About 10 seconds after Buick confirmed the 2011 Regal sedan for production in the U.S. back in November, many in the industry began speculating on a high-performance, sport-tuned variant. With the Opel Insignia OPC sitting a few thousand miles across the Atlantic Ocean from us, who wouldn't yearn for a Buick-badged sports car to evoke memories of legendary nameplates like the Grand National and Gran Sport. Ahead of the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week, Buick took the wraps off its coolest car since Ronald Reagan was the President, the Buick Regal GS.
The Buick Regal GS will not only be a statement car for Buick, but also for those who have been clamoring for European sports cars from domestic automakers. To these people, Buick, and its all-new Regal GS, says 'Put up or shut up!' While the most recent breed of Opel-turned-Saturn cars were hardly enthusiastic vehicles, everything about the Regal GS screams sports sedan such as a turbocharged, direct-injected engine, a six-speed manual transmission, all-wheel drive and a sport-tuned suspension. What more does it need to offer: a stylish design, a powerful engine or a sporty interior? Check, check and check!
The only design elements that differentiate the Regal GS from the Insignia OPC are the Buick-signature chrome waterfall grille and the integrated hood vents. As proof of the minor differences between these two cars, one of the images released by General Motors in the press release is actually an altered picture released last year of the Insignia OPC. While the styling of the upcoming 2011 Regal is probably only outdone by the recently introduced 2010 Buick LaCrosse, the Regal GS kicks things up a notch with a mean-looking body kit and a massive set of 20-inch wheels.
Buick's first order of business to change the look of the new Regal sedan for properly wear the historical GS badge was to replace the front and rear fascias with a look more deserving of something going up against a BMW 3 Series or Audi A4.The front fascia not only sits lower than the base Regal, but it also features comically large air intakes and smaller side vents. The rear view of the car is very similar with a lower rear fascia and reshaped dual exhaust outlets. Completing the aggressive stance, the GS adds unique rocker panels and stylish 20-inch, five V-spoke aluminum wheels. Although Buick only lists Olympic White as the only color the Regal GS will be offered in, it's not clear whether it plans to offer additional shades when production commences.
Providing power for the Regal GS wasn't too hard with an abundance of turbocharged engines lying around following the demise of the Pontiac Solstice GXP and the Saturn Sky Red Line. This is also the same engine that is used in the current Chevrolet Cobalt SS and the Chevrolet HHR SS, but some extra tuning squeezed a little more grunt from the engine. Compared to the existing turbocharged Ecotec, the engine in the Regal GS produces less horsepower (255 compared to 260) but a whopping 35 more lb-ft of torque (295 compared to 260). The only transmission available on the tuned Buick Regal is a proper six-speed manual transmission. Buick claims the Regal GS can accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in less than 6 seconds, which is faster than both Bowtie-branded SS models.
With all that power and torque, the Buick Regal GS needed a way to keep all the rubber in contact with the road, so it went with an adaptive all-wheel drive system that uses an electronic limited-slip rear differential to give the car optimal grip when accelerating and cornering. Buick says that the GS features a stiffened suspension than the regular Regal models with high-performance front struts, but the ride height of the two models remains identical. Up to this point, the specs of the Buick Regal GS sound great, and there are no disappointments with the upgraded braking system either as the car features a performance Brembo brake system that includes enlarged, cross-drilled rotors, four-piston front calipers and performance brake pads.
To match the aggressive exterior and the potent powertrain, Buick went for a total package by giving the Regal GS a mean, blacked-out interior. Except for a small amount of bright accents (on the steering wheel, center console and door panels), the Buick Regal GS is completely murdered out (all black) from the carpet up to the headliner. Further proving that Buick is ready to step up to the plate to take on some real import sport sedans, the Buick Regal GS even offers front seats that are more bolstered and undoubtedly much firmer than most current Buick owners could stand. Even the steering wheel is unique to the Regal GS as it has a flat bottom similar to racecars or performance cars such as the Audi R8 and Volkswagen GTI.
'We designed the Regal GS to explore the appeal of a high-performance variant of the Regal,' said Craig Bierley, product marketing director for Buick. 'Like the Regal, the Regal GS is based on the award-winning Opel Insignia, and we believe it will reinvigorate Buick's storied Gran Sport legacy.'
Buick didn't mention an exact production timeline for the all-new Regal GS, but it has previously stated that the Regal sedan will launch solely with CXL trim level in the second quarter of this year with additional models not being added until the 2012 model year. All this seems very promising for Buick as it aims to take on some big-name cars from BMW, Acura and Audi.