The Truth About Cars » Opel Insignia The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 01:30:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Opel Insignia Review: 2014 Buick Regal GS AWD (With Video) Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:00:11 +0000 2014 Buick Regal GS AWD Exterior

In my mind, Volkswagens used to be the “Euro Buick.” Positioned one note above the mass market rabble,  VW’s Passat shared parts with Audi’s A4, while the Touareg and Phaeton were luxury cars with a mass market logo on the hood. Then Volkswagen decided this was the wrong strategy for them, so they repositioned VW as the German alternative to Toyota and Chevrolet. This left a gaping hole in the market for shoppers looking to step into a European near-luxury vehicle that flew under the radar. And then Buick stepped in.Buick’s Opel-based product offensive has transformed the brand from Barcalounger wheels for the octogenarian, to a window into the soul of GM’s German brand. This transformation isn’t an easy one as Buick’s problem wasn’t just blue-haired buyers and slinky-soft springs. Buick is the penultimate middle child. Jammed between Chevrolet and Cadillac, brand B’s mission is to give Chevy buyers something to aspire to and Cadillac buyers something to graduate from.

Click here to view the embedded video.


When you say “Regal GS” my mind immediately leaps to the fourth-generation Regal (2nd generation W-body) with the supercharged 3.8L V6. When I was car shopping in 2000 I dearly wanted a Regal GS but there were two problems: Buick’s grandmotherly image and the price tag. As a result I bought an entirely different old person car: a Chrysler LHS. But I digress. This GS is an entirely different beast. Buick’s latest middle child is none other than Opel’s largest sedan, the Insignia. Refreshed for the 2014 model year, the differences between the Insignia and the Regal are most pronounced on the exterior where a Buick waterfall grille and logo have been inserted into the same opening as the Opel and ventiports have been added to the hood. And… that’s about it.

Two things are obvious when looking at the Buick Regal: it was designed in Europe and it was designed to to be both a Buick and an Opel from the start. Rather than looking out of place (like the Chrysler 300 to Lancia Thema transition) the Regal looks “meant to be.” Although the Regal is related to the Chevy Malibu, there’s essentially no exterior resemblance. The Regal GS I spent a week in gets the tweaked front and rear bumpers from Opel’s Insigia OPC model which ditches the foglamps for extra ventilation and integrates the exhaust tips into the rear bumper cover. Circling back around to those ventiports: I still think they look silly, but thankfully the Regal has the right number (four) and they are smaller and less conspicuously placed than on other Buick models I could mention.

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD Interior-003


2014 brings a new interior to the Regal based around a standard 8-inch touchscreen and new center console. Although you will still find a few hard plastics in the cabin, overall materials quality has improved and is firmly competitive with the Volkswagen CC, Audi A4 and Acura TL. Most cabin touch points feel more premium than the more expensive Lexus ES but the Volvo S60/S80 still lead the segment. Non-GS shoppers can opt for a handsome two-tone interior that combines a brown steering wheel and upper dash with a light grey/tan seats and carpet which would be my preference. GS models however are stuck with a very Germanic black-on-black theme. Part of the GS package is an 8-inch LCD instrument cluster and a chunkier steering wheel with sport grips, soft leather and a flat bottom. The disco dash is not as configurable as Chrysler’s 7-inch unit but the graphics are more modern and the system allows you full access to your media device, something uConnect still lacks.

For reasons unknown Buick chose not to borrow the Recaro seats found in the Insignia OPC, opting instead for more aggressively bolstered versions of the standard seat design. This may be because Buick owners are less likely to need the 5-point harness design, but it is most likely because we Americans are fatter so fewer of us would fit in the narrow seats. My 6-foot and slightly overweight frame fit snugly and comfortably in the front seats but the ceiling in the rear of the Regal proved too low for me to sit without cocking my head to the side. The lack of rear seat headroom was disappointing because the Regal offers several inches more rear leg room than the RWD Cadillac ATS and CTS and three inches more than the Volvo S60 and S80.

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD Buick Link


Like the LaCrosse, the Regal and the Opel Insignia now uses a modified version of Cadillac’s CUE. For reasons I don’t understand however, Buick doesn’t get Opel’s interesting touchpad with “finger writing” recognition that Opel has been advertising across the pond. I’m guessing this is so that Buick doesn’t step on Cadillac’s toes. Compared to CUE there are a few other changes for Buick-duty. The expensive glass capacitive touchscreen (looks like a modern smartphone) is swapped for a resistive unit that isn’t as crisp or as glare reducing and we have physical buttons for some system features, a marked improvement over Cadillac’s touchscreen only interface. Aside from these charges, the majority of CUE remains.

Like Ford’s MyFord Touch system, IntelliLink is sluggish in general and sometimes totally unresponsive. The software also suffers from unintuitive menu layouts and old-school mapping software that doesn’t jive with the system’s high-resolution screen. Like CUE, some multi-touch gestures are supported, but the different touchscreen is less able to decipher your intent leading to some frustrating moments. On the bright side, CUE’s selling points remain. The system’s voice command system features natural language commands and instead of treating the USB ports as separate inputs, the system aggregates them into one large music library allowing you to voice command songs without specifying the device.

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD Engine 2.0L Turbo-001


Nestled sideways under the hood is the same 2.0L direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine that the Cadillac ATS and CTS use. Good for 259 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of twist, this is the same engine that you find in the “regular Regal.” That’s right, no longer does “GS” stand for “more power.” This means the GS looses 11 ponies vs 2013 but the turbo Regal gains 39 vs 2013. To differentiate things, GM does alter the torque curve to deliver all 295 twists at 2,500 RPM instead of 3,000 in the non-GS model. GM hasn’t completely ruled out the 325 horse 2.8L twin-turbo V6 the Insignia OPC uses for the American market, but I’d call it a long shot.

GS shoppers can choose either a 6-speed manual transaxle or a 6 speed automatic, but if you want the optional Haldex AWD system you’re forced to select the auto.  Although the GS uses the same AWD system as the regular Regal AWD, the engineers tossed in an electronically controlled limited slip rear differential. GS trims also bump the suspension up a notch by combining GM’s HiPer Strut technology with active dampers on all four corners. The suspension offers three modes: normal, sport and GS. The feel ranges from European family sedan to firm.

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD Gauges-001


GM’s HiPer Strut suspension is designed to bring the steering axis more in line with the tire centerline, something you typically find in rear-wheel drive cars. Aligning the axis more closely results in better tracking, less torque steer and a front tire with a more consistent camber across the suspension’s travel. Versus the outgoing model, the front tires contact patch is improved in corners when the front suspension is loaded resulting in higher grip. Coupled with an AWD system that sends 50% of the power to the rear under hard acceleration, we get the first Buick in a long time with virtually zero torque steer.

The downside to the trendy new steering knuckle design is feel. Steering is very precise but suffers from the same Novocaine-laced feedback as everything else out there with electric power steering. Despite a 58/42 F/R weight distribution, the Regal GS has impeccable manners up to 9/10ths, where it starts to lose composure. Trouble is, without steering feedback it’s hard to tell where 9/10ths is located. In contrast, the Volvo S60 T6 AWD and S80 T6 AWD offer less grip but more feel.

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD Exterior-007

Driving a FWD Regal back to back with our AWD tester, I kept thinking “there’s just something I dislike about the FWD model”. As it turns out, there is a reason the FWD Regal felt unsettled in the rear over broken pavement, the AWD model gets an entirely different “H-Link” independent rear suspension. Coupled with the active dampers, the Regal felt well composed on a variety of road surfaces despite being tuned firmer than the rest of the American and Swedish competition. Rather than being the softest entry in the segment, the GS is among the firmer.

Put your foot to the floor and the GS will run to 60 in 6.7 seconds, exactly the same as the W-Body Regal GS I remember with fond memories. The difference is, the W-Body’s torque steer made the car feel like it was part car, part carnival ride. The 2014 model tracks straight and true with zero drama all the way to a 15.2 second 1/4 mile. Stacking this up with the competition, the Regal is notably slower than the Cadillac CTS/ATS 2.0T and Volvo’s S60 T5 AWD; and a hair slower than the 3.7L Lincoln MKZ, Lexus ES 350 and Acura TL. Despite similar power figures, the Volvo ran to 60 nearly 7/10ths faster which caused me to question my numbers. However, a loaner provided by a local dealer confirmed my findings. The reason seems rooted both in the GS’ gear ratios and the more advantageous torque curve from Volvo’s funky 5-cylinder.

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD Exterior-010

At $37,830 starting, $40,195 with AWD and $44,975 full-loaded, the Regal undercuts the Volvo S60 T5 AWD and Acura TL by a couple thousand across the board (comparably equipped) and is more than $5,000 cheaper than the Lexus ES depending on your configuration. The Acura TL is in its final year of production and is, as you would assume, outclassed by the Regal in most ways. The recently refreshed Volvo delivers better road feel and a slightly more premium interior at the expense of more cash and less grip. The Lexus ES suffers from soft springs, an uncompetitive interior and steep price tag.

Over 611 miles I managed a reasonable 22.1 MPG in the GS which bests the real-world numbers from the V6 competition but comes short of the turbo Caddy and Swede. Why do I keep coming back to Cadillac? Because as hard as GM has tried to keep Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac from stepping on each other’s toes, the Regal GS is about the same price as the 2014 Cadillac ATS. It’s hard enough to go up against what is probably the second best vehicle GM has ever produced, but it is made doubly hard when there are so many combined Buick/Cadillac dealers. This means you’ll frequently find the Regal GS next to a sharp handling Caddy is on the same lot. Trickier still is the base Cadillac CTS which is slightly cheaper than a loaded GS, and, you guessed it: is often parked right next to the Buick.  Buick seems to have finally gotten the hang of being the middle child and in the process they have given not only Chevy owners but Volkswagen owners something to aspire to. That said, I’d be hard pressed to choose the Regal over an ATS 2.0T.


GM provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.67 Seconds

0-60: 6.7 Seconds

1/4 Mile:15.2 Seconds @ 93 MPH

Average observed fuel economy: 22.1 MPG over 611 miles

Interior sound level at 50 MPH: 68.5 dB @ 50 MPH

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GM’s Opel Desperation Extends To Australia Fri, 26 Oct 2012 16:28:31 +0000

General Motors is so desperate to find new customers for Opel cars that they’re introducing the brand to Australia, where it’s set to butt heads against Holden – Australia’s long-time favorite car brand.

To be fair, the Commodore is no longer the king of Australian car sales. Imported cars like the Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla and even the HiLux have knocked the big rear-drive sedan off of its perch, but according to Car and Driver, 1 in 8 cars sold Down Under are Holdens.

In recent years, Holden’s smaller passenger cars have come from Korea derived models rather than European products; Holden once sold the Astra and Corsa, but today it’s the Cruze and Barina (aka Spark on our shores). And that is what GM is counting on to bring customers into Opel showrooms.

Opel’s Bill Mott told Car and Driver

“We think—and when I say ‘we’ I speak for both myself and Holden management—that our [customers are] looking for a European and, in particular, German brand experience. And [Holden], by definition, can’t cover [those customers]. Either we walk away from that market as General Motors, or we attack it. We’re bringing Opel to attack it, and we’re doing it in concert with Holden.”

Mott cites the explosive sales of German brands in Australia – which have grown 30 percent over the last decade – as evidence of the necessity of Opel. But aside from the Volkswagen Golf and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, German cars don’t rank too highly in Australian sales charts. Consumers already know the Astra as a Holden from previous years, and it’s hard to imagine that its sales as an Opel will convince them that it’s really a premium product on par with German competitors. More importantly, Opel doesn’t have anywhere near the cachet that other German nameplates do. Who does GM think they’re fooling anyways?

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European Chevrolet Production May Help Ease Opel Capacity Problem Mon, 14 May 2012 13:32:40 +0000

With Opel’s fortunes in the toilet and Chevrolet vehilces gaining ground in Europe, Opel brass are looking at an obvious solution – stop building Chevrolet products in South Korea and start building them in Europe.

Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke told the New York Times that

“We are in talks with our colleagues in Detroit and Shanghai to find out whether we can build Chevrolet vehicles in Europe, to improve utilization of capacity,” 

The article touches on the many familiar Opel problems – the need to close factories, excessive capacity, staggering losses (Q1 2012 saw Opel lose $300 million), but the Chevrolet solution won’t be an umbrella cure of Opel’s ills. Building Cruzes and Sonics (or Aveos, as they’re known) in Europe brings to light whether the cost advantage of building in South Korea can be maintained.

Opel is also looking to export markets, like Latin America, Australia and the Middle East for growth, but given the popularity of brands like Chevrolet and Holden in those markets, is there room for yet another sort-of premium brand when established GM nameplates and more prestigious European marques are already fighting it out in their respective spheres?

If anything, the way out of this mess may be the PSA alliance. GM puts Russelsheim to use by twinning the Citroen C5 and Opel Insignia, while PSA uses their excess capacity at the Rennes plant (just like Opel, PSA’s unions fear the closure of the factory) to build the Zafira/Picasso/Peugeot MPV. Meanwhile, mum’s the word over at PSA headquarters. That would allow Astra production to be sent to a lower-cost facility in Poland, and England, where the Astra is a key product for Vauxhall.

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GM-PSA Alliance Bears Fruit: Opel To Build Citroen C5 Successor Fri, 11 May 2012 14:05:48 +0000

With a new Citroen C5 due in 2016, production of the mid-size Citroen will shift from PSA’s Rennes plant to an undisclosed Opel facility. A French car, built by Germans – eat your heart out, Clemens.

The move comes as part of the General Motors-PSA alliance, which sees cars like the C5 and Opel Insignia sharing a GM derived platform, while PSA contributes small car knowledge for the next Citroen C3 and Opel Corsa.

Union officials in France have long maintained that Rennes will be closed, and point to a dwindling workforce – cut in half from just three years ago – as evidence that PSA plans to shutter the plant. But the head of the factory recently told a local newspaper that a 40 million euro investment was planned for the site, which also builds the Citroen C5 and Peugeot 508.

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Review: 2011 Buick Regal Wed, 12 May 2010 17:25:29 +0000

With Pontiac and Saturn gone, Buick must assume a larger role within General Motors. It must now seek to win over enthusiasts who would have previously bought Pontiacs and the import-intenders who previously bought Saturns. The first product to follow from this expanded mission: the new 2011 Buick Regal. The Regal began life as the Opel Insignia—it will even be imported from Germany for the first year—and was to be marketed in the United States as the second-generation Saturn Aura. But it has been available in China as the Buick Regal for over a year now, so putting the tri-shield on the grille isn’t entirely an afterthought. This isn’t even the first time Opel has manufactured a car for Buick dealers—this tie goes way back. Even so, is the Regal a plausible Buick?

When I first saw the new Regal, in China, it really stood out. But the Chinese still get the rest of the world’s hand-me-downs. The circa 1985 MkII Volkswagen Jetta continues to be sold as a new car there, and decade-old designs are common. So recently designed cars tend to stand out. In the American context, the Regal blends. Yes, it’s handsome, but the same can be said for other clean, chunkily-proportioned, Audi-influenced sedans. The Suzuki Kizashi comes to mind. Thanks to a basically curvy shape, the Opel Insignia looks much more like a Buick than the similarly imported Opel Omega looked like a Cadillac, but this isn’t saying much. Within the Buick family, the Regal has been stuck with the role of Jan. Those seeking a distinctively styled car that is clearly a Buick will opt to date the family’s Marcia, the LaCrosse.

Inside the new Regal, the story is the same, with a more conventional, more straightforward design than you’ll find in the LaCrosse. Materials are better than the GM norm, and are certainly a step or two up from those in the Saturn Aura, but aren’t quite up to those in the Acuras and Audis GM hopes to steal buyers from. White stitching on the seats and upholstered door panel inserts and numerous chrome details provide welcome contrast within the “ebony” (i.e. black) interior—though the thick chrome shifter surround might be a bit much. Unlike in the LaCrosse, there is no stitching on the instrument panel or the upper door panels. The various elements of the IP cohere and flow together much better than they did in the Saturn Aura this car was to replace. Piano black trim runs along the base of the windshield to trace a continuous arc from door to door and also flows down into the center console from a band that runs mid-level across the instrument panel. For those who find the dark interior overly dark—and many potential buyers likely will, despite the contrasting bits—Buick offers a two-tone cocoa/cashmere interior with faux wood trim.

The Regal’s relatively conventional interior design pays functional dividends. Thanks to the car’s lower instrument panel and thinner (but still not thin) pillars, it’s much easier to see out of the Regal than the LaCrosse. The shifter is better positioned. And the various controls are easier to reach—though in the Regal as in the button-laden LaCrosse it’s often a challenge to find the one you’re looking for.

Oddly, while Cadillac no longer offers 4-way power lumbar adjustments in the CTS or SRX, Buick offers this feature in both the Regal and the LaCrosse. And yet the Regal’s moderately firm front seats aren’t especially comfortable, and only a German might find them luxurious. It doesn’t help that the headrests are very firm and jut too far forward in the interest of cheap whiplash protection. The bolsters provide a bit of lateral support, but in the GM fashion are too widely spaced for the average driver. Sure, the same could be said about the seats in a number of competing cars—it’s not easy finding great seats. But seats used to be a Buick focus.

Compared to the LaCrosse, the Regal rides on a four-inch-shorter wheelbase and, at just over 190 inches in length, is nearly seven inches shorter overall. These dimensional differences most impact rear seat room. While the LaCrosse offers 40.5 inches of rear legroom, the Regal provides 37.3, about average for a midsize car. Six-footers will fit, but the flat rear seat cushion is mounted far too low to provide thigh support—blame the fashionably arched roofline. One welcome premium feature: rear air vents.

Jan always was more practical than Marcia. So perhaps it should not come as a surprise that, with 14.2 cubic feet of cargo volume, Regal actually has a slightly larger trunk than the LaCrosse. In both cars GM opted for conventional gooseneck hinges, then fully encased the paths taken by these hinges to yield an especially narrow space. Why? Just to save a few dollars per car? Those who like big butts trunks will go elsewhere.

Partly to differentiate the Regal from the LaCrosse, Buick won’t offer the smaller sedan with a V6. The only engine currently available: a 182-horsepower direct-injected 2.4-liter. At 3,600 pounds, the new Regal could stand to lose a few (hundred), but the normally-aspirated four moves two tons (with driver and passenger) well enough in typical around town driving, and without making noises unbecoming a Buick. Most drivers won’t feel the need for more power.

For those who do, a 220-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four will arrive in the fall. Initially, as with the 2.4, a manually-shiftable six-speed automatic that isn’t always the smoothest operator is the only transmission. A six-speed manual will be available “for order” with the turbo in late 2010—don’t expect dealers to stock any. The turbo gets a different steering system that adds variable assist and adaptive shocks with “sport” and “tour” settings will be optional. Farther into the future a Regal GS will combine a 255-horsepower turbo four with a six-speed manual and all-wheel-drive. What do you know, Buick is seriously pitching this car at enthusiasts.

To an even greater degree than the specs suggest, the Regal feels more compact and lighter than the LaCrosse. The steering is a little heavier, feels tighter and more precise, and provides more feedback. There’s more body roll than in the performance-oriented LaCrosse CXS, but also a smoother, more composed ride. Chassis tuning is a Regal strongpoint—something not typically expected from Buick. When it’s taken up a notch with the turbo and manual transmission, the Regal should prove a very fun car to drive.

For the first year, because it will be imported from high-cost Germany, the Regal will only be offered in mid-level CXL trim. The starting price of $26,995 jumps to $28,840 when you add the tested car’s sunroof and Convenience Package (power passenger seat, rear obstacle detection, AC outlet). A V6-powered LaCrosse CXL is about $2,500 more, according to’s car price comparison. A similarly-equipped four-cylinder Honda Accord? About $500 less sticker-to-sticker, and about $1,800 less invoice-to-invoice—Buick dealers have much less margin to play with. Adjusting for the Regal’s higher content cuts the difference by about $600.

Buick would rather you compare the Regal to the Acura TSX. Do this and you’ll find that the Buick is about $1,300 less sticker-to-sticker, but only about $600 less invoice-to-invoice. The Buick has about $200 in additional content. So it appears that the Regal isn’t badly priced, but also isn’t likely to sell based on price. 

The Regal CXL Turbo will start at $29,495, but aside from the turbo this price will also include the $845 Convenience Package. So the turbo adds a very reasonable $1,655, and will undercut a similarly equipped Volkswagen CC, the closest European competitor, by about $4,000.

Overall, the new Regal looks and feels more like an Audi (with VW materials) than a Buick, while being priced midway between Honda and Acura. It’s a solid car with large number of standard features and a very good ride-handling compromise. But does it have what it takes to bring people who never saw themselves driving a Buick into Buick showrooms? As much as a German car at Japanese prices has a certain appeal, it’s perhaps too subtle. This formula certainly didn’t work with the Saturn Astra. More of the LaCrosse’s style or of the luxury for which Buick has traditionally been known would help. Or perhaps adding boost will do the trick, at least for those who enjoy driving? We’ll find out later this year.

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive reliability and pricing data

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Bob Lutz’s Traveling Old Time Niche Product Sideshow Tue, 17 Nov 2009 15:18:30 +0000 Bob in his element

Are more losses showing up on your post-bankruptcy financial statement? Are uptight Europeans and Republicans making your overseas division rescue harder than it needs to be? Is the thought of another year defined by Consumer Reports mediocrity getting you down? Good news! GM’s court jester Bob Lutz hasn’t been shipped off to chair Opel just yet, and he’s been sprinkling the autoblogosphere with his patented enthusiast-baiting niche product hints.

Did you know you’ll be able to buy a Cadillac CTS-V as either a sedan, a coupe or a wagon? When Car and Driver hear the news they “kept an external cool, but inside, we were overjoyed.” I guess I’d have been more curious how long the 550+ hp brute will be available at all, when an RWD Impala is being ruled out on fuel efficiency concerns. But there’s more wagonmania to come! Were you aware that GM is considering a wagon version of its just-announced, Opel Insignia-derived Buick Regal? How else were  they going to take on Acura’s recently-announced TSX Wagon? Plus, a GS version of the Regal (aka Insignia OPC) is being hinted at as well. A station wagon with a 335 hp-ish turbocharged V6, AWD and a manual transmission? Sounds like a forum fanboy dream come true until you realize how much it would cost once they ship them over from Germany. Sadly, Lutz reveals that the chances of a Regal wagon depends on the success of the CTS sportwagon. Never mind then. But a twin-turbo Camaro? That’s a solid “perhaps,” according to GM’s Man of Maximum. Now discuss these possible maybes ad nauseum at your forum of choice, and stop asking about financial reports, struggling overseas divisions and IPOs. Niche station wagons are what this industry is really about. Take it from Bob.

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