A Hot Buick? Yes, the New Regal GS

2012 Buick Regal GS Black Edition

I’ve read a bunch of first-drive reviews of the 2012 Buick Regal GS (GM invited the car media to its Milford test track). Verdict: Nobody found any real flaws. And everyone loved the handling, braking and power, the car’s performance generally, even its appearance.

Now, many car reviewers are an easy sell, some for obvious reasons, but many of these guys are also serious, knowledgeable car enthusiasts. I always thought Marty Padgett of Motor Authority was one of the latter.

He went bananas for the Buick, with particular praise for the engine:

Here, the turbo massage raises output to 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, and the torque number plays a big role in the GS’ happy urgency. It spins out 95 percent of its peak torque from 2300 to 4900 rpm, and the three low gears in the six-speed manual are staged tightly to keep the turbo on boil, and to keep the GS in that band, while the upper gears seek out fuel economy.

The formula works. Buick says the Regal GS manual will hit 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, about the times [sic] promised for a Hyundai Sonata turbo.

Larry Webster (Popular Mechanics) liked the “tightly controlled body motions, little roll in the corners and nicely weighted steering.”

The [Brembo] brakes are simply fantastic, providing a firm pedal with no fade, even after repeated laps on GM’s test track. Also, the sport seats have prominent bolsters, which keep the driver from sliding around during spirited driving.

2012 Buick Regal GSHe wasn’t happy with the 6-speed manual, however, calling it a “lifeless piece” without the proper mechanical feel. Others, however, approved.

Road & Track’s Calvin Kim explained some technical details well, like the Interactive Drive Control that helps the GS keep itself flat in the corners. He had hoped, he said, for all-wheel drive, which was not to be, owing to cost and weight issues. Come on, Calvin, that would be absolute overkill in a car like this.

Other reviewers especially liked the price, $35,310, including destination charge and a long list of standard stuff. TopSpeed showed an interesting table of competing cars, and the GS beats most in power, torque and fuel economy. Competitors include the Acura TSX, the Audi A4 and the Lexus IS 250. And most of these cost more.

Buick is attempting the most difficult thing in the auto biz: a total remake of its image. The Regal GS seems to be the latest and strongest incarnation of that attempt. Now if they could only get rid of the Enclave.

Is Buick on the right path with the Regal GS?

—jgoods

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