The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2013 Buick Regal GS Review By Steve Purdy

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Steve Purdy
Michigan Bureau

First impressions are both telling and often amazingly accurate.

We picked up this striking red Regal GS on a dark and cold winter night at the airport parking lot. As I climbed in and pushed the start button with my foot on the brake there was no response. I realized, with great enthusiasm, that I actually needed to depress the clutch. Yes, it had a manual transmission. Surprise.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By the time I pulled out of the parking spot and up to the shack where my pretty blonde awaited I already had a favorable impression of the Regal’s ergonomics as well. The exceptionally light and smooth take-up of the clutch, light but precise steering, instantly understood controls, a shifter that felt mechanical rather than cable-actuated, and a fat, fistful of a steering wheel impressed me right off the bat. Great ergonomics.

As she climbed into the passenger seat she gushed about the visual drama of the GS’s front view, though she had only seen it in the funky light of the parking lot. The Crystal Red paint along with the gaping, vertical vents in the fascia and the profile of the car made a fine impression, indeed. With bold styling cues and a recognizable design language, anyone who is modestly knowledgeable about cars will not mistake it for anything other than a Buick.

Based on the Opel Invecta, a mid-size sporty sedan by GM of Europe, the Regal GS fits into the Buick lineup between the compact Verano and the luxurious, larger LaCrosse. With front-wheel drive only, it comes with a variety of powertrains including a mild hybrid, and in a variety of trim levels with prices beginning at just about 29 grand. Unlike some earlier Opel products that were poorly Americanized and imported for Saturn, this Opel is well thought out. I found no niggles with the Regal to annoy me, as I had with the Saturns.

GS means “Gran Sport,” and that means performance. That moniker goes way back in Buick history to the earliest muscle cars of the 1960s. One of the few cars worth a second look made in the late 1980s and early 1990s by GM was the Gran Sport of its day, with a 240 horsepower version of the trusty 3.8-liter V6. GM respects that heritage with this new GS.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Interior design is laid out conventionally and is reasonably well thought out – a good thing, by the way, since we hate to search for functions that ought to be easily accessed. That was a central problem with some other Opal-based products. Fit, finish and materials are good but not exceptional in this price range. The swooping style conveys a gratifyingly artful impression without being garish.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

We found the Regal GS roomy and comfortable inside. The sport front seats have plenty of lateral support allowing us to thrash the car through corners without sliding our butts out of the seats. Our only rear seat passengers this week, not big people by any means, said they were comfortable back there as well. Cargo area is a decent 14.25 cubic feet and interior volume is about average for this size of car. The low, sporty roof line will have some taller folks bumping their heads getting into and out of both front and rear seats.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Our new Oshawa, Ontario-built Regal GS is powered by GM’s 2.0-liter Ecotec turbo 4-cylinder with an impressive 270 horsepower and even more impressive 295 pound-feet or torque good for a 0-to-60 time of just under 7 seconds. It really felt even faster than that to me. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard with the GS and is optional in the lesser turbo models. The EPA rates this combination at 19 mpg in the city, 27 on the highway and 22 combined on regular fuel. With an 18.5-gallon fuel tank we have a cruising range well over 500 miles.

With a base price of $34,980 it comes with navigation, Brembo brakes, sport-tuned suspension, special exterior and interior trim elements, sport front seats, and optional 20-inch wheels shod with performance tires. Our test car came with a power sunroof for $1,000, an upgraded audio and navigation system with 7-inch touch screen at $895, the aforementioned 20-inch polished alloy wheels costing $700 and the custom red paint job for $325. Bottom line on our sticker, with the $885 destination charge was $38,785. Now, compare that to other sporty small sedans in that same price range and you’ll find many contenders. So compare carefully.

GM’s new car warranty covers the Regal GS for 4 years or 50,000 miles and the powertrain for 6 years or 70,000 miles.

This Regal GS in one of the most gratifying GM products since the Holden-based Pontiac G-8. As we try to downsize our luxury and sport sedans while keeping the ambiance and image they were meant to purvey, the Regal GS meets those expectations well.

And, by the way, we hear that a station wagon version of the Regal may be on the way soon. So, stay tuned.

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved