When the Buick Regal GS concept debuted at last January’s Detroit auto show, future production was as safe a bet as you’ll find in the automotive world. Sure enough, this past spring, GM confirmed that the GS would head to showrooms, but released no further details. Now, finally, we’ve got the skinny on the first real performance Buick in a long time.
Staying true to the recent trend, wherein a concept car is nothing more than a production-ready vehicle with really expensive paint and a few exaggerated styling cues, the 2012 Regal GS looks almost identical to the car we saw in Detroit. Basic differences boil down to smaller vertical air intakes on the front fascia, slightly different trapezoidal exhaust finishers in the rear, and Recaro-like front seats in place of the concept’s actual Recaros. But the satin-metallic trim; integrated rear spoiler; rocker panel extensions; Brembo front brake calipers; and big, 20-inch wheels all make the cut for production.
The same uprated direct-injected, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder found in the concept will be the production GS’s powerplant. It’s identical to the turbo 2.0 found in the Regal Turbo, but GM’s engineers have cranked up the boost and reduced backpressure with a larger exhaust, upping its output to (an estimated) 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, increases of 35 and 37. At launch, the GS will be offered solely with a six-speed manual transmission—Save the Manuals!—while a six-speed automatic will be available later. The concept was initially claimed to hit 60 mph in under six seconds, Buick is now tempering its expectations, saying the production car will hit the mile-a-minute mark in “less than seven seconds.” We recently tested an automatic-equipped, 220-hp Regal Turbo to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, and we predict the automatic GS will complete the sprint in 6.7 seconds or so.
While the concept sent power to all four wheels, the real GS will only drive its fronts. Admittedly, we were disappointed at this development, but at least the GS will employ the new HiPer Strut suspension system, which uses a modified MacPherson geometry up front to better maintain negative camber in cornering and reduce torque steer. We’ve sampled a Buick LaCrosse prototype with this system and found it rather impressive. The GS’s ostensibly tighter chassis also will include a 0.4-inch suspension drop all around and an adjustable driving-mode system like the Regal Turbo’s for tuning suspension settings and steering sensitivity. The system’s Standard and Sport programs are carried over, but the Turbo’s softest mode, Touring, is ditched in favor of a unique, super-sporty GS setting. Larger front brakes with Brembo four-piston calipers will hide behind the standard 19-inch wheels with all-season Goodyear Eagles; a 20-inch wheel of the same design wrapped in sticky Pirelli P Zero summer rubber is optional.
The interior of the GS will differ only slightly from those of lesser Regals, adding a special flat-bottomed steering wheel, metal pedals, more-heavily bolstered front seats, the satin-finished trim, and white lighting for the instrument panel when GS mode is engaged. The standard goodies list will include keyless entry and start, a 320-watt Harman/Kardon sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, backup sensors, and xenon headlights.
Thanks to: Car and Driver