Saturday, May 5, 2012

A week with a 2012 Buick Regal GS

Screen shot 2012-04-17 at 8.19.14 PM

First off lets blow out the torches and put the pitch forks down…and yes you, yes you in the back, please stop boiling the tar and tearing up pillows in anticipation of dragging this review through a onslaught of backlash telling me that it’s a pile that should never be allowed to grace the pages of Hot Rod…trust me, unless someone drops in a LSX and bolts it to the Opel Insignia adaptive AWD system it’s never…let me repeat never going to happen.

But now lets get down to the business at hand, reviewing an automobile. In preparation of putting together some thoughts and opinion of the 2012 Buick Regal GS, I first jumped on the Hot Rod Facebook page and asked the question “would you buy a new Buick and why or why not?”

As you can image the feedback was quick and at times a bit pointed, but for better of for worse I gathered the opinions of those who spoke up and sat back and thought to myself what did the Regal do for me?

So here we go…I’ll start off with performance and handling.

The 2012 Buick Regal GS is outfitted with a direct-injected Ecotec 2.0L turbocharged dual-cam engine that pumps out 270 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque – think of it this way, that’s 122 cubic inches that drums up 270 HP. FYI: That’s over 2HP per cubic inch from the assembly line.
Maximum torque is at 2400 rpm and gives the Regal GS the feel of a much faster car when you’re on the freeway driving home and your shooting from lane to lane on your interstate “racetrack”. With the standard six-speed manual you could very easily lay some attractive black marks on your favorite chunk of asphalt.

The usual problem with modern motors is unfortunately part of the car making process in todays market. It’s as ugly as a mud fence and unless you happen to be a professional service technician and have a Snap-On Modis, good luck doing anything other than changing the oil.
That may be the down side, but let me remind you of the upside of these little Ecotec motors. I’ve raced a WRS dirt late modle that has the same long block 2.2 Ecotec engine for 5-seasons running on methanol and nitromethane at close to 7,000 rpms and is still going strong – the point is they’re just about as indestructible as a engine can be.

Once you get going you also have to stop and turn, so lets talk suspension.

Buick was lucky enough to start with a well sorted chassis that was designed and is used in a far more potent european-version called the fore-mentioned Opel Insignia with a 325 HP V6 and AWD. They opted for a driver control system that gives the driver two progressively more advanced settings to choose from. First the Sport-Mode which firms up the ride and gives the driver more feedback. The GS-Mode again increases the amount of rebound and dampening within the suspension settings and gives the Regal a surprisingly firm and controlled ride. All from a company usually paralleled with land-yachts that float from destination to destination.
This is due to the HiPer Strut system that maintains negative camber during cornering and gives the Regal GS the feel of a rear-driver when given a little push in the corners.

Once you’ve pushed the Buick through a few corners you’ll inevitably need to stop and the 4-wheel disc brake system with Brembo four-piston front calipers felt great. I can’t really invision a Regal GS diving into the corkscrew at Laguna Seca, but the powerful brakes were great for “brake checking” tailgaters – that and my daughter laughs her butt off when I do it.

To wrap up my thoughts on the performance side of the Regal GS, I would have to say I was surprisingly happy with the drive. The power and the availability of a 6-speed making the Regal GS a car that will not break new ground on the path of performance sedans, but rather give the new owner something to enjoy on an everyday drive.

Once you’ve got past the performance side of the Regal you find yourself treated to one of the best interiors GM has assembled in a some time. The first and most important thing I look for in a new car is how easy it is to understand and become acclimated with the gizmos and gadgets. No buyer should not be able to slide into their new car and within 15 minutes know where and how to use all the goodies included in their purchase and the Buick Regal GS excelled at this test.

Conclusion: What does it all mean to the average consumer or more importantly, the fans of Hot Rod?

That answer has several different angles to consider from the prospective buyers point of view. First, the regular guy who just wants to drive something from a American company that’s rich with history and might not know exactly how many GS400 4sp’s Buick built in 1969, but does know that it’s better to buy American. This is the target buyer and these owners will be happy from the time they pull off the lot to the next trade-in negotiations. Second is me…what I mean by that is my wife – bless her soul – had no interest in my Project G10 nor does she care to drive cross country without the AC or PS and certainly wants nothing to do with warming up an engine for 10 minutes before her drive to work at 5:45am – this is the car I want to buy her. Comfortable, fun and sporty enough to make her feel like she’s not quite ready for the retirement home and enough fun to keep me more than entertained on runs to the store for milk and bread...and then there is the hard-core reader of Hot Rod, who at this point has already re-lit your torch and is currently sharpening the points on your pitch fork. But wait before you prepare my autoreview journalism crucification, please understand something. There are no more 1970 GSXs being produced, there are no more 1953 Skylark Convertibles parked at the local dealership and the only “new” Grand National I know of is touring with the GM Performance Parts crew every year at various auto events.

My Point?

This 2012 Buick Reagal GS will never replace any Buick performance cars of the “hey-day” of the big block powered street monsters that roamed the drag strips across the country. The Regal GS can however give it’s driver a fun ride with plenty of power, a comfortable and advanced interior and personality to play with when the boat-tail Riviera is at the body-shop and that to me is what truly counts.

No comments:

Post a Comment