Auto Review: Add a Turbo, get a sportier Regal

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Thu., Jun. 2, 2011
- Contributed Photo

It was not that long ago that we visited with the all-new Buick Regal, which is a transplant from GM’s European division and much sportier car compared with its rather floaty predecessor. It’s also a pretty handsome automobile in terms of style, as it got appreciative looks everywhere I drove it, and more than a couple of people were surprised this aggressively-styled sedan was proudly wearing a Buick nameplate. This week we were fortunate enough to snag the just-arrived Regal Turbo, which takes all the excellent attributes of the normally aspirated Regal and injects an additional dose of performance not only under the hood, but in the chassis, as well.

The turbocharged engine is an interesting one, and the turbocharger is so smoothly incorporated into the intake system that you don’t notice a real hit of power when it spools up. Instead, there is just a refined, linear flow of power accessible throughout the rev range. The 2-liter engine also features direct injection technology for both better power delivery and a boost to fuel economy. With 220 horsepower on tap, the idea here is to have a sport sedan that has the power of a V6 but the fuel economy of a four-cylinder. Buick has been successful in this regard, as we were able to accelerate to 60 mph in 7.46 seconds while we saw 24 MPG in a week of mixed driving.

The six-speed automatic transmission shifts crisply and has an easy-to-use manual mode. The Turbo also comes standard with what GM calls an Interactive Drive Control System, which according to the company is designed to “change the personality of the car based on the personality of the driver. It defines the dynamic vehicle state, including acceleration, braking and cornering, to optimize chassis reactions.” Three modes  (Standard, Tour and Sport) can be selected by the driver, and regardless of your choice of setting, the Regal responds to steering inputs quickly (although the feel is a bit light for my tastes). Ride quality is commendably comfortable while delivering excellent control even over nasty, pothole-strewn pavement. StabiliTrak stability control is, of course, standard, and the ABS brakes complete a very well-rounded sporting chassis.

As there’s only one trim level on both the non-turbo and turbo Regals (CXL), standard equipment means excellent leather seating and very luxurious accommodations. While I would prefer larger side bolsters on the front buckets, overall support is good. Instruments are attractive and concise, with a fairly large trip computer in the instrument cluster. Controls are different from typical GM fare (this being a German-based car, after all), but easy to master. The rear seats offer good room, but foot room is limited by a very large driveshaft tunnel (even though this is a front-drive sedan).

The Regal Turbo really does deliver a European-style sport sedan experience in a Buick environment, and is both fun to drive and economical to boot.

The 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo is EPA-rated 18 MPH city/28 highway and has a base price of $28,745. With options, our sticker came to $35,380.

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