I wanted to write this editorial on Thursday night, but decided it was better to wait a few days and see how the dust settled. How would the fans react? Would my emotions on the topic change once I calmed down? The answer is no.
Buick announced the production version of the Regal GS in Miami, Florida last Thursday. It wasn’t without a few surprises. The biggest surprise of which was a lack of all-wheel drive. Most people assumed the 2.8 liter turbo V-6 from the Opel Insignia OPC would not make the trek across the Atlantic. As for the all-wheel drive, that is a different story.
Lets not forget about power output. The 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder will put out 255 horsepower and 295 pound feet to the front wheels (no, that was not a typo). This engine has also done duty in the Chevrolet Cobalt SS, HHR SS, Pontiac Solstice GXP and Saturn Sky Redline. For all of these models you could purchase a $650 factory upgrade at the dealership that would kick things up a notch, pushing out 290 hp and 340 lb-ft, all while keeping your factory warranty. The engine has the potential.
The Regal GS will feature GM’s terrific HiPerStrut front suspension system, which in theory, should curve most of the torque steer which this beast is sure to feature.
So where are the two main problems? Well, it’s a combination of power and drivetrain. The engineers said they did not need all-wheel drive for the Regal GS. Their reasoning was the added weight wasn’t necessary and the power output did not require it. Wait, the power output did not need it? Hey, we stumbled onto the second problem!
It was initially thought that Buick wanted the Regal GS to take on the likes of the BMW 335i and the Audi S4, like the Opel Insignia OPC does in Europe. These power numbers do not put it even close to competing with those vehicles. Zero to sixty is quoted as “under seven seconds.” Are you joking? That’s slower then the Acura TSX V-6. Did I mention the new Hyundai Sonata Turbo has more horsepower and posts better fuel economy? That isn’t even a “sports car.” Don’t even think about getting close to a BMW 335i or Audi S4 in race away from that stop light.
Also high on the disappointment list is the removal of the terrific Recaro seats. The Opel Insignia OPC features them, as did the Regal GS Concept. I sat in them at the Detroit Auto Show last year – those were comfy seats.
Fans on Buick’s Facebook fan page were outraged. Many have claimed how this car just got knocked off their list. I was told by someone that three people in Detroit that were waiting for this car called the dealership and are no longer interested. My own cousin who has a 2002 Audi A6 2.7t was waiting for this car – I had convinced him this might be the replacement. Now? Not so much.
The Twitter community was just as outraged. The hashtag #GSFail was created quite quickly and really spread fast. Enthusiasts across the nation shared their disappointment.
I still remember standing three feet away from Bob Lutz at the Detroit Auto Show last year. I overheard him talking about the Regal GS to a reporter – he was smiling ear to ear, proud of what Buick was transforming into. What I wouldn’t give to hear Bob Lutz’s candid thoughts on how this car turned out.
My garage has a poster in it of the Regal GS concept car from last years auto show season. The car is something I was looking forward to.
The fact that I have not driven the car is not lost on me. Without a question, the car looks the part. In fact, it probably is still fun to drive, but that isn’t the point. The point is the car is not what was expected from the GS. It has been slightly watered down in all the wrong places, and the enthusiasts know it. The GS model is meant to be niche, meaning it is meant for enthusiasts.
Buick had the opportunity to really make a move here. This car could have stood for something, having the potential to truly ignite enthusiasts and maybe even convert a few past Pontiac owners. Now, it is another watered down product we are getting from Europe. In a discussion this weekend with Nick Saporito, I think he said it best: “the car is “good enough” with excuses.”
Sound off in the comments and we are also running a poll over at Motor Authority about whether the Regal GS meets your expectations. Check it out and vote here.