Can Buick capitalize on its performance history from over a generation ago?
That’s the intent of the 2011 Regal, a German-assembled, front-drive sedan that is essentially a rebadged five-passenger Opel Insignia. U.S. sales begin in the second quarter of 2010.
The Regal name was associated with several high-performance models in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
“If there was ever a performance Buick in the last 30 years, it was the Regal,” said Craig Bierley, the brand’s director of product and marketing. “Whether it be a Grand National, a GS, a GNX, it was always our performance brand.”
Buick hopes to capitalize on the Regal’s history and the Insignia’s success. Since it went into production about a year ago, the Opel version of the car has won several awards including European Car of the Year.
What distinguishes the Regal from the Insignia are minor cosmetic changes — essentially Buick’s waterfall grille, the design of the front headlights and some interior trim.
The Regal is the next chapter in Buick’s transformation to rejuvenate the brand and attract younger buyers. The Enclave crossover was first, followed by the LaCrosse sedan. Today, the brand’s average buyer is 70 years old, according to Buick.
The Regal is targeting buyers in their 40s and 50s, especially those who are interested in the Acura TSX, Audi A4 and Volvo S60.
“Delivering performance credentials to the Buick buyer and changing people’s perceptions, that is the role that the Regal plays in spades for us,” Bierley said.
Buick will highlight the Regal’s European-tuned chassis and an optional turbocharged engine and driver-selectable suspension system.
The system has three suspension modes: normal, sport and touring. The four dampers are electronically controlled and adjust to road conditions within milliseconds.
Additionally, the system changes the throttle response, shift pattern and steering effort for each of the modes.