Growing up it seemed as though it was all about my “Hot Wheels,” riding backwards in the rear-most seat of the family truckster, and watching the Indy 500 on Memorial Day weekend.
Since then, not too much has changed really. Substitute the Daytona 500 for the Indy race, and I hardly ever ride anymore as I am always driving news cars to review, but it is still all about the “hot wheels” and I don’t just mean the kids’ toy.
Sure I have a sizable collection of the little metal cars (including many I owned as a child) but being a “surrogate” grandfather I now have added new models to the collection as I busily keep pulling them from the two new front teeth of baby J.
And yes, I fell in love with the pearl green Hot Wheels Camaro in the Chevy booth at the Detroit Auto Show this year – hey, I just can’t help it.
This past week I took delivery of Buick’s newest offering, the Regal GS, and when they delivered it the conversation went something like this: “Hey, I thought I was supposed to get a Buick this week? What’s this?”
“That’s the new Buick – hot isn’t it?”
Buick has undergone a major renovation in recent years (aka the post-bailout era) with its new lineup set to attract an entirely new generation of customers to the brand.
And this new turbocharged Regal GS? It ain’t no blue-hair bingo hauler. It’s hot wheels, right down to its, well, hot wheels.
Regal is Buick’s new/old midsize model that in recent decades has moved to the sedan platform. That does not mean, however, the new Regal GS is boring or sedate – far from it.
Like other GM products, the Buick Regal benefits from shared architecture with other family brand models, Malibu being the case here. The new Malibu – and now the new Regal – are very good midsize sedan choices, but they lack pizzazz. Buick changes everything right here with the GS.
Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter high output Ecotec four-cylinder engine that belches out some 270hp and 295 lb. ft. of torque, the Regal GS is pitted against the best premium sedans Europe and Japan have to offer in this segment, namely Volvo’s S60, Audi’s A4, Acura’s TSX and so on.
And GS models include more than just a few body trim pieces to enhance its appearance: The sporty Regal gets perhaps the best-looking set of factory rims on the market today. These 20-inch polished alloys are gorgeous and at a mere $700 upgrade totally worth springing for.
The Regal GS launched with a six-speed manual as the sole gearbox offering but now mid-model year an automatic has been added to the blend. Still six gears and (surprisingly) no paddle shifters the auto makes GS a breeze to drive.
There are two buttons on the upper left portion of the center console one needs to pay particular attention to. They control the Interactive Drive Control System and offer Sport and GS modes for enhanced driving experiences. I found myself using the GS mode most often around town although drivers may find themselves never using these buttons as the vehicle does well enough in normal mode.
Some enthusiasts were a bit disappointed GM did not bring the Opel performance version of this vehicle (and its extra horsepower) from Europe but we did not get the GS at the launch of the new Regal so hey, baby steps. There’s always next year.
For now, this Regal GS will have to do and it does nicely thank you. Supportive bucket front seating is still comfy and the car is quiet on the road, even when you stomp the accelerator. Even the GS mode and its stiffer suspension settings still won’t jar your dentures or hairpiece loose.
One thing I question is the choice of having Intellilink technology with satellite radio and touchscreen control over most functions in the vehicle but no navigation system. What’s the thinking here? Given all that this premium level vehicle offers and the fact that most of the necessary technology is already in place, leaving nav out is a bad move.
Pricing for the 2012 Buick Regal GS begins at $34,835 with our tester rolling in at just over 36 grand. Fuel economy is rated at 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.
So while the grandbaby and I won’t be watching a Regal GS pace the Indy 500 this year (perhaps a GNX version will next year?) I will enjoy him playing with my/his Hot Wheels cars during the race as I ruminate over racing stripes or flames for the pedal car we will be getting him in the near future.