Test Drive: 2011 Buick Regal Turbo car test drives reviews luxury cars auto articles buick
2011 Buick Regal Turbo. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Chris Chase

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2011 Buick Regal

When I first tested the new-for-2011 Buick Regal last year, I was impressed by the car’s chassis, but was left wanting more from the base powertrain, a 2.4-litre engine and slow-witted six-speed transmission I found ill-fitted for a vehicle billed as a sport sedan.

The Regal’s “other” engine, added to the option list last fall, is a 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder. It makes 220 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque to the 2.4-litre’s 182 hp and 172 lb.-ft., a relatively small boost in power that makes a world of difference in this car.

To be clear, the Regal’s base engine is not a bad motor. It’s a smooth-running mill whose only fault is that it’s a better fit in a family car than in one GM insists on calling a European-bred sport sedan. The Turbo model, with its uprated motor, fixes most of the problems I had with the lesser model.

Test Drive: 2011 Buick Regal Turbo car test drives reviews luxury cars auto articles buick
Test Drive: 2011 Buick Regal Turbo car test drives reviews luxury cars auto articles buick
2011 Buick Regal Turbo. Click image to enlarge

Starting with the most obvious improvement, the turbocharged motor is a snappy piece with great throttle response, and its generous torque, all of which is available from 2,000 rpm, makes for great off-the-line performance. The motor is smooth, too, and in the absence of the throaty exhaust note that the Regal’s six-cylinder competitors offer, is still no hardship to hear in hard running.

The transmission, the same six-speed automatic used in the base car, gets along better with the turbocharged engine. It’s more responsive here, downshifting promptly when acceleration is called for, and generally behaving more decisively than it did in the 2.4-litre car I drove last year. The manual shift mode is pretty good, too, obeying the driver’s commands in a timely fashion.

The automatic is the standard transmission choice in both cars, but a six-speed manual is available for the Turbo model.

With the 2.0-litre motor, the Regal’s Natural Resources Canada fuel consumption estimates are 11.5/7.0 L/100 km (city/highway); my tester averaged 12.5 L/100 km in the city and 8.9 in about 1,000 km of driving from Ottawa to Toronto and back. That result was disappointing, but I suspect strong winds on both travel days contributed to that surprisingly high number. Last year’s 2.4-litre tester averaged 10.4 L/100 km in a 50/50 split of city and highway driving.

The basic Regal boasts great handling, but the Turbo ups that ante with the addition of the optional Interactive Drive Control system. Choosing Touring mode ramps up the suspension’s roll control for flatter, more balanced cornering, and a Sport setting firms up the ride significantly, reduces power assist to the steering and sharpens the engine and transmission’s responses to the gas pedal.

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