During our test-drive of the 2018 Regal GS, Buick took us to Atlanta Motorsports Park and hired stunt drivers to teach us mild-mannered journalists how to do a J-turn. It's an emergency maneuver, also known as a Rockford, in which the car reverses at full speed, spins 180 degrees and takes off in the exact opposite direction from where it was headed. It symbolized perfectly Buick's hopes for the Regal GS, its most ambitious attempt yet at a bona fide American sports sedan. Buick is trying to shake off decades of stigma as a maker of grandpa-spec wafters. Since 2008, it has been rebadging the Opel Insignia, developed by GM's German subsidiary and built in Rüsselsheim, as the Regal. In 2012, Buick revived the Regal GS badge, providing power from a 2.0-liter turbo four, initially at 270 horsepower but then detuned to 259 hp in 2014 as AWD was introduced. Buick had high hopes of challenging the luxury greats, and while the previous Regal GS received good reviews as a genuine sports sedan, it never really caught on in the marketplace. Buick took a risk by redefining the brand, but ultimately, it wasn't quite successful enough to be uttered in the same breath as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. The 2018 Regal GS doubles down on that lofty goal with a better-fleshed-out version of the outgoing car. It returns with improved styling and even more power, courtesy of a naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 generating 310 horsepower and 282 lb-ft of torque. In other words, the new GS is up 40 horses, but down 13 lb-ft with an engine that comes straight from the GM parts bin. Within GM, it is known as the "High Feature" engine, used in everything from Cadillacs to V6 Camaros to the GMC Acadia. Autoblog has knocked this engine on refinement but generally praised its power, so it's a mixed bag. On the Regal GS, though, the drivetrain exhibited a marked improvement on the refinement front. Buick spokesperson Stuart Fowle attributed this to the new nine-speed automatic it's mated to, a quick and smooth-shifting transmission well-programmed to keep the engine at optimal revs. The result deviates quite a bit from the Opel Insignia, which maxes out with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four good for 197 horses and 300 lb-ft. With turbo 2.0-liter fours now the de facto entry-level engine for most luxury carmakers, having the 3.6-liter V6 makes the 2018 Regal GS more distinctive, a bit more American and less of a European copy-paste job than its predecessor. All-wheel drive is now standard on the Regal GS, and it comes with an active twin-clutch system to apportion torque. The system can deliver 100 percent of the available torque to either front or rear wheels, but also direct that twist across the rear axle to either the left or right rear tire depending on conditions. It dials in more rear-wheel bias if either Sport or the more hardcore GS drive mode is selected. Sport and GS modes also tighten …
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|MPG||22 City / 32 Hwy|
|Transmission||9-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||250 @ 5400 rpm|
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