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2012 Buick Regal GS Ride and Review by John Heilig +VIDEO

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Buick Regal GS (Photo GM)

SEE ALSO: Buick Buyers Guide
COMPARE: Buick Regal GS V.BMW 3 Series V Hyundai Genesis V Mercedes C-Class

By John Heilig
The Auto Channel


Model: 2012 Buick Regal GS
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4
Horsepower/Torque: 270 hp @ 5,300 rpm/295 lb.-ft. @ 2,400 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 107.8 in.
Length/Width/Height: 190.2 x 73.1 x 58.0 in.
Tires: P255/35R20
Cargo volume: 14.25 cu. ft.
Fuel economy: 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway/20.8 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gal.
Curb weight: 3,710 lbs.
Sticker: $38,650 (includes $860 destination charge and $3,340 in options)

Top 5 Reasons to buy this car

1. Good power
2. Good handling
3. Comfortable
4. Solid
5. Doesn't fit the Buick demographic

My Bottom Line: This is not your grandfather's Buick. The Buick Regal GS has a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed manual transmission. Other than the fact that it isn't aimed at the traditional Buick buyer, it's a fun car to drive.

OhmaGod, it this really a Buick? First, it isn't gray. Second, it has a manual transmission. Third, it isn't a boat. The Regal GS breaks a lot of Buick stereotypes.

While the Buick Regal GS is Buick comfortable, all the other features seem to fly in the face of what you'd expect from Buick. The engine and gearbox (both German-made) typify this, and give a hint as to the car's Opel origins.

Whatever, the GS is a BMW 3-Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class fighter. The size is about right and the performance fits right in.

Power with the turbocharged four is very good. Howeve3r, economy was less than what I expected at 20.8 mpg. As a comparison, my wife's 2001 Buick LeSabre (gray, automatic transmission, boat-like) gets more than 30 mpg on the highway and averages 20 mpg around town with a 3.8- liter V6.

The 6-speed manual transmission is nice. We kept the car in 5th a lot, but 6th is quieter. The engine is very quiet.

But, the Regal is a fun car to drive. It is a nice size at just under 16 feet long. The engine and transmission work well together when you're trying to extract performance from the car. The accelerator and brake pedals are ideally positioned for heel and toe drivng.

Watch the Buick Regal GS with HiPer strut system

The front seats are comfortable and offer good side support. This is needed because the Regal handles so well. The rear seats are flat and fold 60/40 to increase trunk capacity. There is a high "transmission hump" that makes the Regal a four-seater, no matter what Buick says.

I liked the overall interior layout. This, despite an overly busy center stack that has 40 knobs and buttons for the navi system, the HVAC system and the audio system. Sometimes it' shard to decipher which is for what, but I'm sure an owner with more time to understand what's going on will understand it.

Add a console-mounted master control with five buttons and one knob and making everything work properly can be daunting.

This is a manual transmission-equipped car, and I like to use the parking brake in these cars. On the Regal, the parking brake is electronic, with the switch located on the center console. Is it up to set the brakes or down? Up or down to release them (I discovered that's automatic)?

Creature comforts include sun visors that have extensions, a nice glove box, an oddly shaped arm rest/center console that is small but has the USB inside, four assist handles, a 120V outlet in the rear, and instruments that are light blue on black with red pointers.

Overall, the Buick Regal GS is a good package. I just wish the fuel economy was better.

2012 The Auto Page