by Roger Biermann
The Buick regal is the European engineered, Opel Insignia-based BMW 3 Series rival for the US. But no 3 Series rival can be complete without a performance variant. The Regal GS is that variant, marking the return of the V6 in a mid-size Buick after a 13 year hiatus. With a new V6 engine, GM-sourced 9-speed transmission, and all-wheel drive, this sportback-only model takes aim squarely at the Audi S5 Sportback as its main competition. The Buick Regal GS will be arriving stateside late in 2017, as a 2018 model, with plenty to offer for buyers seeking a non-traditional alternative.
Based on the standard Buick Regal, interior space is ample, but not class leading. However the Regal GS gets several upgrades in line with its sporting aspirations. Unique high performance sports seats feature a striking design, as well as massage function, heating, and ventilation for the driver and front passenger. Adjustable bolsters, thigh support, and 4-way lumbar support earn the Regal GS the AGR seal of approval for healthier backs.
The Regal GS features a new 8-inch digital, fully customizable gauge cluster similar to Audi’s virtual cockpit, as well as a head-up display with trip, navigation, and speed information displayed in the driver’s line of sight. The Regal GS also features sport pedals, and a new flat bottomed leather steering wheel with perforated leather thumb grips and contrasting stitching. An 8-inch infotainment touch screen features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to keep you connected.
In addition to all-wheel drive, the 2018 Buick Regal GS rides on standard 19-inch alloy wheels and sports suspension. Despite a slightly lower and stiffer ride height, the GS also features Interactive Drive Control, incorporating Buick’s second generation Continuous Damping Control (CDC). CDC is able to adjust the suspension up to 500 times a second to ensure that the ride remains comfortable, yet composed and agile when extra performance is needed.
The intelligent all-wheel drive system not only adds extra grip, but the active twin clutch (the same GKN unit found in the drifty Ford Focus RS) can transfer torque between the rear wheels for genuine mechanical torque vectoring to improve handling. The Regal GS also utilizes Brembo brakes on the front wheels to ensure maximum stopping power, without the potential of brake fade when you’re really enjoying a particularly twisty road.
The Regal GS marks the return of the V6 to mid-size Buicks. The 3.6-liter, naturally aspirated LGX V6 is shared with the Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac ATS, but in this case it boasts detuned outputs of 310 horsepower and 282 lb-ft of torque, and also includes cylinder deactivation. Combined with GM’s 9-speed torque converter automatic – with sadly no shift paddles and no manual available – and all-wheel drive, the Regal GS should easily achieve a sub-6 second 0-60mph sprint. The Regal GS has more power than a Lexus IS350 F-Sport – but is lacking in torque compared to turbocharged options from Audi and BMW.
In addition to the sporty interior and AGR approved ergonomic seats, the Regal GS also boasts unique front and rear sports bumpers, with sportier side skirts and a rear spoiler. A sport tuned exhaust also features as standard to maximize noise from the V6.
An optional heads-up display helps you keep your eyes on the road, with other safety features including the optional Driver Confidence II package which adds lane keep assist with lane departure warning, front pedestrian braking, forward collision alert, and adaptive cruise control. The standard Regal achieves 5-star NHTSA rating and Good IIHS ratings.
Without a turbocharged boost, the Regal GS may be found lacking in performance compared to the Audi S5 Sportback. But against the likes of the Lexus IS350 F-Sport and Acura TLX SH-AWD A-Spec, AWD and torque vectoring should make it an enjoyable and very capable sports sedan.