Buick has a long history of turbocharged Regals, starting back in 1978 when the first example appeared. That "personal luxury" coupe was one of the first mainstream American products to adopt exhaust-driven turbocharging to recover some of the power lost to downsized engines. Unfortunately, in the era before electronic engine management and fuel injection, those Regals weren't very good. Over the next decade, however, Buick refined these technologies, which led to the formidable GNX, supposedly the quickest production car in the world when it was introduced in 1986.
Fast forward to today and the Regal badge is back. Aside from four wheels and Buick's signature water fall grille, the new Regal has no relationship to the Regals of yore. Unlike the Eighties, when making an American car more "European" meant painting the chrome trim black and stiffening the springs, this sedan was originally developed by General Motors' European operation as the Opel Insignia. As such, it might actually appeal to those considering a BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class. But to really seal the deal, Buick is using the Detroit Auto Show to revive another one of its historic badges: the GS. Learn about the Regal GS after the jump.
Live photos by Sam Abuelsamid / Copyright ©2009 Weblogs, Inc.
At a sneak preview of the Regal GS, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told us in no uncertain terms, "We are officially not announcing this today." What he meant was that the Regal GS in not yet confirmed for production. However, given that most of its components are already in production and the level of detailed information revealed, all indications say that a Regal GS will debut a few months after its lesser siblings hit the streets.
The Regal GS is based directly on the high-performance OPC version of the Opel Insignia, but instead of using the foreigner's 325-horsepower turbocharged V6, Buick is sticking with its four-cylinder-only strategy for the Regal. The GS is powered by a higher output version of the 2.0-liter direct-injected EcoTec four-cylinder that we've come to know and love in numerous GM products over the few years, with the tell-tale dual portholes on either side of its hood indicating its intentions. In this application, powertrain engineers have re-tuned the engine from its original 260 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque to 255 hp and 295 pound-feet. The GS is also equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox... in a Buick! While we tend to favor three-pedal configurations, we're confident that the GS will also be available with a self-shifting option when it arrives in showrooms.
Back in the glory days of the GNX, turbo Regals offered plenty of capability for ramping up velocities. But when it came time to slow down or chang direction... well, when's the last time you saw a tight left-hander or chicane at your local drag strip? Being a true European sport sedan this go-'round, Buick has apparently covered all the bases when it comes to managing kinetic energy.
To convert that forward momentum into thermal energy Buick went with one of the top names in the business: Brembo. The front wheels are equipped with 14-inch cross-drilled rotors and four-pot mono-block calipers... again, on a Buick! Match it all up with 19-inch wheels wearing appropriate rubber and the GS should haul down in a hurry.
The last time a Regal had any serious performance, the tractive effort was handled only by the car's rear axle. Since this new version is a normally front-wheel drive, having any real credibility means adding an all-wheel drive system. Fortunately, the Epsilon II platform has already been engineered for this. Using the latest edition of the Haldex-based torque vectoring system that served duty in the Saab Turbo-X, the Regal should be able to send power to the wheels that need it most and move the car in any direction the driver wants with ease.
Proper control of a performance car also requires a proper working environment for the driver. In the Regal that means a thick-rimmed steering wheel with a flattened bottom. That last bit should help ease getting in and out of the heavily bolstered Recaro thrones. (Hey GM, if a Buick Regal can sport Recaros, when will we get some better seats in the Corvette?) While ensconced, the driver can use an Interactive Drive Control System (IDCS) to select different settings for the throttle response, adaptive damping, steering and shifting (presumably when equipped with an auto-box).
As we said, Maximum Bob made it clear that GM was officially not announcing anything yet. This is technically a concept for the moment – a show car only – but the smiles among GM staffers when talking about the GS, and the fact that the car is already engineered to go, indicates that we'll likely see the Regal GS in dealer showrooms sooner rather than later. We expect it to arrive sometime in 2011 with a price tag somewhere in the mid- to upper-$30K range.
As much as we like what we've seen of the Regal GS, however, it still doesn't help us understand exactly what kind of brand Buick is supposed to be going forward. Perhaps we can contemplate the answer while letting the brakes cool after blasting some back roads... in a Buick!
- 21st-century successor to Buick's Gran Sport heritage
- Bold, sporty design with unique exterior details and an aggressive stance
- High-output Ecotec 2.0L turbocharged engine and six-speed manual transmission
- Adaptive all-wheel-drive system and electronic limited-slip rear differential
- 0-60 in less than 6.0 seconds
- Buick's class-exclusive Interactive Drive Control System
DETROIT – With an estimated 255 turbocharged horsepower (190 kW), a six-speed manual transmission and an advanced, adaptive all-wheel-drive system, the Buick Regal GS show car is a high-tech, high-performance version of the brand's newest sport sedan. It was introduced at the 2010 North American International Auto Show.
The mechanical elements were developed with the aim of delivering a driving experience that is sporting, confidence-inspiring and refined. It has a performance-oriented drivetrain, a lowered body and lower center of gravity. Exterior and interior cues include two additional vertical front air intakes; large, forged aluminum 20-inch wheels and performance tires; a racing-inspired sport steering wheel and metal pedals. Recaro high-performance front seats feature four-way lumbar support and cushion extensions.
"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."
The Regal GS exterior is distinguished by vertical air inlets in the front fascia, as well as unique rocker panels, an integrated rear spoiler, dual exhaust outlets, Olympic White paint and satin metallic accents.
"The idea behind the Regal GS was taking the production model in a more aggressive direction to appeal to performance enthusiasts," said John Cafaro, Buick design director. "But along with its aggressive stance, there's sophisticated style in the design that complements the driving experience."
Inside, the Regal GS varies from the standard Regal by featuring a completely jet black interior, including the pillars and headliner, sport shifter for the six-speed manual transmission and a suede-covered, flat-bottom steering wheel reminiscent of those used in international racing series. The instrument panel glows ice blue when the driver engages the sport mode of the Interactive Drive Control System (IDCS).
Turbocharged AWD performance
Power for the Regal GS comes from a high-output 2.0L Ecotec turbocharged engine with direct-injection technology. It is based on the engine that will be offered on Regal CXL models later this summer, but the engine and turbocharger are tuned to deliver greater boost pressure in the GS. The output is estimated at 255 horsepower (190 kW) and 295 lb.-ft. of torque (400 Nm).
The engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission that directs torque to an adaptive all-wheel-drive system calibrated for performance driving. An electronic, limited-slip rear differential helps ensure the engine's power is distributed effectively during cornering.
The high-performance drivetrain is expected to enable the Regal GS to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds. That performance is complemented by a four-wheel-independent suspension, with a unique High Performance Strut (HiPerStrut) design in front. The HiPerStrut system helps reduce torque steer and maintain negative camber during cornering. This improves ultimate grip levels in dry and wet conditions, as well as improves the direct feel of the road, while isolating undesirable feedback. Behind the wheel the driver experiences reduced torque steer, improved grip and increased cornering power, along with crisper handling, steering precision and feedback.
The Regal GS features a high-performance Brembo brake system with 14 x 1.2-inch (355 x 32 mm) cross-drilled rotors; four-piston, high-strength aluminum calipers, and high-performance pads.
The Regal GS is also equipped with Interactive Drive Control System (IDCS) chassis technology (also offered on Regal CXL models with the 2.0L turbo engine). It delivers enhanced vehicle stability and greater driving safety, while also adapting the driving characteristics of the car to the driver's preferences. The driver selects among three operating modes – normal, sport and GS – that change the suspension settings, throttle response, shift pattern and steering sensitivity through the variable-effort steering system.
Buick is in the midst of a transformation that started with the Enclave luxury crossover and continues with the completely redesigned LaCrosse luxury sedan and Regal sport sedan. Buick is emerging as a modern, premium brand with vehicles characterized by sculpted designs, personal technologies, luxurious interiors and responsive performance. Future new sedans and crossovers are planned and will continue to expand Buick's portfolio both in North America and China. More information can be found at www.buick.com.