Photos don’t really do the Buick Regal Turbo justice. It’s got really alluring lines that connect the whole car and make it seem really cute and playful. It might be the best executed sedan design in the entire GM lineup – and yes, I’m including the Cadillac range in that. So kudos to Buick for designing a properly attractive little sedan.
I say little, but this is a mid-size sedan. In what can only be described as a complete shock, GM has actually built a car that looks smaller than it is.
After driving it for a week, I feel the Regal might well become one of those hidden gems down the track. It hits a great spot between the regular Chevrolet lineup and the pricey Cadillac range, representing an alternative to the smaller and sportier ATS that doesn’t give up much in performance or luxury.
This twin-scrolled turbo-four ekes 259 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque from 2.0L of force-fed displacement in a refined and strong engine. From go to woah the engine pulls like a train, applying the sort of confident, burly strength to the road you might expect from a much larger engine with a few more cylinders.
The all-wheel-drive powertrain keeps the power in check and the six-speed automatic is well matched to the rest of the motivational unit. I’d prefer shorter ratios to really keep the Regal feeling alive. If you like a quiet, consistent, fatherly presence from your drivetrain this setup will make you feel warm and happy all day long.
On the highway it is unhurried and fuss-free, pulling out to pass with nary a concern and no disruption to the smoothness of the drivetrain. It’s a great engine and a great package. Even the fuel ratings are solid at 12.4/8.7 L/100 km city/highway according to the new Canadian five-cycle testing methods. I finished the week of 90 percent city driving on 12.2 L/100 km.
Curiously I didn’t find any of the issues I found with the gearbox in the ATS, but I need to point out that this one also has the sequential tranny set the wrong way (forward should be down guys, seriously!) and also has no paddle shifters.
So why no issues with this one? Honestly it might be because the smaller, sharper ATS is marketed and feels like a sportier sedan than the Regal, so I tried to drive it harder. The Buick I really didn’t push.
The ATS had sharper steering and better feedback through both the wheel and the brake pedal, as well as a chassis that felt more alive. The Regal feels really capable, but in a much more understated way. The steering is precise enough for a car in this class but lacks communication. The brake pedal likewise.
It’s a slightly detuned execution when compared to the ATS. It rides about the same as an ATS over bumps in the road, with a little suspension noise but a quick recovery. On the highways the Regal could be softer, but is well within acceptable limits.