I'd love to go back to the 'Ring in a Regal with the 2.0-liter turbo and the optional IDCS (Interactive Drive Control System), which costs $1250 and provides "sport" and "touring" buttons on the center console and also allows you to custom-program steering feel, throttle and gearshift patterns, and other dynamic settings. Continuous damper control (CDC) is part of this package and retards damper rebound for a tighter ride.
That 'Ring drive might have to wait for the even hotter version of the Regal that's on the drawing board. Likely to be labeled the Regal GS, this future variant (think mid-2011) will get a tuned version of the 2.0-liter four. How tuned? Federico only will say "I intend to wring every bit of power out of it that I can" without unduly compromising fuel economy or the "balance" that he thinks a Buick needs. With standard all-wheel drive, beefed-up brakes and suspension, sport seats, and a choice of manual or automatic transmissions, the Regal GS might just give the Audi S4 something to worry about next year. If the GS is as good a car as the European-market Opel Insignia OPC that is the inspiration for its development team -- and which Winkelhock gave me a hot lap in at the 'Ring -- we really have something to look forward to.
Disappointments? The Regal's interior is handsome, well-designed, and a huge leap over Buicks of the recent past, but it lacks the pizzazz of the new LaCrosse interior, and its plastics fall a bit short of those in not only cars like the Volkswagen Passat but even the Hyundai Genesis. The seats are very comfortable and supportive, though, and the back seat is reasonably roomy. The center console lid can get in the way of your elbow and wrist if you're shifting the manual gate; flipping it open and back helps alleviate this but is hardly an ideal solution. And with an asking price of just under $30,000, the turbo four-cylinder model isn't cheap, although it does come quite well equipped. The 2.4-liter starts at about $27,000, and for the 2012 model year, once North American Regal production shifts to GM's Oshawa, Ontario, plant, a model undercutting the CXL will be introduced; one assumes it will come in at less than $25,000.
Those quibbles aside, the Regal, a nameplate that not long ago was synonymous with GM mediocrity, is now a symbol for what GM can do right, and do well.
2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo
Base price/as tested: $29,495/$30,745
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged DOHC 16-valve inline-4
Horsepower: 220 hp
Torque: 258 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
EPA rating (city/highway, estimated): 19/29 mpg