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First Look: Production 2012 Buick Regal GS

New sport sedan designed to build brand momentum - while shifting direction.

by on Nov.04, 2010

Buick will lift the covers, tonight, on the 2012 Buick Regal GS.

Normally found behind their desks at GM headquarters at ungodly early hours, the folks from Buick will be hitting the party scene, this evening, down in Miami.  It’s not for the mojitos.  Buick will be unveiling the latest in its fast-growing line-up, using the hot South Florida club scene to debut the production version of the 2012 Regal GS.

The Grand Sport is designed to bring a more spirited driving experience into what, hard as it might be to believe, is now the fastest-growing automotive brand in the U.S. (and in China. Click Here for more), having posted a sales gain of nearly 40% last month.

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With an exclusive new high-output version of the GM 2.0-liter turbo Ecotec engine, the 2012 Buick Regal GS will make 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and turn 0 to 60 times, GM estimates, in under seven seconds.

The 2012 Buick Regal GS gets exclusive use of the new turbocharged Ecotec 2.0-liter engine.

Buick is a brand normally known for what it euphemistically called a “boulevard ride,” and which critics described as soft and soggy.  Newer models, like the base Regal, are showing a little more spirit, and the brand wants to take things further with the Regal GS with the new Interactive Drive Control System, which allows a driver to electronically tune the suspension and steering settings, choosing standard, sport or GS mode.

The Direct Injection turbocharged Ecotec will be offered, initially, with a six-speed manual, an unusual move for General Motors, never mind Buick, with the six-speed automatic to follow later.

The Regal Grand Sport’s four-wheel disc brakes will feature Brembo front calipers.  Nineteen-inch, 5-Twin Spoke alloy wheels will be standard, with 20s optional.

The modified exterior enhances the sporty appearance of the 2012 Buick Regal GS, with prominent vertical intake slots and a revised grille, up front, while the rear fascia is tweaked to wrap around satin—metallic trapezoidal exhaust pipes.    The overall ride height of the Regal, meanwhile, has been lowered for the GS.

The interior gets a racing-inspired, flat-bottom steering wheel, metal sport pedals and leather-trimmed 12-way sport seats, up front.  The GS interior’s instrument panel is satin-finish trimmed, and the instrument panel glows white when driven in GS mode.

The launch of the GS underscores the dramatic change of direction at Buick.  Going into its bankruptcy, last year, many industry observers argued for the elimination of the long-struggling brand, rather than Pontiac or one of the three other marques dropped or sold under Chapter 11 protection.

GM officials confirmed that Buick survived largely because of its success in China, where it is one of the top brands.  That has helped justify expanding the line-up both in Asia and in the U.S. market, and the new Regal and Regal GS will now be followed by other additions to a brand that has, for the first time in decades, actually begun to connect with the youthful buyers the auto industry normally seeks out.

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