First, we listened to some people talking about the technology, sportiness, and marketing strategy of the Regal GS. While this was informative, we were ready to jump into the Regal GS and really see what was what. We did a full review on the 2011 Buick Regal Turbo last year – find that review here – and we quite liked it. That car was equipped with a 2-liter turbocharged engine pushing 220 horsepower, and if you read the review, we were left wanting more power. At the end of that review, we also hinted at Buick bringing this GS to the American Market.
So what’s so different about the Regal GS over the Regal turbo? You still get a 2.0-liter engine, but this one is pushing 270 horsepower. The people at Buick made a lot of fuss about this being a true twin-scroll turbo, which reduces turbo lag. While the car we drove was an automatic, we still felt that this car had a good amount of lag when putting your foot to the floor. Once that lag time is over, though, the push from this engine is fantastic. It’s not hard for the front-wheel-drive car to screech the tires while pulling away from a stoplight.
Some have complained that this car is front-wheel-drive only instead of all-wheel-drive, but Buick had a good rebuttal for that as well. It features a four-wheel-independent suspension design with a complex High Performance Strut front suspension that allows the car to change how stiff it is. Much like the standard Regal, you have the option to choose how you want this car to behave, only in the GS, you have 3 settings instead of only 2. You start off in a standard, more comfortable setting that allows for more rebound and softer suspension setup. Push this “sport” button on the dash and everything is firmed up a bit and becomes more responsive. Push the “GS” button and you get the full potential from the engine, suspension, and steering.
We were in Dallas so we left the car in comfort mode at first while getting out of downtown. We jumped up on Central Expressway and switched the car into sport. You instantly recognize that the steering is starting to feel a little heavier in your hands and that there’s a bit more urgency in the throttle response. We knew we needed to find some good roads to test the handling of this car, but in our limited time with the GS, we couldn’t travel too far, so we headed to White Rock Lake. The roads around the lake are curvy and smooth, and as long as there isn’t a lot of traffic, or bikes, or policemen around, it’s a great place to test the handling of a car. Once we pulled off the main road, we switched into the holy GS mode. Pushing this car around tight corners and planting your foot to the floor makes you realize how all of a sudden everything starts to make sense. The Regal GS corners flat and puts its power down well. We would still have liked to see the steering be a little heavier or more engaging, but after some time, it was easy to get acclimated.
All in all, I’m extremely happy with the results of the Regal GS. It’s exactly what I was craving after driving the standard Regal turbo. With a price tag of around $38,000, the Regal GS is a big commitment for your average car buyer. This really is a car that you can live with in comfort everyday, and when it’s time to have fun, push that GS button and it’s go time. And when comparing that price to the likes of BMW and Audi – and you can – the Regal GS is actually a bargain.