The GS is the sporty standout of the Buick Regal lineup, with sharp looks, a 310-hp V-6 engine, and standard all-wheel drive with torque vectoring. Upgraded brakes and an adaptive suspension make for crisp handling, and the nine-speed automatic shifts quickly and smoothly. Heated and ventilated front seats with massage are standard. The Regal GS also has a practical trick up its sleeve: like the Regal Sportback, it’s a hatchback, so it has lots more cargo space than the sedans it competes with.
Fifty-three years ago, Buick introduced the Riviera and Skylark Gran Sports to the world, packing big Nailhead V-8s and more style than just about anything else General Motors built at the time. By 1970, the zenith of the muscle-car era, the 455-cubic-inch GSX, wearing a wild stripe package and a distinctly un-Buick-like rear spoiler, was running quarter-miles deep in the 13s. That doesn’t sound like much today, when a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will punch through the quarter in 11.7, but it’s worth remembering that the tires of the era were about as sticky as a curling stone sliding on Buckyballs.
The GS badge floated in and out of the Buick lineup over the years, having most recently been applied to a reworked Opel Insignia with a 259-hp turbo inline-four that was available with a six-speed manual transmission. The revivified Regal GS wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t exactly heir to the mighty GSX or its honkin’-turbo–V-6 GNX descendant. First and foremost, it was a modern Buick that did modern Buick things—which largely meant trading thrills for serenity. Today’s new 2018 Buick Regal GS is more in the vein of its predecessor than its lairy forebears, but there are some important differences.
First of all, the new GS version of the Regal Sportback—which, again, essentially is a rebadged Opel Insignia—is a legit looker. Sure, it cribs its overall four-door-hatch shape from the BMW 4-series Gran Coupe and the Audi A5 Sportback, but it’s at least as attractive as either. The GS’s all-wheel-drive-only drivetrain also puts it squarely in Ingolstadt’s horse race, in which its 3.6-liter V-6 gives it a distinct horsepower advantage over the A5’s turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four. The Buick’s engine puts out 310 horsepower to the A5’s 252, and it dishes out 282 lb-ft of torque compared with the A5’s 273 lb-ft.
On the winding byways of northern Georgia where we drove the GS, it built speed deceptively, cranking along at elevated velocities as we noted the absence of invasive Kudzu along the roadside. They’ve been spraying the stuff, apparently, stacking the dead vines a couple of stories high in some places. Our copy of R.E.M.’s Murmur suddenly seems out of time. The Buick is confidence-inspiring enough to allow this sort of at-speed, side-glance sightseeing. The steering, regrettably, is merely rheostatic, transmitting nothing of the road to the driver’s hands. Pressing the Sport or GS driving-mode buttons (the latter is Buick’s take on a Sport Plus mode) only adds weight. It’s a six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other proposition.
The 2018 Buick Regal offers outstanding style and technology both inside and out. See interior & exterior photos. 2018 Buick Regal New features complemented by a lower starting price and streamlined packages. The mid-size 2018 Buick Regal offers a complete lineup with a wide variety of finishes and features, two conventional engines.
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