Cynthiana, Kentucky — When we say European style sports sedan, the name Buick oughtn’t spring to mind. Yet. But since the intro of their luxury compact Verano two years ago, Buick has busily been updating its brand. The changes to the 2014 Regal may be as big a departure from the expected as the Verano itself.
It’s a sporty sedan that’s not as quiet the Buick image, the engineers having eschewed noise-cancellation technology. Instead they threw themselves into performance. Four trim-lines including GS, which we’ll talk about tomorrow, share the same powertrain, featuring a gutsy 2.0L turbo four-cylinder engine that’s hugely efficient.
It’s the same basic engine as the massively successful Cadillac ATS. It achieves 259hp, up 39 from last year’s model. Its torque band’s been widened to emit 90% of peak torque—that’s a generous 260lb-ft—at 1,700 to 5,500rpm and full torque from 3,000 to 4,000.
Built in Oshawa, Ontario, this Euro-style power sedan is a responsive bear on the draw. The turbo lag is barely noticeable, but the concomitant snap is remarkable. The Regal handles marvellously. We spent hours zipping about the hilly roads of northern Kentucky. The relative dearth of harsh winter weather leaves an endless black pool table, which the 18” Michelin tires gripped like a Canadian lover on a cold winter night.
The Regal’s snarling new grille and fascia, complemented by the low aggressive stance, hint at the experience behind the wheel. The most athletic of the Buick lineup, it’s still a Buick. That is, it’s a comfortable ride but this is no floating couch. You sense the bends and inclinations of the road. Few reviewers returned to the twisty roads following lunch.
The GM reps had several models on hand for us to try out. The base Regal Turbo is front wheel drive but, new for 2014, you can upgrade to all-wheel for $2,280. That’s not cheap and normally I wouldn’t advocate the expense for city dwellers who rarely need to start their cars on slippery conditions. But it provides a noticeable difference in the feeling of the road. The computer senses then sends power to any wheel that needs it. Again, in a car-to-car comparison on curvy, bendy Kentucky roads, you can’t deny its utility. Imagine it in slippery winter conditions on potholed Canadian roads.
Maybe save the front-wheel drive for the GS—only with it can you get a no-charge six–speed manual transmission. More on that Wednesday.
2014 Buick Regal base price: $33,095
Though a co-owner and former editor of DailyXY, Steven Bochenek is actually an advertising writer who does some journalism on the side. In 2011 he was accepted into the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. His other interests include playing music, long-distance running, skiing and writing in the third person.
Photo courtesy of the author.