We knew it was coming. Today Buick unveiled the 2018 Regal GS, the performance version of the midsize Regal Sportback hatchback, which goes on sale later this year. The GS gets a new V-6 and a starting price of $39,990.
For 2018, Buick drops the Regal sedan for two new body types: the Regal Sportback hatchback styled to look like a coupe and the Regal TourX wagon. The new Regal is based on the Opel Insignia and will be imported from Rüsselsheim, Germany, with the decision to stop making Regals in Oshawa, Canada.
Like the regular Regal Sportback (that starts at $25,915, which is $2,000 less than the outgoing model), the GS has GM’s new nine-speed automatic transmission and there is no manual transmission offered.
But the GS discards the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine for a 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 that generates 310 horsepower and 282 lb-ft of torque. It has cylinder deactivation and start/stop technology.
While others are dropping V-6s in the mid-size car segment, “I felt the GS should have a different powertrain,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president, Global Buick and GMC. “We had the opportunity to do it. I wanted to add more performance, make it more authentic,” he said, which meant the need for more horsepower than the four-cylinder could deliver. “We wanted a halo model and to be a halo you have to do it properly.”
Conversely, there are no current plans for a hybrid Regal and it was never a consideration for the performance GS.
The GS also has standard all-wheel drive with an active twin clutch. For a smoother ride, the car has second-generation Continuous Damping Control and Interactive Drive Control to tailor the dynamics by choosing the standard setting or ramping up response with the GS and sport modes. The regular Regal Sportback only has a normal mode.
Fronting the GS is the trademark Buick waterfall grille, but it is also distinguished by unique front and rear fascias, side skirts, a special rear spoiler, and optional full LED headlights. There are standard Brembo brakes, a sport-tuned exhaust, standard 19-inch wheels, a flat-bottom heated steering wheel, and metal pedals.
Inside are new heated and cooled massaging performance seats. A color head-up display is optional. For infotainment, there is an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and an 8.0-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster as standard equipment.
On the safety side, the optional Driver Confidence II package includes front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, forward collision alert, and adaptive cruise control with forward automatic braking.
“The new Regal GS is in the sweet spot of the market,” said Aldred. He called it more refined and luxurious while still offering value with features such as all-wheel drive. He expects the GS to account for about 10 percent of Regal sales in the U.S. The car will also be sold in Canada but not Mexico. A version for China will not have a V-6.
The TourX wagon launches with a small volume of high-end trims later this year. The full range will be in showrooms in February 2018 with a starting price of $29,995, competing against the Subaru Outback, Volvo V60 Cross Country, the Audi A4 Allroad, and the BMW 3 Series Sport Wagon. The wagon will be sold in the U.S. but not Canada or Mexico. Unlike the hatch, the wagon has an eight-speed transmission but the nine-speed is expected in the next model year as General Motors continues to roll out the new transmission across its large front-drive portfolio. All-wheel drive is standard. There are no plans for a GS version of the TourX, Aldred said. The wagon is higher so does not handle as well as the sport hatch and he sees a performance wagon as a “niche in a niche in a niche” in the U.S.
Duncan said pricing the regular Sportback below the outgoing model is to retain Verano buyers with the discontinuation of the lower-priced car. “It’s important to keep an attainable luxury position.”
The Regal GS is the last of eight new vehicles for Buick since the Cascada convertible in January 2016.