Car Tips

New Regal GS is not your grandfather's Buick

Saturday, December 10, 2011

At first glance, the compact four-door Regal GS doesn't look like anything special. But when the pedal hits the metal, its distinct persona comes alive.

The Regal GS is a high-performance version of the standard Regal. Under the hood is a turbocharged four cylinder, making a staggering 270 horsepower.

There are a couple of visual giveaways compared to the regular Regal.

First up are the huge optional 20-inch wheels with performance tire. Nineteens are standard. Behind those big wheels are big brakes to slow this quick car down in a big hurry.

You'll also find a subtle GS badge on the decklid and one on the dash.

But nothing else inside screams performance, except three pedals and numbers on top of the shift knob. Six speeds manually shifted to make use of the engine's power. If you want an automatic, you'll have to wait until mid-year.

But hey, it's a performance car so the manual is right at home.

You may be scratching your head a bit at the thought of a high-performance Buick. After all, Chevrolet is the GM division with the hot models like the Camaro and the Corvette. Well, there's actually a bit of history to Buick and hot turbo models.

In the late 1970s, there were only a handful of turbo cars in showrooms. The Buick Regal was one of them.

The 1980s brought even more powerful turbo Buicks, culminating with the mighty GNX of 1987. It was an instant legend, and could leave most other cars in its dust.

Today's sensibilities mean that gas mileage is good for the GS at 19 city and 27 highway. Drive it sedately and the Regal GS can be a fuel miser.

It can also give a pretty stiff ride, especially for a Buick. That's the flip side of good handling.

The Regal GS doesn't scream performance, it whispers it. At least until you floor the gas pedal. Then this euro-inspired sport sedan makes itself known by showing traffic its taillights.

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