There's a lot to like about the Regal GS. The engine is potent, the chassis is very willing to dance, and the cabin is comfortable and intuitive. One could make an academic argument against a front-wheel-drive sport sedan, but Buick has done as much as any other automaker to negate the inherent torque steer. It's unlikely the front-wheel-drive configuration will matter to anyone on public roads.
Given the small, but noticeable, amount of turbo lag, the rather tall gearing of the six-speed manual makes getting up to speed take a bit longer than you'd expect given the 295 lb-ft of torque (at 2400 rpm). Once you're moving, though, the power delivery is fantastic and passing is no problem whatsoever.
Anyone willing to forgo the image of driving an Audi or BMW will be happy with a Regal GS. In the real world it's just as fast and comfortable as the Germans, but it's also a bit cheaper and can be just as involving behind the wheel.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
The Buick Regal GS will probably not win any drag races. Over the course of a weekend I found myself lagging behind Toyota Corollas and dowdy small crossovers when leaving stoplights -- that is, until the 2.0-liter Ecotec four's turbo spooled up, at which point I was blown into the next county.
That's one little gripe, but the honest truth is that I really enjoy the Regal GS. Once you've tapped the engine's grunt, the car is seriously quick, and unlike some other front-wheel-drive speedsters, the wheel doesn't wrench this way or that when you stand on the loud pedal. The steering wheel is typical GM fare -- two sizes too large -- but the steering rack is nicely weighted, and the same suspension geometry (the curiously named HiPerStrut) that prevents torque steer also provides an impressive amount of front end grip.
A quick word on that loud pedal: it isn't loud. In typical Buick fashion, the engine is quiet once you're moving, but the engineers did leave us a nice present in the form of a very audible turbo whistle. At cruising speed the turbo is just as quiet as the engine, but a prod of the throttle pedal ratchets up the sound considerably. Drive it for a while and you'll find yourself goosing the gas pedal every once in a while, just to hear it.
The Regal's only major shortcoming, then, is its popularity (or lack thereof). Last month Buick sold just 1005 Regals, of which about 18 percent were GSs. Considering that the GS brings the thrills of a BMW 328i for a fraction of the price ($11,000 less, roughly), it's disappointing to hear.
Ben Timmins, Assoicate Web Editor
How unexpected it is to get into a Buick (a Buick!) and find a manual transmission. And even more unexpected is what an easy-to-use manual transmission it is. Clutch engagement is right where you expect it to be, the gearshift is precise and nicely weighted (and is designed so that it feels really nice to the touch), and the gearing is elastic enough that you can pull smoothly from a near stop in second or go around a slow corner in third. Altogether, a very good effort by Buick.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
This is my second time driving a manual Regal GS in the last year and even though I knew what to expect I was still surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It may not be as outwardly sporty as some of its competitors but it feels refreshingly lithe and athletic in a way that most of them don't. The engine is punchy and pulls strongly under full throttle but its key characteristic is silky smoothness. I am still a bit put off by the slightly vague shift feel of the six-speed manual but I'm not sure I'd skip it completely, simply because, as Amy noted, it's rare to have a manual transmission option on a Buick.
Overall, the Regal GS is a really lovely car that I would recommend to anyone looking for an entry-level luxury car with a bit of sport.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms