There was a time in the United States which very likely came and went before you were born when automaker Buick stood as the GM brand of choice for the growing upper middle class segment of the population. Fast forward to 2012 where the gap between “upper” and “middle” class is becoming a cavernous gulf and Buick is finding itself with a bit of an identity crisis. Really, how sporty can the new Buick identity become without alienating their core loyal buyers. Truly no new Buick embodies this dangerous tightrope walk more clearly than the 2012 Regal GS sport sedan.
The basic Regal is a smartly styled luxury sedan based on Opel mechanicals that is let down a bit by some underpowered powertrains on more basic trim levels. The 2012 Buick Regal GS, however, is equipped with a 2.0 liter High Output Ecotec Turbocharged 4-cylinder rated at 270 horsepower/295 lb. feet of torque that does suffer from a bit of turbo lag which in our eyes only served to make it feel even faster. You see, there is occasionally a light tug at the wheel of this front drive sedan once boost hits peak so as the driver you have to pay attention. Heaven forbid.
But this isn’t to say that there is no fun to be had behind the wheel of the 2012 Buick Regal GS because you have to be a good driver to extract its most potent grin pheromones. And trust us, if you put this puppy into the Sport mode you will most assuredly smile thanks to the sharpened throttle response, sportier suspension damping and firmer steering.
The 2012 Buick Regal GS is a clear statement of intent from this once aging brand that it intends to do the unthinkable and poach buyers from the youth and performance hungry demographic of the luxury car market. Thanks to donations from GM’s European brand Opel, this Buick has what it takes to compete in most areas with its premium competition albeit mainly at the entry level end of the spectrum. No, the 2012 Buick Regal GS isn’t quite an M3 yet on the road but then it isn’t priced like a BMW, Lexus or Mercedes either.
The Battle with the 2012 Acura TSX V-6 (and 2012 Audi A4 2.0T!)
Essentially what the 2012 Buick Regal GS offers buyers is the performance of European sport sedan at pricing that mimics mid-level Acura models such as the TSX V-6 quite closely. The 2012 Buick Regal GS starts at $35,420 but our tester came with the optional 6-speed auto which is a no-cost option. It would be easy to look at the 2012 Audi A4 2.0T as a direct competitor with the Regal GS but to be honest it isn’t quite as hard edged as the Buick which is much more the sport sedan than a luxury sedan. Sure, the Audi A4 has agile reflexes but when the Regal GS has its turbo on full boost it can show a clean pair of heels to the still admirably quick A4.
In most of the motoring press the Buick Regal GS has been compared mainly with the Acura TSX which is really only truly accurate with the 3.5 liter 280 horsepower V6 engine option under the hood. The TSX is nimble and agile with very communicative steering much like the Regal GS but for those of you out there who prefer easy access to your engine power it is easy to see that the Acura would be easier to live with. There is a joy, however, to be found in working the Regal GS hard enough to get the turbocharger to press you back into the plush, leather clad Buick sport seats. Yes, a Buick can have sport seats.
When you look at the picture honestly, however, if you are looking into buying a Regal GS you no doubt think ahead of the curve and quite frankly, don’t some of the people you know need to be shown up by an ass-kicking Buick? We know you are thinking of someone. And we think in the future there will no doubt be further examples of Buick’s new youthful sportiness but as of now it is really only the bespoke Regal GS which captures the transitioning and quite promising future identity of this historic brand.
What We Loved About the 2012 Buick Regal GS
- The Exterior Styling Was both Upscale and Flashy Making for One Handsome Sport Sedan
- Very Comfortable Sport Front Bucket Seats on GS Model
- Interactive Drive Control System allows You to Dial In How Aggressively You Want to Drive
- The Engine (When the Turbo was on Boost)
What We Loathed About the 2012 Buick Regal GS
- The Engine (During Those Initial Few Seconds of Turbo Lag)
- Dashboard buttons are illogically laid out and Marked