When I was 16, I learned to drive on a Buick Regal. So, I have to say I feel slightly nostalgic about the fact that Buick is (finally) bringing back the Regal moniker. And in such a pretty package, too.
Today, a group of auto journalists gathered at the Chicago Automobile Trade Association for an up-close look at the new midsize sedan and to have a chat with Craig Bierley, product marketing director for Buick.
In addition to sharing a very positive outlook for Buick (strong sales for Enclave and the new LaCrosse), Bierley mentioned that the future of Buick will include a compact sedan, perhaps 1 or 2 more SUVs (including a compact SUV) and some new larger sedan that will eventually (no date or plan in sight) replace the Lucerne.
The new 2011 Regal started production earlier this week in Germany, and will begin making its way to dealerships in the U.S. in the next couple months. Later, production will be moved Stateside, but to get the vehicle in consumer's hands as quickly as possible, production started in the same plant that currently produces Regal's European sibling: the Opel Insignia.
The Insignia, which is the basis for the new Regal, was the Car of the
Year in Europe in 2009 and has been the best selling car in recent
years. Additionally the Regal is currently being sold in China and is
doing quite well. So, justifiably, GM is very excited about this new
"We can't wait for Americans to find out about it," Bierley said.
When it hits dealerships this spring, the Regal will only be available
with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers 182 horsepower and
gets 30 mpg. Give it a couple a months, and the 2.0-liter turbocharged
model with 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque will come our
way. And, for the enthusiasts among you, note: There will be a 6-speed
manual transmission that will be mated to the turbocharged engine. But
that won't be available until August.
Base price for the Regal CXL will be $26,995. And, as Bierley points
out, this is a very well equipped Regal, which includes leather seats,
Bluetooth and iPod connection. Later in the cycle, a new base model
will be introduced with leatherette bolsters and cloth inserts, but it
seems the up-level models will appear first. When the turbocharged
model hits dealers, it will come with a base price of $29,500.
So what about that hot GS show car we saw at the Chicago Auto Show? Is that in the works?
But Bierley said if it does come our way, it would sport a 255
horsepower engine, all-wheel drive, 6-speed manual transmission, Brembo
brakes and sub-6-second 0-to-60 mph times. Personally that seems like
an awful lot of detail for "no plans at this time."
While I wasn't able to drive the Regal just yet. I did get some "seat"
time, and I loved it. The interior is attractive, and I was pleased to
find that I could perfectly adjust the seat for my driving position.
And in my far-forward position, a 6-foot, 7-inch person could sit
behind me with plenty of legroom. Headroom, on the other hand, was a
different story. The sleek coupelike styling kind of hindered that.
After my sneak peak, I can't wait to see the real thing.