IntroductionFor many people, General Motor's decision to keep the Buick brand afloat was a head-scratcher. Promising great new products that would appeal to younger buyers, Buick's most recent wares have been respectable, but nothing eye-opening. To be truly worth mentioning, I thought Buick would have to do something so un-Buick that buyers would have no choice but to take notice. Last year's Regal GS show car was promising, and when the announcement came a few months later that it would be rolling on public roads, my curiosity was piqued. Would Buick actually offer something performance oriented?Today, the proof is in the iron, steel, and rubber. The 2012 Regal GS is clearly designed for the young and the young at heart. Peep these stats: 255-horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque, 2.0-liter turbo 4, 6-speed MANUAL transmission (optional 6-speed auto on the way), front-wheel drive with GM's High Performance Strut suspension (to quell torque steer), Brembo brakes, 19" wheels. Funny, this doesn't sound like grandpa's Buick.
Reservations, I have a few. Front-wheel drive only seems to be a questionable choice. With nearly 300 pound-feet of twist, it seems like it would take a mere toe twitch to overwhelm the front tires, and I find the lack of mention of a Limited-Slip differential suspicious. While I'm pleased to find the three-pedal variant available, it's quite surprising it's the only variant available at launch. Remember the first generation CTS-V that was only offered with a manual? "Underwhelming" comes to mind when I think of sales numbers for that car. Hopefully, buyers buy differently this go-round.
But the real question stands: are U.S. shoppers ready to accept a high-performance Buick? Sure, there's performance heritage in the brand, (Grand National) but it's been years since anything resembling performance has been adorned with a Buick badge. When I think of Buick, I think of grandpa's 2004 Century that he claims is the "last good Buick" with column shift and bench seats. Buick is trying to prove grandpa wrong, but will it work?