Formally revealed in Los Angeles, the much-anticipated 2012 Buick Regal GS appears fully prepared to deliver on its promise. This high-performance halo sedan retains virtually all of the visual and functional goodness seen on the Buick Regal GS Concept that the automaker introduced at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show last January. With that level of built-in visceral attraction, Buick execs are confident the Regal GS will further strengthen the marque's appeal among a considerably younger group of potential buyers.
To set this modern-day take on the classic "Gran Sport" version apart from its lesser kin, the 2012 Buick Regal GS gets a number of subtle but effective bodywork tweaks. Its bolder front fascia gains supplemental vertical air intakes trimmed in satin-metallic trim while the redrawn rear soft cap adds new quad exhaust outlets -- also done in a satin-metallic finish -- as well as an integrated decklid spoiler. The Regal GS rides slightly closer to the ground than other Regals, and its semi-slammed look is duly emphasized by standard 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 245/40 Goodyear Eagle RSA all-season tires or optional 20-inch rims fitted with 255/35 Pirelli P-Zero performance rubber.
As for the serious go-faster bits, the 2012 Buick Regal GS will use a more potent version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged Ecotec engine that will be used in the soon-to-arrive Regal CXL. In GS guise, this direct-injected four gets revamped electronic controls, higher boost pressure and a bigger, freer-flowing exhaust system that allows it to develop 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, up from the CXL's 220/258 figures. Like the CXL, it can be backed by either a standard six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic. However, in either case, Mike Anderson, Ecotec global chief engineer and program manager, says it will "have the responsiveness and acceleration of a 3.5L V6, while delivering the fuel economy of a 2.0L four." For the record, those EPA city/highway figures are 19/29 mpg and 18/28 mpg, respectively.
Although it will share a four-link independent suspension -- with a torque-steer-quelling High Performance Strut (HiPerStrut) front setup -- and Buicks's multi-mode Interactive Drive Control System (IDCS) with the CXL, the GS steps things up with more aggressive overall basic tuning while adding a third hard-core "GS" setting to the Comfort and Sport choices available in the base IDCS. Selecting "GS" will further sharpen both suspension and steering response. The upgraded IDCS also integrates seamlessly with the car's continuously variable Computer Damping Control and StabilTrak traction/stability systems as well as its GS-spec high-performance anti-lock disc brakes that feature Brembo front calipers.
In keeping with its divisional pedigree, the 2012 Buick Regal GS maintains a full array of luxurious cabin appointments but adds it own unique high-performance enhancements. Black leather upholstery is set off by satin-metallic-finish accents, metal sport pedals and a racing-style flat-bottom sport steering wheel that presides over a dash cluster with gauge illumination that glows white when the "GS" mode is engaged. Both the driver and front passenger sit in 12-way power/heated sport buckets and enjoy tunes from a 320-watt harman/kardon audio system that includes three months of complementary XM Satellite Radio. Other nice touches in the Regal GS mix include bi-xenon HID headlamps, front/rear untrasonic parking assist, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless entry with push-button starting and a 120V power outlet.
The 2012 Buick Regal GS will go on sale during the last half of 2011. Pricing will be announced closer to its arrival in dealerships.