First Look: 2012 Buick Regal GS

2012 Buick Regal GS

A Buick debut in South Florida. Makes sense, right? Only we're not in West Palm Beach eating dinner at 3:30 pm and talking about canvas-topped Park Avenues but rather, in hopping South Beach to attend the official debut of the 2012 Buick Regal GS.

First things first: many will be crestfallen to learn the GS will not come with the turbocharged V-6 and all-wheel-drive setup found in the European Opel Insignia OPC. Instead, it will rely upon a higher-output version of the Regal Turbo's four-cylinder powering the front wheels only. The primary reasons we've heard from GM for this milder configuration have to do with weight and fuel economy. We're sure cost concerns also played a role, along with the larger question of where the brand should be positioned. Buick will not announce pricing until closer to the car's late 2011 launch, but we'd be surprised (read: very disappointed) if it started for more than $35,000.

What do you get with the GS? For starters, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that's been amped up from the 220 hp in the Regal Turbo to 255 hp and an impressive 295 lb-ft of torque. That power will travel to the front wheels via an honest-to-goodness six-speed manual (a six-speed automatic will be available shortly after launch). Buick promises a 0-60 time "under seven seconds." We hope that's well under seven seconds, as most workaday six-cylinder family sedans, not to mention the Hyundai Sonata 2.0T, can do the sprint in closer to six-seconds.

The decision to stick with four-cylinder power should pay dividends terms of handling balance. And although torque vectoring all-wheel-drive is out of the picture, the GS still has some tricks up its sleeve courtesy of the Insignia OPC. A new strut design up front, seen on our shores earlier this year on the V-6-powered LaCrosse, will purportedly improve steering feel and combat torque steer -- a good thing since the latter already plagues the less powerful Turbo. In addition, the Regal will employ adjustable active dampers with three settings, "Standard, "Sport," and "GS." These settings will also adjust steering effort. Nineteen-inch all-season tires or optional twenty-inch summer tires and Brembo front brakes round out the package.

No surprise, the GS looks very similar to last year's concept car, which itself borrowed heavily from its OPC older brother. In addition to the aforementioned big wheels, the GS has unique front and rear fascias, a lowered stance, and dual exhausts to let you it's the fast version. The interior sparkles with Germanic charm, featuring heavily bolstered black-leather front buckets, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and satin trim. All very nice, but would it have been too much to ask for a few cues to Buick's own performance heritage, such as a blacked-out front grille and a retro turbo badge?

We'll need to drive the GS before we can determine whether it truly belongs with the tight-shirt-wearing masses on South Beach or if it's still more at home in a Century Village parking lot. Given its appealing powertrain and no-so-appealing front-wheel-drive configuration, we predict it will fall somewhere in the middle. Like say, a high-end strip mall in Boca Raton. Stay tuned for more information and insight on the vehicle later tonight.

Darkitec
Turbo 4, front wheel drive, heavy torque steer, 0 to 60 we hope maybe under 7 seconds? This is Government Motors idea of a performance Car? They need to rename this the Regal BS.Where's the V8 rwd Park Avenue GS? that is the worlds idea a performance vehicle.
alpha1847
I am so frustrated because it seemed Buick was heading in the right direction, but this looks like it's back to some of the same old, penny-pinching habits that got them in trouble the first time. The LaCrosse is a nice looking car inside and out, but frankly, it's just too big and heavy to be considered a sport sedan, and thus not something I would buy. Plus, that high beltline bothers me when you sit in the car. As an owner of an Infiniti G35 looking for an upgrade in the near future, all I was hoping for was a domestic alternative to the Audi A4. A sporty, FUEL EFFICIENT AWD sedan. I was really hoping this would be the car. I guess I'll have to keep waiting. At the end of the day, it may not have been as good on gas anyway, considering they can only squeeze 19/29 out of the FWD version. Audi already does better with AWD (21/29). I don't get how Hyundai can squeeze 5 more MPGs in the city and 4 more in the highway out of a more powerful car. The Buick's extra weight can't explain all of that.
tt618
I saw a Regal in a parking lot yesterday...very attractive car! I would hope Buick could undercut it's competitors on price. I know it's difficult to compete with the Koreans who have lower wages, but it should still be affordable for us working folk. That being said, I would have NEVER considered a Buick before the current lacrosse and regal came out. I do agree with alpha1847 and Daye in that they should have blown this car up a bit more extreme....or maybe, just maybe they're saving it for a new Grand National? I can dream...
Daye
This car gives the impression that Buick is still playing it safe. This car should have been the Regal Turbo and the Insignia OPC should have been the Regal GS (Or just call it the Buick Insignia--sounds better). This car is going to be in the odd position of costing more than a Sonata Turbo and offering less power and probably costing nearly as much as a Genesis, which offers a V6 and more power. Maybe GM will fix this in the second model year or with the next generation of the car.
alpha1847
TERRIBLE decision to not offer AWD. They can call themselves an Audi competitor, but until this happens, not even close. I was really hopeful they would offer this, but there is no longer a chance that I would consider this car, nomatter how good the FWD dynamics are. I know there are many people like me too.

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