So I got an early Christmas present last year: a turbo Regal in the driveway–a 2012 Buick Regal GS, no less–with a six-speed stick shift. Being a bit of a Buick geek (former 1963 Riviera and 1972 Skylark owner), I sat there for a minute marveling that such a creature actually existed today. Really, who among us could have predicted a nearly 300-hp six-speed Regal would exist 10 or even five short years ago?
There are great seats, good visibility and a nice interior layout, if a bit heavy on the black-button side of things. Switchblade key extended, I was ready to roll, except there’s no key slot. It’s a push-button ignition. But there’s a key. OK, whatever General Motors, we can forgive a little parts-bin sharing (it was the exact key fob I used in the Chevrolet Equinox the night before, just with a Buick tri-shield).
The flat-bottomed steering wheel was a nice touch as I left the building, accelerating onto the freeway. Road noise and engine noise were really well muted, with just a faint turbo whistle in high-load situations. Being a front-wheel-drive car, I expected at least a modicum of torque steer when jumping on the throttle, but it’s almost completely absent. That’s remarkable when you consider that this is a relatively high-strung four pushing 295 lb-ft of torque through the 19-inch front rubber.
Shift throws through the six-speed gearbox were a little long but had a nice feel and were well matched to the engine. The Brembo brakes? Outstanding. Press the GS button on the dash, and the suspension tightens up to levels mimicking substantially more expensive German machinery. The car overall is exceptionally well executed.
But those expecting a rip-snorting Buick sedan might come away somewhat disappointed. The Regal GS simply doesn’t feel as fast as the numbers might suggest. The front-wheel-drive powertrain doesn’t help. Despite the lack of torque steer, there’s no mistaking the Regal for an AWD or RWD performance sedan. Neither does the nearly two-ton curb weight. After stomping on the throttle and listening to the turbo spool up, the result is a little underwhelming.
I also experienced something with the Regal GS that I haven’t had happen in a long time: engine stumbling. At a stoplight on a chilly Detroit morning, transmission in neutral, the engine rpm started to falter. It threatened to quit for about three seconds, then caught itself and stabilized. I experienced no further incidents during my time with the car, so I’m not sure what the issue was.
Flaws aside, the Regal GS is my Miracle on Jefferson Avenue. After all, I’ve wished for a new turbo Regal since the demise of the G-body GNX in 1987. Since it’s now come true, let’s step up the game a bit: I want a body-on-frame rear-wheel-drive turbo Regal with T-tops. And if they can make the headliner droop after a couple years, all the better.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: I was pleasantly surprised to have the Buick Regal GS for the weekend. The 20-inch chrome wheels, big brakes and intimidating front end give the Regal a nice, aggressive look, with a little bit of class thrown in. The lines have a great flow to them, and the chrome trim isn’t too gaudy. It’s a sweet-looking car; in fact, a neighbor thought it was a foreign make from a few houses away.
Inside, the GS impresses with comfortable and contoured leather seats. They have good side bolsters for a small guy like me and can adjust any way you like. The steering wheel is a mix of smooth leather, perforated leather and shiny plastic. I really enjoyed the top, perforated part. It reminded me of Audi seats. And the flat-bottomed steering wheel added to the sportiness.
Most of the cabin reminded me of Audis, actually, with the one-touch radio controller, smartly laid out buttons and relaxed atmosphere. It might not be as sterile as the Four Rings, but it’s very well done.
The 2012 Buick Regal has the new MyLink infotainment system that combines navigation, entertainment and climate options with a wheel like that in an Audi or a BMW. It’s an intuitive system that is easy to control without having a computer-related degree. There’s always a home button on the screen, so if you get too deep in the system you can jump back. The speaker setup is plenty loud, and the system worked perfectly with my iPhone.
I did eventually fire up the engine and row some gears, but first I had the same reaction that Andy did. Flick the switchblade key, check the column, the dash and finally the center console à la Saab before I realized that there was an ignition button and no keyhole. A bit strange, but once I got used to it, no problem. The GS has unlock buttons on the door handles, so the keys don’t have to leave the coat pocket.
In normal operation the GS is quick but not stupefying. The front-wheel-drive chassis is one of the better examples, with most of the torque steer muted and very balanced handling characteristics. With the GS button pushed, the shocks stiffen up and the steering seems to button down. The chassis goes from stiff but compliant to tuner-car levels of bounce and grip. It feels good, and 90 percent of the time it can stay in that mode. But certain spots on the freeway, when the bumps get rhythmic, it can get a bit punishing.
Like Andy, I was a bit underwhelmed with the speed. The car is just a bit on the heavy side at 3,710 pounds. It takes off quickly, and if you drop a few gears on the expressway it can get going. But when running through the gears in a straight line, power seems to plane out at about 4,250 rpm. Don’t get me wrong, it’s quick, and it’s fun. It could be one of my favorite domestics. Just give it about 30 hp more–300 is a nice round number–and maybe a bit more grunt. I like the sound of the turbo whistle, which is easy to hear in the cabin, but even under wide-open throttle it doesn’t really scream.
Overall it’s a fantastic-looking car–at a price point lower than that of many foreign competitors–that offers nearly the same performance. An all-wheel-drive chassis might just push it over the edge. Maybe call it a GSX?
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: I’ll say this about the GS: I’d take one of these before I touched the Nissan Maxima that I drove the other night, and I’d save a couple grand in the process. And the Buick is something like $8,500 less than our long-term Volvo S60 R-Design? I’ll take the Buick, thanks.
I liked the GS’s looks, especially the exterior, which I thought looked terrific. If I ran Buick, I’d think about perhaps offering this body kit as some sort of option on lesser models. The interior looked good, too, though there’s an awful lot of black. But the materials were up to snuff and everything is screwed together well.
I personally thought that the car was plenty quick, about what I expected. This is a sweet little engine with the turbocharger and GM should be scrambling to put it in more stuff. Could the car shed some pounds? Of course it could. But couldn’t most things we drive? This car could use better steering, too, with more feedback. One other nit about the engine is that it could use a better exhaust note, more like that of the Volkswagen 2.0-liter turbo. But that should be an easy enough fix with some exhaust tuning.
The GS was fun to buzz around town in and to blast down the highway like the German-bred sedan it is. I was impressed.
NEWS EDITOR GREG MIGLIORE: The 2012 Buick Regal GS is an excellent sporty trim for the model line, with plenty of power, a tight chassis and an enjoyable six-speed manual. The turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder is strong, quick from launch and delivers every one of its 270 horses in compelling fashion. It’s a smart move putting this engine in a top-trim Regal and pairing it with a manual. The car feels–and is–quick. The steering is a bit light, but there is enough response. The car performs well in corners, and downshifting through turns to explode onto the open road is a lot of fun. The GS setting makes this thing a touch sportier, too. The chassis is solid, well-sprung and captures the right feel for premium-seeking enthusiasts: tight, but not too tight and athletic when you want it to be.
The cabin is quiet, the seats are sporty, supportive and of high-quality materials, and the instrument panel with the glowing gauges and sharp trim presents well. My only beef is some of the materials on the dash and in the interior looked at bit pedestrian.
I spent a lot of time in this car over the holidays, making multiple trips across town. The Regal GS was fun, kept me entertained and was practical. Passengers were mostly comfortable, the trunk swallowed seven presents of varying sizes, and there always was the potential to hammer it in second or third gear and grab everyone’s attention if I needed a moment of solitude behind the wheel.
The looks strike the right chord with me: the blinged-out, over-the-top wheels work with classy headlights and the sabertooth fascia up front. The subtle yet stylish curves are attractive, and it all makes for an eye-catching, though not overbaked appearance.
An enthusiast passenger made an interesting comment: This car would be better with 40 hp more and all-wheel drive. Yeah, it would. So would a lot of cars. And I agree; if the GS were to stand alone as more of a true sports sedan, then it would require a bit more power and perhaps AWD. But this isn’t the second coming of the muscle-car era. It’s merely the fastest, sportiest Regal in 2012 and it compares favorably with the Audi A4 in many performance categories (including hp and torque).
With all of that in mind, I think the GS is a sharp execution that wouldn’t even have been possible from Buick a few short years ago. If Buick ever gets the all-wheel-drive, 325-hp Insignia OPC, the brand can simply call it something else. GNX, anyone?
2012 Buick Regal GS
Base Price: $35,310
As-Tested Price: $38,350
Drivetrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4; FWD, six-speed manual
Output: 270 hp @ 5,300 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 2,400 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,710 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 22/21.1 mpg
Options: AM/FM stereo with CD and MP3 playback and navigation system with seven-inch color touch screen ($1,145); power sunroof ($1,000); 20-inch polished alloy wheels ($700); carbon black metallic paint ($195)
For more information: Check out the 2012 Buick Regal GS at shopautoweek.com.
CarDVD-Player.net All Right Reserved.Back to Shopping on: Car DVD player car dvd player with GPS for Toyota Car DVD Player with GPS for Honda Car DVD Player with GPS for Hyundai Car PC Car DVD Players Headrest DVD Player Audi DVD Player BMW DVD Player Buick DVD Player Chevrolet DVD Player Citroen DVD Player Daihatsu DVD Player Ford DVD Player Fiat DVD Player GMC DVD Player Honda DVD Player Hyundai DVD Player Lexus DVD Player Kia DVD Player Mazda DVD Player Mercedes-Benz DVD Player Mitsubishi DVD Player Nissan DVD Player Opel DVD Player Peugeot DVD Player Skoda DVD Player Renault DVD Player Suzuki DVD Player Toyota DVD Player Volkswagen DVD Player Rear Camera
- 2012 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ: Review notes Spend a little bit of time in the driver’s seat...
- 2012 Cadillac CTS Premium Collection: Review notes I picked up the 2012 Cadillac CTS after spending a long...
- 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL550 4Matic: Review notes The price of this 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL550 4Matic makes me gasp,...
- 2012 GMC Acadia Denali: Review notes When you have something good, why change it, right? That...
- 2012 BMW 650i Coupe: Review notes What an absolute beauty this 2012 BMW 650i coupe is–a...
- 2012 Ford Focus SE 5-door: Review notes 2012 Ford Focus SE 5-door Base Price: $18,790 As-Tested Price:...
- 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee: Review notes EXECUTIVE EDITOR ROGER HART: This 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee...
- 2012 Kia Rio SX 5-door: Review notes This 2012 Kia Rio SX 5-door is a sweet little runabout–well-equipped,...
- 2012 Nissan Murano SL: Review notes Crossovers continue to be a white-hot segment of the new-car...
- 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL550 4Matic: Review notes The price of this 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL550 4Matic makes me gasp,...