Buick has officially pulled the wraps off of its new Regal, and as expected, the upcoming mid-size front-driver is a sophisticated package that brings its own American character to a platform that began as the award-winning Opel Insignia and has since spawned a Regal variation for the Chinese market, as well. Arriving in the second quarter of next year, the new 2011 Regal aims to put its crisply tailored styling and Euro-flavored dynamic sensibilities directly on the line against prime rivals like the Acura TSX, Mazda6, Volkswagen Passat and Volvo S60. Susan Docherty, general manager of Buick GMC, claims the new Regal "is like nothing you've ever experienced from this brand." Initially, the Regal will be offered only in a premium-level CXL trim, but at least one other variation is due to join the lineup in 2012 when production shifts from Opel's Russelsheim, Germany facility to the U.S.

Inside, Buick's newest model borrows various stylistic cues for its look and feel from the Enclave and LaCrosse but embellishes them with an added sporting flourish. Highlighting the CXL's standard feature mix are more elegant trim accents, standard leather upholstery, deeply bolstered heated power front seats, dual-zone auto climate control, OnStar, XM Satellite Radio and Bluetooth connectivity and front/front-side/side-curtain airbags while navigation a Harman-Kardon audio upgrade with a 10-gig music hard drive and USB port and rear-seat thorax airbags are among its key options.

At the start of production, the Regal's sole engine will be the same 2.4-liter naturally aspirated Ecotec four used in the LaCrosse. Matching direct fuel injection with variable valve timing, this high-tech all-aluminum motivator will develop an identical 182 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft of torque but promises even better responsiveness when fitted in the slightly smaller, lighter Regal. Later in the summer, an optional turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec four is due to join the lineup. Similar to the base engine, this force-fed variation will make 220 horses and 258 lb.-ft of torque. Both fours will be paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and Buick says it expects the 2.4 liter to earn 20/30 mpg city/highway EPA numbers and anticipates the 2.0T to net 18/29 mpg numbers. When -- or whether -- we'll see the potent turbo V6 engine and all-wheel-drive system available on the Opel Insignia OPC remains TBD.

Based on GM's superb Epsilon II mid-size platform architecture, the Regal promises to be one of the best-handling Buicks ever built. The Euro-tuned suspension with MacPherson strut up front and multilink rear setup will be bolstered by StabiliTrak stability/traction control and anti-lock disc brakes on all models. Those with the turbocharged engine will come with Buick's Interactive Drive Control System (IDCS) that integrates suspension, throttle, transmission and steering responses into Normal, Tour and Sport modes and automatically adapts its real-time behavior to match an individual driver's style. The IDCS system also includes an upgrade from the standard 18-inch wheel/tire package to a 19-inch fitment. No official word on pricing, but expect the new Regal CXL to start somewhere around $25,000 and the turbocharged model to open closer to $27,000.

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