THE KING’S SPEECH
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Thu, Mar 10, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
It’s a familiar story: Prince Buick, Duke of York, is thrust upon the throne after Prince Pontiac and Oldsmobile bail. Buick, not used to all of this, turns to Lionel Opel, who transforms its Regal from a reluctant stammerer to a world-class sport sedan of nobility. It’s a crowning achievement for Buick. By Harvey Schwartz General Motors has finally seen the light. Consumers today have a vast array of vehicles in every segment to pick and choose which one is the right one for them. They want quality, convenience, style, a solid build, the latest technological features and the highest levels of safety. The new car lineup from GM exemplifies this notion and goes beyond with economically priced vehicles at the highest plateau. GM is a global automotive manufacturer, like Ford, and has design teams, engineering staffs and factories in Europe where those vehicles sell very well to the Europeans who are used to the highest quality products in their everyday life. The U.S. rebuilt Europe after World War II and it is about time that we started importing vehicles that are designed, engineered and built in Europe to the highest standards.
We just finished my test drive of the all-new 2011 Buick Regal CXL and it was a pleasure and breathe of fresh air to pilot it around Southern California. The Regal has its roots in Germany, where the globally led engineering team created the award-winning Opel Insignia-the 2009 European Car of the Year that has garnered 31 prestigious awards and is the best-selling midsize sedan in Europe. Regal will bring all of Insignia’s award-winning design, technology and European-inspired performance capabilities to the U.S market. The Regal is built in GM’s Russelsheim, Germany factory. What that simply means today that when you purchase a new Regal you are purchasing a highly crafted German automobile and you know what that means-high quality, but at a lower price since it is sold here and the profit stays here. Keeping development costs low also brings more profit to GM to expand its design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities here in the U.S. This isn’t your father’s or grandfather’s Buick any longer.
For 2011, Regal is offered in premium CXL trim only with these items standard: an Ecotec 2.4 liter direct injected in-line 4-cylinder engine that generates 182 horsepower at 6,700 rpm and 172 pound-feet of torque at 4,900 rpm, an optional Ecotec 2.0 liter turbocharged and direct injected engine generating 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque (the turbo-equipped Regal wasn’t in the fleet when we tested ours), a 6-speed automatic transmission with driver-shift control, a 6-speed manual transmission available with the turbocharged Regal. A new item for the Regal is the Interactive Drive Control (an option with the Turbo) which manual or automatic driver - selected suspension settings. The Regal CXL also pampers the occupants with a wide range of amenities; leather/heated 12-way power front seats, Bluetooth, satellite radio, OnStar, and on-and-on. The Regal’s sleek body design blends the sweeping silhouette and proportions of a coupe in a progressive package that suggests motion from all angles. Great attention to detail complements styling, with tailored applications of Buick’s signature design cues, such as the water grille and the select use of chrome trim up front and in the rear. The Regal’s sporty and well-equipped interior builds on the interiors of the Enclave SUV and LaCrosse sedan. Regal’s firm yet comfortable bolstered bucket seats were benchmarked against the top import competitors for comfort and lateral support, while the standard flow-through center console offers plenty of storage for passengers in the front and back.
Smart applications of technology are also hallmarks of the new Regal, including such details as an available multi-function controller on the center console for operation of the audio system, optional navigation system and Bluetooth or OnStar hand’s-free calling. The faceplate for the ‘infotainment’ screen is set at a 30-degree angle to contribute to the car’s flowing interior design. All of the buttons, switches and dials are grouped individually, (climate control, audio, navigation) for easier and more logically use by the driver or front passenger. An all-new sporty, metallic plated, 4-spoke, tilt/telescoping, leather wrapped steering wheel feels perfect in your hands. The instrument cluster is new and features easy to read speedometer and tachometer with ice blue LED backlighting. A new era in Buick design is also seen in the satin metallic, piano black and new Kibo-pattered interior trim found on the dashboard, center console and doors. Kibo is a rich, dark, progressively grained wood that lends an international flair to the Regal. With its 2.4 liter, in-line, four-cylinder engine, the Regal CXL relies on the excellent horsepower-per liter ratio of the Ecotec engine to deliver smart, on-demand performance that is also very efficient. This high-revving engine is very quiet and pulls strong when you put your foot down on the throttle. I was impressed with how well it launched from a standstill. It gets to 60 mph from a standstill in just 7 seconds, which is excellent for a midsize sedan that returns 19 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
The chassis and structural systems were developed in Germany, tested and tuned on the famed Nürburgring racetrack, and gives the Regal the handling and dynamics of a premium European sport sedan. The Regal was also tuned again in Detroit for the fitting of the standard Michelin Pilot MXM4 235/40R18 all-season tires that wrap around the 18X7 alloy, multi-spoke wheels that fill up the flared fenders for an even sportier look. It gives the Regal a quiet, refined ride and road manners expected of a Buick. The specifically calibrated, hydraulic, power-assisted rack & pinion steering system is a perfect match for the sport-tuned suspension that is never harsh, especially when traveling over poorly paved roads. It is nicely weighted and very quick and precise when reacting to your inputs. I was impressed how well it managed handling the curving roads in the mountains, and how easily it maneuvered around slow city traffic. The latest-generation, standard StabiliTrak, ABS and Traction control systems keep you on your chosen path and keep understeer when cornering to a minimum. The new Regal is an attractive, well equipped sedan that does very well in the performance department despite (because of?) the high tech, efficient 4 cylinder engine under the hood. Not so long ago, it was almost a mantra in Detroit that, “... Americans won’t drive a car with a ‘4 banger’ …”. As gas edges back up to the $4.00/gal neighborhood, we will see whether or not that is true.
© Words and picture by Harvey Schwartz SUMMARY JUDGMENT This new Regal speaks volumes for the new General Motors. For more information about Buick products, go to www.buick.com For more information about Harvey’s photography, click here SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2011 Buick Regal CXL Price: $26,245.00 base/$29,785.00 as tested with destination charge EPA fuel economy rating: 19mpg/city, 30mpg/highway
Engine: 2.4 liter, all-aluminum, DOHC, direct injected in-line four-cylinder Horsepower: 182 at 6,700 rpm Torque: 172 pound-feet at 4,900 rpm Transmission: 6-speed automatic with driver shift control Drive configuration: Front engine/front-wheel drive Front suspension: Independent, MacPherson strut dual path mountings with sport-tuned coil springs, gas-charged shocks, a hollow stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Independent, four-links, sport-tuned coil springs, gas-charged shocks, hollow stabilizer bar Wheels/tires: 18X7 alloy multi-spoke wheels, Michelin Pilot 235/50R18 MXM4 all-season tires Brakes: Front: 11.7-inch vented discs/single-piston calipers Rear: 11.5-inch solid discs/single-piston calipers ABS, BA, StabiliTrak, Traction Control Dimensions Overall length: 190.2 in.| Overall width: 73.1in. Overall height: 58.4 in. Curb weight: 3,525 lbs.