What it is: The Regal GS is the tuned-up version of the mid-sized Buick Regal. The good news is that the turbo Buicks are back, and they are fun to drive. Car enthusiasts will remember the mid ‘80s when the Grand Nationals and GNX terrorized drag strips across the country. In modern times, people want luxury with their sportiness and the 2012 Regal GS delivers. The GS is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec engine and produces 270hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and is paired with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. My test model had the manual, which felt great and had a short and accurate throw for rowing through the gears. I can already sense the car enthusiasts’ eyebrows raising in disapproval over my considering a heavy (3,700 lbs.) 4-cylinder FWD car a sports car, and I definitely understand. The lack of rear wheel drive really hurts the true sports appeal, but the Regal GS is still a lot of fun to drive and compares favorable to its competitors like the Acura TSX in performance and for price. Four-cylinder engines are becoming the standard in the entry-level, performance luxury market with even BMW switching to a 240hp I4 in the 2012 328i (rated at only 240hp). One thing I did hear over and over was how fantastic the car looked. The Regal GS gets an exclusive front fascia that looks extremely mean. My test model also had the optional 20-inch wheels ($700), which were a little flashy, but really made the car pop. The interior also gets kudos for having great seats with lots of support and leather that felt really nice. Other options included a special ‘Carbon Black Metallic’ paint job ($195), power sunroof ($1,000) and navigation ($1,145). MPG: 19 city / 27 highway Upsides: Visually appealing, manual transmission offered, lots of fun to drive. Downsides: Front wheel drive, car is a little overweight. Wrap-up: In summary, I think Buick did a great job with this model. Even looking at the car in a performance point of view, 90 percent of customers would be appeased (and they probably wouldn’t believe there is a 4-cylinder under the hood). The car has an awesome drivetrain, but the car would perform much better with a few hundred pounds off of scale. That being said, if you want a V6 and RWD, then GM would love to sell you a Cadillac CTS instead. With that in mind, the Regal GS has carved itself a nice little niche and should sell well if people will take the time to get behind the wheel. Fun Fact: The Buick Regal was one of GM’s longest-produced products starting production in 1973 until taking a brief hiatus from 2005-2010 while the current generation was being created. The car was continuously produced in the Chinese market, however, during the downtime. The new model was introduced in China first, where it sold nearly 80,000 units in 2009 (versus 40,000 units in the U.S. in 2011).

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