Buick hopes Regal revives Buick’s performance pedigree

Buick hopes Regal revives Buick’s performance pedigree


Rick Kranz
Automotive News | November 12, 2009 – 12:15 am EST

 

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.

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Buick will highlight the Regal’s European-tuned chassis and an optional turbocharged engine and driver-selectable suspension system.
 
 

Engine choices

Two engines are available. A turbocharged, 220-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is optional with an estimated 258 pounds-feet of torque. Fuel economy is estimated at 18 mpg in the city and 29 highway. The turbocharged engine will be available in the third quarter of 2010.

The base engine is a 182-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder with an estimated 172 pounds-feet of torque. Fuel economy is estimated at 20 mpg city and 30 highway.

A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with both engines. A V-6 will not be offered.

“Performance today means not just 0-to-60 but what can you do without draining the tank,” said Jim Federico, a Buick vehicle line executive.

The Regal will be priced and positioned below the LaCrosse, Buick’s flagship sedan. The Lucerne will be discontinued, possibly as early as 2010 or 2011.

The Regal and LaCrosse share General Motors Co.’s global mid-sized vehicle platform. But the Regal is 190.2 inches long, 6.8 inches shorter than the LaCrosse. The Regal’s wheelbase is 107.8 inches, 3.9 inches shorter than LaCrosse’s.

The Regal and LaCrosse do not share sheet metal or glass.

The Regal will be assembled in Russelsheim, Germany, for about 15 months. One model will be offered — the top-of-the-line CLX.

Then assembly will be transferred to North America and a lower-priced Regal model, the CX, added to the range.

The Regal has been sold in China since December. Since then, 64,000 have been sold there, Bierley said.

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The Regal is targeting buyers in their 40s and 50s, especially those who are interested in the Acura TSX, Audi A4 and Volvo S60.
 
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