Buick has always reserved the GS badge for its hottest number. Ask most enthusiasts and the’ll point to the late 60s as the golden age of the Regal GS. These days though, the GS badge adorns a good-looking family liftback that comes in bright red with Recaro sport seats. Can Buick captured the nostalgia and bring the Regal GS into a new age? Can it compete with the performance upstarts or has Buick halfheartedly applied a storied badge to win some younger buyers?
Lets start with the powertrain. Natural aspiration is the only flavor here. It’s a 3.6 liter V6 that produces 310 horsepower and 282 lb-ft of torque. Those aren’t the most impressive numbers, especially when the Toyota Camry can be had with 301 hp, and they are definitely far behind the turbocharged Kia Stinger GT. This is mated to a 9-speed transmission and an all-wheel-drive system. The aforementioned 9 speed transmission is definitely the cars Achilles heel. No paddle shifters, a backwards shift lever for the do-it-yourselfer, and mind-numbingly eco-minded programming make the drive feel lifeless. The thrust is decent, but not as fast as the Stinger. The naturally-aspirated V6 does sound much better than the Singer, though.
The shining star of the Regal GS is how it handles. The steering, suspension, brakes, and even the all-wheel-drive system all work in tandem to make the Regal GS feel every bit more nimble and more engaging than the Stinger. Corners are a no-fuss operation that allows the driver to feel more confident with each passing turn. The Recaro seats keep you in place, and the suspension keeps you level, and the Regal GS just keeps going about its business with no hint of breaking a sweat. Phenomenal brakes also add confidence to the experience. It’s been a while since I drove a car that you could instantly jump in and have fun with, let alone a family hatchback.
The exterior is a great design. Incorporating a lot of the European touches from sister company Vauxhall, the Regal is certainly handsome. We thought the Regal TourX was a great looking car too, but the GS may be even better. However, inside the car is let down with some cheap feeling plastics and a complete lack of a start/stop toggle button left me annoyed because the car is way too overzealous in its application. The technology is all there with an excellent touch screen and all forms of connectivity for your phone. Three distinct driving modes are available; Normal, Sport and GS. GS was the only mode that offered the cornering thrills, so you may want to stick solely to that one. Be wary though, other than a single light on the console, there’s no indication the Regal GS is actually in GS mode. We’d like to see some extra visual cue in the cluster, despite not noticing any large change in fuel economy between the three modes.
Buick has built a competitor here. The handling is class leading, the looks are definitely on point, and the price undercuts the competition as well. Unfortunately, its interior and gearbox hold it back. The Regal GS is a great option and you won’t be sorry when you’re keeping up with some sportscars on a favorite back road near you. The GS name isn’t on top of the world like it once was, but maybe there’s a Stage II coming along in the pipeline if we ask nicely enough? One can dream.
|2019 Buick Regal GS
|Signs and Sounds Package||$945|
|Driver Confidence Package II GS||$1,690|
|As Tested MSRP||$44,115|
Related: Uncrossed: 2018 Buick Regal TourX