Living up to one’s namesake can be challenging. Buick launched the Regal in 1973 as a midsize coupe in an attempt to replicate the successes that Chevy and Pontiac were having with their Monte Carlo and Grand Prix models. The formula was simple: take the best luxury features of the full size cars, build them in a smaller scale and at a price point below the competition. We spent a week with the new Regal GS, and it helped to change our perceptions of the brand.
At first glance, the GS is intimidating. With a facelift for 2014, it stands apart from Regal’s lower trim levels. Up front the headlights are flanked by LEDs, and the air intakes are more aggressively styled than before. Big 19” polished wheels (20” are available for MY ’15) have trouble hiding the Brembo brakes.
Out back, the trunk lid has a tasteful lip spoiler, and dual stainless exhaust tips are integrated into the rear bumper. These features combined with the more pronounced rocker moldings make the GS look fast, even when parked.
This is one of the best interiors we have seen from Buick. Ebony leather is accented by Piano Black trim, and the fit and finish are above par. Seats are comfortable with deep bolsters and multiple lumbar adjustments. Controls are well placed with an emphasis on symmetry. Surfaces are pleasing to the touch, not the cheap plastics of yesteryear.
Infotainment is handled by GM’s Intellilink system which we’ve also encountered in the new Silverado. Nine Bose speakers take commands from HD Radio, Sirius, Pandora, Bluetooth, USB, SD Card, Aux Port, and even a CD player. The touch screen also includes hands-free phone and navigation.
Regal’s chassis (codenamed Epsilon II) was designed in Germany by Opel, who sells the car in Europe as the Insignia. Needless to say it would probably be at home on the Nürburgring. On our urban test loop, the magnetic rheological (MR) shocks kept cornering very flat while isolating all but the biggest bumps. The all-wheel drive (AWD) system performed extremely well, keeping the tires planted even in heavy rain. Did we mention the Brembo brakes? The machined aluminum brake pedal is very firm and fast to respond.
Power comes from a new 2.0L turbocharged version of GM’s venerable Ecotec four cylinder. With 259 hp and 295 ft-lbs of torque, it beats the 3.5L V6 found in the Lexus ES/Toyota Avalon by 47 ft-lbs. We were at first skeptical that Buick chose the GS name for a four cylinder, worried it wouldn’t live up to the Grand Sports of the past, but this car is quick. We liked the “GS” button on the dash. When pressed, it changes the nature of the car, bringing the transmission, turbo and suspension to their full potential – Grand Sport indeed.
What really sold us were all the features. The window sticker is written in a miniscule font to include it all, and it reads like a who’s who of luxury car options: ambient interior lighting, collision avoidance/braking, lane departure, adaptive cruise, heated steering wheel and every other conceivable convenience.
Our fully loaded tester had a sticker price of $43,780. Compare that to similarly equipped AWD sedans with the same performance and you will be just as amazed as we are. This is one of the nicest Buicks we have ever seen, and it looks to have all other luxury brands in its crosshairs.