Test Drive: 2012 Buick Regal GS

??Buick?s Regal GS: A midsize luxury performance sedan?

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If you happen to have any preconceived notions about what a Buick was, is or should be, based upon past history and experiences, you might want to chuck them into oblivion. In the past, Buick was most often perceived to be a land yacht designed for driver in, or at least entering their Golden years. Only old folks drove Buicks, or so it seemed.

That?s all changed, and for the better, Buick was always a really good car, ranking just below Cadillac in status ? in fact, it was a quality, luxurious ride for folks who couldn?t afford a Cadillac or who didn?t want to appear pretentious in a show of wealth or means. Buick is now a vehicle that wears many hats in terms of appeal and capability.

The Buick arm of General Motors has risen to lofty new heights with the design and production of sporty, youthful models that deliver performance, technology and style in affordable packages.

Recently, in the LaCrosse sedan lineup, a 2012 eASSIST model was introduced in mild hybrid form, delivering enhanced operational economy, without sacrificing performance attributes or luxurious appointments.

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Ever in search of attracting new buyers, the Buick powers that be, determined that the offering of a new midsize luxury performance sedan would be a positive step in that direction. The platform for such a vehicle would be the 2012 Regal GS or Grand Sport.

The new Regal GS is powered not by a big honking V8, or a healthy V6, but by an exclusive, high-output Ecotec 2.0-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, direct injected, turbocharged, inline four-cylinder engine with electronic throttle control and VVTi, capable of generating 270 horsepower at 5,300 rpm while also developing 295 pound feet of torque at 2,400 rpm. The engine resides up front in an East/West orientation and delivers the highest specific output of any production engine that GM has ever offered. It is the most power-dense engine ever certified by the Society of Automotive Engineers at 135 horsepower per liter.? Power is geared to the front wheels via either an F40-6 six-speed manual gearbox or an Aisin AF40 6-speed, transverse, electronically-controlled automatic transmission with overdrive and Driver Shift Control (to be offered mid-model year). A standard?Interactive Drive Control system with Standard (Comfort), Sport and an exclusive GS mode allows drivers to modify suspension settings and steering sensitivity for an enhanced and more spirited driving experience.

?The Regal GS also steps up to the plate with a four-wheel independent suspension featuring a unique High Performance Strut (HiPer Strut) front suspension design that reduces torque steer, while improving road surface adhesion and cornering power. The GS also sits lower than other Regal siblings and rides on standard 19-inch, 5-twin-spoke alloy wheels or on optional 20-inch 5-?Y?-spoke polished alloys shod with summer performance tires.

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Bringing the GS to a halt are power-assisted four-wheel vented discs, with four piston Brembo calipers up front and a single piston caliper out back with ABS and ESC.

In terms of its aesthetic appeal, the GS?s design displays unique body-color front and rear fascias, with the front fascia incorporating prominent, vertical air intake slots accented in a satin-metallic finish. The rear fascia sports a pair of integrated, satin-metallic trapezoidal exhaust outlets. Rocker panel extensions and a rear spoiler add dramatically to the car?s performance persona.

Moving to the inside, the Regal GS serves up exclusive interior appointments, such as a sporty flat-bottom sport steering wheel, standard harman/kardon premium 336-watt, 5.1 Matrix Surround Sound system with nine speakers, Buick IntelliLink (later availability) utilizing Bluetooth or USB to connect the driver?s smart phone to a high-resolution, full-color seven-inch touch screen display radio that enables streaming stereo audio from the phone through services like PANDORA? Internet Radio and Stitcher SmartRadio (available fall 2011). There?s also a GS-specific ebony interior, and there are satin-finish elements on the instrument panel, steering wheel and console. The instrument panel glows white when the driver engages the GS Mode of the Interactive Drive Control System (IDCS). The driver and front passenger seats are heated with 12-way adjustability including four-way lumbar adjustment. Windows are power with express up/down in the front and express down in the rear. Front and rear ultrasonic parking assist is also standard, along with Bi-Xenon HID headlamps with flash-to-pass feature, auto on/off, auto delay and warning buzzer.

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My test 2012 Buick Regal GS sported a Diamond White metallic exterior finish, complemented by a two-tone Charcoal and Black interior. The base price was set at $34,450 while options elevated the final sticker to an estimated $39,000 fully loaded, including Destination and Delivery charges.

SUMMARY: ?The new 2012 Buick Regal GS is a far cry from the Buicks of yesteryear. It is a thoroughly modern, sophisticated, high performance luxury sedan that comes in at under the $40,000 mark while delivering killer good looks that are sure to appeal to both genders as well as to most age groups, especially the younger set. and impressive fuel economy stats ? 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway ? that is unless of course you pilot it in the GS mode most of the time at full throttle.

Techno geeks are sure to fall in love with all the state-of-the-art connectivity features and equipment, and the safety conscious needn?t be forgotten either with all the standard and available features designed to protect occupants before, during and after a crash such as OnStar?s many facets and Stabilitrak electronic stability control system.

Acceleration is considerably more than adequate, surpassing the launch off-the-line prowess of several V6-powered competitive vehicles in its class. The ride quality is superb and the handling characteristics are right up there on a level with more expensive mid-size luxury performance sedans.

In the final analysis, the 2012 Buick Regal GS is definitely Grand and is definitely a Sport. It?s now not only acceptable, but hip and cool to be seen in a Buick – particularly the Regal GS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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