1. The new Buick Regal is a hatchback.
The big shocker at the Regal unveil was that the car would be offered as a five-door hatch rather than a four-door sedan. Not that this requires a huge leap of imagination: The Regal is based on the European-market Opel Insignia which, like most European mid-sizers, can be had as a hatchback — and not the mini-wagon econobox we usually think of, but a long, sleek, sedan-like shape with a tailgate hinged above the rear window. So the leap to a hatchback Regal is not a big one, but we figured it would never happen because…well, because it’s a Buick. Buick’s primary markets are China and the US, both of which have long preferred sedans. The beauty of this body style is that there’s no real downside: The Regal Sportback’s profile isn’t that different from a traditional four-door, but cargo space and access are much better.
2. The new Buick Regal is a wagon.
The hatchback thing was a shocker, but the Regal TourX was an even bigger surprise. We love wagons—we’re automotive journalists, so it’s in our DNA — and while we’ve been lusting after the Insignia wagon for years, we never figured GM would bring it here to the States. But perhaps we’re wrong to assume that Buick would always take the conservative route; after all, they were the first player to jump into the subcompact luxury SUV market with the Encore. Not that the TourX is breaking new ground; it’s got a raised suspension and blacked-out rockers and fender cladding, similar to the Subaru Outback and Volvo V90 Cross Country. What pleases us is how different the TourX appears from the Sportback: Although the two cars share sheetmetal ahead of the B-pillar, they have unique looks and personalities.
3. The Regal Sportback looks a lot like a BMW.
As Buick unveiled the new Sportback to a design dome full of journalists, our man in Detroit leaned over to someone else’s man in Detroit and said, “Is it me, or does that thing look like a Six Series?” While the resemblance may not show in the photos, there are a lot of subtle cues that show up when you see the car in person: The angle between the headlights and the grille (which differs markedly from the LaCrosse), the roundness of the fenders and hood, the creases on the bodyside, and the way the taillights flow into the trunk, all of which have us thinking of Bavaria. (It didn’t hurt that the car was revealed in dark blue, a color that looks good on most BMWs.) Clearly, Bimmer was an inspiration to the design, and can you blame Buick? After all, there are worse things to say about an American car than “It looks a bit like a BMW.”
4. The Regal TourX looks a little like a Volvo.
Well, what did you expect? Volvo is the only company that seems to be serious about wagons these days; even Subaru has boxed up the Outback to make it look more like an SUV. And with that V90 Cross Country-like fender cladding, a comparison to Volvo is inevitable. Like the V90, the Regal TourX has classic wagon lines: Long and low, complete with a roof-rack. GM’s last wagon, the Cadillac CTS, was supermodel sexy; this one, like the Volvo V90, gives off a distinctly more family-friendly vibe — but remember, we live in an age where moms are sex symbols, and just as Kathy Ireland still looks good to us, so does the new Regal TourX.
5. Buick is afraid of the word “wagon”.
It’s the wagon-ness that we love about the Regal TourX, which makes it all the more awkward that Buick seems to be avoiding the word “wagon” at all costs. They’re trying to pass off the TourX as a crossover utility vehicle, which makes absolutely no sense, especially when you consider that Buick has the small-medium-large crossover thing covered quite nicely with the Encore, Envision, and Enclave. Set the Regal TourX next to them and it’s clear which of the four was adopted. Come on, Buick — we’re loving that you had the guts to give us the Regal in hatchback and wagon form. Don’t lose your nerve over a label.
6. If a 2018 Regal hits you, pyrotechnics will cushion the blow.
Among the 2018 Regal’s safety features is a hood designed to minimize injury to pedestrians. If the Regal strikes a person at low speed, sensors in the bumper fire two rams that push the rear edge of the hood upwards. A GM engineer explained the great lengths they went to in order to ensure the hood would be triggered by human limbs and not anything else. Now there’s a test session we would have liked to observe…from a safe distance, that is.
7. The Opel sale won’t affect much.
Seeing how the current Regal is built in Canada, we were a bit surprised to learn that the new one would be built in Opel’s plant in Russelheim, Germany — especially as GM is selling Opel to French automaker Groupe PSA. Part of the sale agreement includes continued production of GM-designed Opels, including the Regal, and production in Germany will continue through at least 2019.
8. Mark Reuss says the new Regal will drive well, and we believe him.
Among the GM execs at the Regal reveal was Mark Reuss, GM’s Executive Vice President of Global Development. Mark assured the assembled journos that the Regal would be a good driver’s car, and we’re inclined to believe him — this is a guy who can drive. We’ve ridden with him on track at the CTS-V launch, and when GM revealed the Camaro ZL1 to the press with a quick thrill ride, Mark was one of the drivers. That said, if GM wants to make the Regal a real pleaser, they have their work cut out for them. When it comes to handling — and if one is judging by European standards — the current Insignia isn’t exactly a standout.