Regal will first be offered in premium CXL trim only. Other trim levels come in 2012.
Buick is taking an Opel Insignia sport sedan, adding the existing Chinese grille and Regal badges and bringing it to America during the second quarter of next year.
For the first 15 months of sale, Regal will be imported from Rüsselsheim, Germany, before a yet unspecified North American assembly site comes on stream.
There are no plans to import the Regal from China, where it is also currently made, with more than 64,000 in sales since production started last December.
Later today in Los Angeles, an estimated 600 Buick owners and potential customers culled from German and Japanese sport sedan owners will have the chance to test-drive the top of the line CXL versions of the mid-size car.
With fenders flared to wrap around the tires, it’s a common look not used in recent Buicks.
The last time Buick tried this with a rebadged Saturn hybrid, reaction was so negative that Buick canceled the program it had just announced a fortnight or so before.
This time around – “kissing the dragon,” marketing slang for talking to breathing customers instead of idealized, fictional ones – might not be so bad since the Opel is universally acclaimed as a solid product.
So out in la-la land where GM is a mere footnote to sales tables, “intenders” will get a shot at the performance-oriented, front-wheel-drive CXL. They will test, what could be weeks or months ahead of the media, a sport model with an optional 2-liter, direct injected four-cylinder engine that is said to provide more power than Japanese V6 engines in competitors.
Preliminary ratings here of 220 horsepower (164 kW) and 258 pound feet of torque should make this CSX a mid-seven-second zero-to-6o mph car. The 2.0L turbo uses a twin-scroll turbocharger that is said to build power quickly at lower rpms. Would they dare badge it Gran Sport, nailhead fans?
All these assertions await test drives to prove their veracity. However, previous personal experience with Jim Federico, the chief engineer on this program, who cheerfully explained the car to me, has shown that his predicted numbers are accurate. It’s too bad that this turbo option will not appear until late-summer 2010.