February 26, 2012
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Like many readers, at this point, I am starting to question the point of the electric assistance in this vehicle. Trunk space is limited considerably, power is theoretically greater (but I am not feeling it0, and the extra cost and complexity just don’t seem worth it for the potential fuel savings.
But I pride myself on being unbiased and objective, so I must weigh some of the advantages. On the highway and “B” roads where I do most of my driving, the Regal eAssist is remarkably quiet, thanks in part to the engine turning less than 1,500 rpm most of the time and under 2,000 even at over 100km/h. Acceleration for “normal” driving is perfectly fine; it is only when you prod the throttle for a quick getaway that you notice that the 2.4-litre engine really isn’t up to the task.
Where the Regal shines is in its suspension tuning and acoustics, for wind, road noise and outside noise are all, for the most part, inaudible. The suspension is perfectly damped, soaking up bumps and holes in stride while offering a comfortable ride out on the open road. This is where you really notice the solidity of the chassis, which feels like it has been milled from a solid block of steel.
Steering and braking are at opposite ends of the performance scale. The steering is nice and weighty and encourages you to attack a twisty road, but the brakes have that typical hybrid numbness that comes with regenerative braking systems — even during a quick stop, I couldn’t feel the brake pads doing much grabbing.
The electric propulsion system is still a mystery to me. I cannot feel it contributing to the car’s performance, and I suppose that is a good thing, but keeping one eye on the system information screen I rarely notice it in action. The auto-stop feature is seamless when coming to a full stop, although, curiously putting the vehicle in park re-starts the engine immediately. (This is usually done so that the driver doesn’t forget to turn the car off before getting out. -Ed)