable and handles great. Ours was built in Russelsheim. It is so fun to drive. I don’t think Buick should have changed the front end it was fine before.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    255-35-20? Really? Is this another styling side effect of pedestrian crash test standards (higher belt line leading to higher wheel arches leading to larger wheels needed to fill the space)?

    I think road conditions in just about every US population center make wheels larger than 18″ inappropriate on any volume car. It may even hurt customer perception of the car in the long run. Most potential buyers probably think giant wheels look great in the showroom, but have no idea what they are in for at tire replacement time or when they inevitably bend a wheel. Now all of a sudden they consider the car high maintenance.

    What kind of gas mileage is the Regal GS getting? I know the car is on the expensive side, but I think efficiency still matters in this class.

  • avatar
    IronEagle

    Buick put the Opel Insignia Diesel sound deadening package on the Regal. So that explains why you can hardly hear the turbo working unless you have the windows down.

    Averaged 33 mpg at 70-80mph on flat Florida interstates. 26-27mpg on the hilly Georgia Hwy 75.

    Haven’t had any warranty issues but I have to get it to the dealer it has an oil leak with under 6,000 miles.

    Also the Regal T is the better value than the GS for now with all the money they stack on the hood for the T. You can get a $500 tune from Trifecta Tuning who put their 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo on the dyno and picked up a whopping 61 horsepower and 51 lb-ft of torque at the wheels with premium gas. Even more with E85 which is over 100 octane. They can also set it to turn the high po tune on/off with the cruise control switch and get rid of torque management. Others are finding the stock intercooler piping is about 50% smaller than the Cobalt/HHR SS piping so expect kits to correct this. Also the downpipe is very restrictive as there is a cat. converter and some sort of steel mesh brillo pad material in it. More power to you if you want to risk putting that much power to the Chinese made 6 speed automatic. On paper they say it has a torque rating of 325 lb-ft. I’ll stick with my 95 Talon TSi AWD for hot rodding but a Regal Turbo with 350+ bhp would be so fun.

  • avatar
    ekaftan

    Why do they have to use that HIDEOUS plastic engine cover that looks like its mounted longitudinally?

  • avatar
    JMII

    I think this is best car GM is making right now. Most likely because its an euro import. It looks really good, has enough power and space plus gets decent mileage. Even the interior looks decent, but some contrasting colors would help. Unfortunately its sold under the Buick name plate which hurts its brand recognition with younger buyers.

  • avatar
    ajla

    So it sounds like I’d need an aftermarket exhaust, BOV, and intake.

    Someone also needs to figure out a way to make the IP turn red like on the Insignia VXR.
    ____________
    Or, they could just give us the VXR.

  • avatar
    BigDuke6

    35 series tires on 20 inch wheels….? Unless you’re riding on billiard table smooth roads, those rims will be toast before long. We don’t have those in Ontario. 45 series is the absolute lowest I would go. Other than that, I like the direction Buick is going in. I’ve driven plenty of Buicks. My Dad has been a Buick man all his life.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    My question to you is this, do you think enough people will be impressed by the car to make it a sales success. Or is it just another of a long line of interesting but ultimately sales failures of GM.

    I want to like this car, but I also want a car that gets my blood moving at least a little bit. I’m not sure this car does it, but it checks most of the boxes I want.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think the GS will be a large percentage of sales. But I think the Regal at least deserves to see its sales grow as some people buy the car then tell their friends how much they like it. Not a near-term success, but a long-term success unless GM pulls the plug too quickly (which they’ve done many times in the past).

  • avatar
    Joss

    Not your blue rinse & white pearls Buick then – where are the portholes? But wait, are those old age wrinkles on the passenger seat bolster? Is it American iron or Chinese cuisine on the teutonic menu?

  • avatar
    A D H

    Is this engine a variation of Saabs 2.0T? Description of 5k rpm without noticing sounds familiar.

    I liken this to a MazdaSpeed6. Maybe not quite the BMW/Audi level, but can be picked up and owned for cheaper. Is there an Opel equivalent for suspension reliability/durability comparison? And a car, that, I think I would enjoy driving for 3-4 years.

    Nobody has mention, but that contoured back seat looks a pain in the ass for car seats.

    I would also like to see one without the chrome wheels. Or with the 19s.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    Looks like the nearly perfect sporting Buick to me. The flaw IMO ? Small greenhouse. But that would not stop me buying unless the headroom or visibility was lacking. And most cars have the same (minor) flaw these days. Conclusion ? I really like the car, and I am a Regal owner, so maybe my opinion matters. Props to Buick.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    It sounds like a perfect car for autoba…ehh relaxed high speed driving.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    A like-able enough but flawed entry. The over-sized tires and wheels look gangsta and silly. The belt line is typically too high. The interior is too drab and lacking in color. A small displacement 2.0 turbo that is able to impersonate a V6 in the power and refinement is one thing. But to also mimic a V6′s fuel economy with greater complexity, oil change needs and care raises the question why this engine is even being used in this car. The fact that it will be offered in stick only will limit sales to maybe a few hundred examples annually. In the end this car still really isn’t a Buick in my eyes but a Saturn Aura in Buick drag with Saab engine think or it would take a lot of changes on this vehicle before I would plunk down nearly 39 large for one. And watch out for those pesky Pentestar Chrysler 200/Dodge Avengers and 302 HP Impalas in a drag race because you will lose every time in this car.

  • avatar
    alluster

    The Regal in general has a lot of potential. It should be generating most of the Volume in the premium segment for GM and not be outsold by more expensive cars like the Lacrosse and CTS. The Regal will most likely have organic growth, steady and consistent unlike the Lacrosse that shot up the sales charts.

    It is stupid of GM to pit this against cars like the IS, ES, TL and TSX. They are not high volume by any means and the Regal already handily outsells them within a year of launch. The Regal outsells the IS, TL and TSX by 25% and is even with the G Sedan. GM needs to market this heavily against higher volume models like the 3 Series and C Class. Most people who by BMW’s and C Classes don’t care or know which wheels propel the car, how much horsepower its got. They buy these cars to let other people know they have money and can afford more expensive cars. The Regal is faster, longer, cheaper, wider, taller, and more fuel efficient than the 3 Series, And you know the most important reason to buy one….you don’t want to be like your co-worker or neighbor. The biggest problem for me about the 3 series is that, half the cars in the office parking lot are BMW’s. I don’t want to me one of them. If GM marketed it like they did with Lexus ES and Lacrosse, they will have a new segment leader. Most people are too stupid to breathe on their own when it comes to cars, GM needs to tell them why they are better off buying a Regal.

    The same can be said of the Verano. A comparatively equipped Verano is $6000 cheaper, taller, longer, wider, quieter, roomier, much more FUEL EFFICIENT and comfortable than the 3 series. Of course the Verano is FWD and doesn’t have BMW’s driving dynamics, however most people who buy the 3 Series don’t know what that means anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      “The Regal is faster, longer, cheaper, wider, taller, and more fuel efficient than the 3 Series”

      A Camry V6 is faster, longer, cheaper, wider, taller, and more fuel efficient than the Regal.

      • 0 avatar
        FatherDeth13

        And a Camry is what, Vanilla to say the least? And a V6 better outrun the Regal’s turbo 4. Lets face it, not everyone is into straight line speed. The Regal decimates the Camry in the handling department. And the Regal is much nicer to look at.

  • avatar
    FatherDeth13

    I just picked my GS up from the dealer last Saturday, December 10, 2011. I’m 34 years old and when I first saw the concept car, I fell in love with it. Mainly due to the fact that I knew it would be a beast that not a lot of people around my age would consider (Now I know it really is a mild mannered speedster and not so much a beast). I like having “different” cars. So, here’s my story. I recently sold my heavily modified 2005 MINI Cooper S to get the GS. I placed an order back in October and now she is in my possesion finally. Well, everything most of the media has said is true. For one, you never really notice that you are actually flying in this car. There is no heavy exhuast noet, no turbo whoosh!! Let’s talk about lag. This car does suffer from turbo lag, and I’m not quite sure if it was done on purpose or not. It starts off nice and then just bursts into turbo but in a really refined way, escalating way. It never jerks, it’s all fluid like. It just does the job for now I guess. It really is a nice looking car in and out, and I’m sure it will only get better. The thing is, I’m concerned with how the GS will sell. Is this car going to be discontinued quickly. My Pros: Nice looking (aggressive yet subtle), tech savvy (great in car entertainment and Onstar is awesome!!!), refined engine with some umph!! My Cons: Concentrates more on luxury than performance (GM seems to be hyping up the performance aspects, but what we really get are heated seats and leather instead of an aggressive exhaust tone and turbo noise), turbo lag, Needs a normal mode, touring mode, and Gran Sport mode (doesn’t really need two sport modes). Now, also since I’m still in the break in period, I’m taking it easy. I haven’t tried any standing still starts are aggressive runs. I still really don’t know what this car is capable of yet. Once I do, I’ll post my results.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Did you test drive it before ordering it? If not that is taking quite a risk.

    • 0 avatar
      alluster

      +1. GM is def. hyping the Regal as an uber performance sedan. The GS and Regal Turbo have racy ads with aggressive exhaust tones make them seem like fast and exciting cars. I too wish it was more performance and less luxury. The lowly impala has north of 300 HP and does 0-60 in about the same time. I am wondering why they didn’t throw the 3.6 in this car, though 270 HP out of 2 liters is pretty impressive. Being the only performance car in the entire Buick lineup, i doubt the GS is ever going to be discontinued given that it is trouncing its competitors in sales. This is more of a halo car for Buick and is about changing perceptions about the brand. Its all gonna come down to marketing and I think Buick is doing a pretty good job about it. Buick is going places and the Regal is going to be a factor. Sales will pick up once the e-assist regal is out. Nevertheless, it is a real great car and congratulations on your purchase.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    The latest installment in the “higher-beltline, disappearing-window-glass” saga. Why not just get rid of glass all together and put cameras all around? It looks like a white coffin on wheels. I’ll pass.

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      …….”cameras all around’……shh!, don’t give them ideas, with the ridiculously low prices of electronics these days, cameras are probably cheaper than windows…..probably lighter, more aerodynamic, and safer too……imagine driving around in a little padded room with a few monitors, doesn’t sound like much fun to me, either. I’ll quit driving when they get to the gunslit stage.

    • 0 avatar
      FatherDeth13

      How do you figure? Let me guess, you must drive a Toyota or honda?

  • avatar
    alluster

    I was checking out specs on buick.com and surprised to see the GS rated at 20/32 city/highway, higher than the 220 HP turbo (18/29) and the 180 HP ecoboost (19/31). Can someone tell me how that’s possible? Another case of EPA taking the manufacturers word for it?

  • avatar
    ALLBRIGH

    OK, I was at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival on Sunday, 2-26-12. The Buick representative SWORE to me that the Regal GS on display was AWD. I told him that I was at the International Auto Show in Boston last month, and the Buick rep. told me that the Regal GS was NOT available with AWD. Who is right??


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