The cars we loved.
In The global parts and platform sharing world that we live in, one car can have multiple personalities. GM’s Epsilon II platform is home to cars like the Buick Regal and the Insignia, a name shared by Opel and Vauxhall in Europe. As usual, the model mix overseas more choice than the three model lineup offered by Buick in the States. While we are content with Buick’s top offering, a 270 hp Regal GS, Europeans have even more performance at their disposal with the Vauxhall Insignia VXR SuperSport. The VXR SS has a twin turbo 2.8L V6 that pumps out 325 hp to all four wheels. It even comes as an estate (or wagon if you perfer). By contrast the Regal GS front wheels are propelled by a 2.0 turbo. Fortunately all versions of the Insignia they tend to look alike with only minimal differences to front grilles separating Buick from Vauxhall or Opel. This is great because the Insignia is one handsome car, maybe the best looking post-bankruptcy sedan from GM to date.
The Insignia was launched in 2008 and held considerable promise for GM and its global subsidies. The mid-sized sedan (or large by European standards) was supposed to ignite the segment. To an extent it has. The well laid out interior with its down to business gauges is functionally sporty. The curvatious surfaces are luxurious without being too bling. No one placed more bets on the success of the platform than Buick, who was trying to reinvigorate its stale image in the US. The Regal GS has gone a long way to helping to Buick to reach its image goals. Already a premium or aspirational car in China, the American market Regal exists because Chinese think of Buick like we do of Lexus.
Not that the Regal GS is car with Lexus envy or performance issues. It’s truly a road car with a trick suspension that eliminates torque steer. Buick tuning of the Insignia resulted in the expected smooth Buick ride that’s hushed while providing just enough road feel – much like BMWs typically do. You would have to spend considerable more for a Lexus that delivers the same driving feel. Although four cylinder’s 270 hp falls short of the BMW 335 (or Hyundai Sonata Turbo for that matter), there’s plenty of torque, thanks to the turbo. Its quick 0 to 60 time of well under 7 seconds means that its not likely to get left behind in the dash for lane position on the highway. Red Brembo calipers certainly look the part of a high performance car, especially when mated with the optional low profile summer performance tires. The Regal delivers up to 27 mpg and can run on regular unleaded gas, something that’s not recommended in a 3 Series or A4.
As good as the GS is, Buick could go one step further and bring a version of the Insignia VXR SuperSport here. While a version of Vauxhall VXR8 (the old Pontaic G8) might be more true to the GS nameplate on Buicks of the past, a VXR level car would still pay homage to Buick performance, while offering its US customers a modern, affordable sports sedan with Euro street cred to go head on with BMW and Audi. Think of it: a Buick GS with 2.8L V6 turbo from the VXR SuperSport. Better yet, a more modest version of the V8 in the Vauxhall VXR8 could be Buicks answer to the Dodge Charger.
Of course a Buick with a big V8 and all-wheel would make the Regal something of a Cadillac CTS Type V competitor. That alone is why it may never happen. Had Pontaic still been around, it may have been tempted to supplement its Holden sourced G8 with a mid-sized sedan that was something like the VXR SuperSport. For now the Regal GS is one of the most attractive sedans currently being sold by GM and wins hands down as one of the best s looking sedans of any size sold in America. If the Regal continues to succeed in China, we in America might benefit by Buick having the room to take more chances. What better bet to hedge than reviving the modern muscle heritage of the GS name courtesy of the VXR SuperSport.