We want Buick to succeed, and this is how to do it.
As far as we can tell, the entire Buick lineup is made up of of cars that are rebadged versions of some other GM model. This may sound like the sort of thing that helped drive GM into bankruptcy, but Buick is actually building some nice cars. We particularly love the Regal (in performance GS trim), which is based on the European Vauxhall/Opel Insignia. The Regal is an outstanding car, and Buick could make it even better in the next generation by answering our prayers for a wagon variant.
We like the idea of Buick selling European models like the Regal and Cascada, but it is causing a bit of an image problem, at least here in the US. The automaker has addressed this problem with a series of hilarious commercials where old people are surprised by the beauty that is the modern Buick.
We laugh at these commercials because we know that cars like the new Regal aren't actually Buicks, they are Vauxhalls and Opels. We do understand the other reason why Buick would air commercials like this. It has gained a bad reputation in the US for making cars only your grandparents would drive. This reputation is worse than Cadillac's rep as the go-to brand for seniors. In order to fix this issue, Buick has attempted to rebrand itself as a pseudo-luxury car company with a European feel. Some models seem to capture this image more than others, but we think that Buick could completely change public perception with the reintroduction of one special model from its past.
Back in the 1970s, Buick built a model called the Regal, just as it does today. The Regal came with the option of a turbocharged V6 engine that was able to compete with the V8 engines of the time. Then, in 1982, Buick debuted the Regal Grand National. The car was named after the NASCAR Winston Cup Series which Buick had won. The idea was: "What wins on Sunday, sells on Monday." By the time the Regal Grand National went out of production, the top-of-the-line GNX version packed a 3.8-liter V6 with a Garret turbocharger. This engine was underrated at 276 horsepower and many people estimated that output was closer to 300 ponies. We think that Buick is in the perfect position to recapture the GNX's cool factor.
The fifth generation Buick Regal debuted in 2009. Since its introduction, fans of the Grand National have been clamoring for Buick to revive the nameplate. The closest thing that Buick has built is the 270-horsepower GS version, but we still think that there is room for something faster. The sixth generation Regal should debut in 2017 as a 2018 model, and we think that a flagship Grand National version would give Buick the new and youthful image that it has been looking for. Those commercials where people say, "that doesn't look like a Buick," can be killed off. The automaker can finally recapture it's lost mojo, aka coolness, without having to poke fun at itself.
If Buick gave the Regal a Grand National trim with a turbocharged V6 producing around 450 horsepower, it would no longer be viewed as a company that makes boring cars. In Europe, the Insignia VXR/OPC comes with a twin-turbo 2.8-liter V6. We could definitely see Buick being able to offer a new twin-turbo V6 with even more power than the current engine's 321 hp. The current Regal is only sold as a four-door, and we know that the original Grand National was a coupe. However, Buick's most important market is China, where two-door cars don't sell very well. In order to keep Chinese and American consumers happy, we would love to see the Grand National be revived as a coupe-like four-door with AWD.
The current Regal is based on a FWD platform that can also be optioned with AWD, so we doubt that a RWD car would be developed. This is fine with us, because we think that an AWD Grand National would be a performance beast that could keep up with its rivals from Germany. If Buick wants to be taken seriously as a luxury brand, it needs to prove that it can build a capable performance car. We get that a four-door Grand National may take some sales away from the Cadillac ATS-V, but offering it with AWD would be a great way to differentiate it. It would be even cooler if Buick offered a special GNX trim that upped power to around 500 hp, and if it only came in a menacing shade of black.
What we are recommending here is not too much of a stretch. Buick is already developing a new Regal, and offering a Grand National trim would be as simple as doing a little bit of marketing. GM already makes a twin-turbo V6, so it wouldn't be too tough to drop it into a new Buick. Hopefully the folks who run the show over there in Detroit are listening because we just gave them the perfect plan.