The difficult restructuring of General Motors in the past few years resulted in four brands left standing: Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC. Buick has been the surprising standout, becoming a success story with its new products.
The Enclave crossover, introduced in 2008, was the original model that started the brand’s renaissance. It still continues to sell well, and the second-generation LaCrosse has followed up with higher sales and increased transaction prices.
The Regal, a lightly restyled Opel Insignia, was brought over this year from Europe. Buick is hoping to attract a whole new buyer base with the Regal, and is launching a new salvo in that effort with the Regal GS.
The Regal GS will be making its official debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show is in two weeks. With the promise of the Opel Insignia OPC and the Buick Regal GS Concept, the GS is a car enthusiasts have been waiting for.
While the Regal/Insignia is a front-wheel drive vehicle, the OPC model comes standard with all-wheel drive and AWD makes up an essential component of that car’s performance package. The GS ditches the AWD, and also the OPC’s more serious sporting intentions.
The GS starts is powered by a turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter Ecotec inline-four cylinder. The engine will make about 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, good for a 0-60 time of under 7 seconds according to GM. The car has an impressive amount of a torque, but the horsepower output is a bit disappointing.
The 255 hp figure is down significantly on the Insignia OPC’s 325 HP twin-turbo 2.8-liter V-6. A bright spot in the powertrain department however is the standard six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic with paddle shifters should be available shortly after the GS launches.
Other important changes include Brembo brakes, GM’s HiPer Strut Suspension and a new Interactive Drive Control system. The system offers the ability to set the suspension in three different modes: that has three mode standard, sport and GS While toned down a bit versus the Opel, the exterior certainly looks the part, with the OPC’s large vertical air intakes and optional 20-inch (19 is standard) satin chrome wheels featuring.
Out back there is a more aggressive, reworked exhaust system. With a pretty sporty existing cockpit, changes in the interior are few. The GS gets a flat-bottom steering wheel, metal pedals and satin-finish accents on the instrument panel, steering wheel and console.
We were hoping Buick would go all the way and really shock us with a virtually-untouched OPC, but that didn’t quite turn out like we wanted. Don’t get us wrong – this car is a step in the right direction for Buick, just too small of one in our opinion.
The question now is if this car is enough to get Buick noticed by the crowd it needs to. We may have to wait until an updated GS or a Regal Grand National model for that.