Behind the Wheel: 2018 Buick Regal GS
Credit: Freddy Sherman
Behind the Wheel: 2018 Buick Regal GS
With 310 horsepower, intelligent AWD and some serious sport seats, the 2018 Buick Regal GS is a proud carrier of the brand’s Gran Sport name and performance heritage. For a little under $45K, you get a loaded sports sedan with some impressive performance and luxury features, right down to its (eye-catching) red Brembo performance brake calipers.
With a 0-60 time somewhere around six seconds, it’s fast but not too fast. The intelligent all-wheel-drive works well with the active twin-clutch and it’s a pleasure to drive. Buick’s build quality is also evident with a thick, flat-bottom sport steering wheel and metal pedals, giving the car a very German sports sedan feel. Buick has something called Interactive Drive Control, with a Normal, Sport and GS setting, which controls various functions and dynamics.
Even with the performance modes and manually shift-able transmission, the Regal GS is missing a key feature, paddle shifters. For some reason it has none, so if you do want to shift manually, you need to move the transmission into manual mode and then push up or down to shift. In a car trying to be a sports sedan, it’s a glaring omission and I only say that after driving the Regal GS and having the need to downshift, even in the GS mode. I’ve driven other cars recently with transmissions so sensitive and accurate I didn’t touch the paddle shifters once.
The Regal GS shines here with some state-of-the-art tech. It starts with the engine, a 3.6L, DOHC, VVT V6 with direct injection. It’s connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission, then to the wheels with Buick’s intelligent AWD system and that active twin clutch. The car also has Buick’s response to magnetic ride control, a Continuous Damping Control that is capable of 500 adjustments per second. The GS also has a very nice cohesive, connected infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability standard. You interact with the system via an 8-inch touchscreen. The car is also a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot (a subscription service).
The Regal GS does well here, demonstrating Buick’s new mantra of attainable luxury. This means modern design, luxury and technology, at a reasonable price. The interior is comfortable with very nice fit and finish and the front sport seats are certified back-friendly by German back health organization AGR. You get side blind spot alert, lane change alert and rear cross-traffic alert standard with all the other driver safety and tech goodies (lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, etc.) available as options. A Bose premium sound system, navigation and things like wireless charging are also available as options. I’m a big fan of quiet cars and Buick shines here as well. They feature what they call Quiet Tuning which includes acoustically laminated glass, special wheelwell insulation and sometimes active noise cancellation to ensure a quiet cabin.
There are a lot of cars in this price range and to me, a test drive is necessary as they each have a different feel. The Regal GS does a lot of things well and offers a reasonable performance car experience for let’s say $45K. My test vehicle was $39,070 to start with. It had the Sights and Sounds package (Navigation, Bose premium sound, HD radio) for $945, the Driver Confidence Package #2 (lane keep assist, auto braking, adaptive cruise control) for $1,690, a power moonroof for $1,000 and the Appearance Package (wireless charging, LED headlamps) for $485. Add in the $925 destination charge and you get to $44,510. As a comparison, the 2018 Audi S4 starts at $51K while a BMW 328i AWD is about $35K.
Like other Buick Regal models, the GS is assembled in Germany and known as the Opel Insignia in some other countries (and the Vauxhall Insignia in the UK). Interestingly, the engine is made in the United States and the transmission is made in Mexico. The global nature of today’s cars, from every manufacturer, always surprises me.
Photos by Freddy Sherman
By Freddy Sherman
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