Buick Regal GS: The Detuned Image Changer

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
buick regal gs the detuned image changer

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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  • Rod Panhard Rod Panhard on Jan 08, 2010

    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.

  • Mjz Mjz on Jan 08, 2010

    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!

    • John Williams John Williams on Jan 08, 2010

      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.

  • Buickman Buickman on Jan 08, 2010

    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.

    • Rnc Rnc on Jan 09, 2010

      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.

  • Mjz Mjz on Jan 08, 2010

    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).

    • Mtymsi Mtymsi on Jan 09, 2010

      No way this car will sell in any appreciable numbers at $30k+.