Buick calls the 2018 Regal GS a “sport sedan,” but it’s no more a sedan than a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is a coupe. Based on the Regal Sportback, a 5-door hatchback with a rakish roofline, folding rear seats, and scads of utility, the new Regal GS blends performance, utility, and value in a compelling way.
Given that it is priced from $39,990, you might question my assertion of value. After all, that is a high number for a mainstream midsize car.
What you must keep in mind is that the new Regal is based on the Opel Insignia, a car designed and engineered in Germany, and which is often cross-shopped against models from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. In fact, the Regal GS is built in Germany.
Here is the U.S., an Audi A5 Sportback with all-wheel drive starts at around $43,500 before adding a single option, while a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe with all-wheel drive runs more than $46,000.
Meanwhile, the 2018 Buick Regal GS is less than 40 grand, includes all-wheel drive, and comes with a more powerful engine than either the Audi or the BMW.
310 horses, standard AWD, requisite performance upgrades
The Regal GS is equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 engine generating 310 horsepower and 282 lb.-ft. of torque. Drivers choose between GS and Sport driving modes, and in order to conserve fuel the engine features cylinder deactivation technology and an automatic engine stop/start system.
A 9-speed automatic transmission delivers the power to an active twin-clutch, torque-vectoring AWD system. Additional performance hardware includes a continuous damping control suspension, performance brakes with Brembo front calipers, a sport-tuned dual exhaust system, and 19-inch wheels and tires.
Unique styling details include reworked front and rear fascias, lower bodyside skirts, and a rear spoiler. Naturally, “GS” badges identify the car as such. Color choices are white, black, and shades of gray, unless you want Sport Red.
A luxurious interior with performance cues is standard
Inside, the new Regal GS is equipped with special performance seats wrapped in perforated leather and offering a multitude of power adjustments including lumbar support, thigh support, and side bolstering. Standard equipment includes front seat heating, ventilation, and massage.
The driver’s seat faces a flat-bottom steering wheel, an 8-inch reconfigurable instrumentation display, and a set of metal pedals. A standard Buick IntelliLink infotainment system features an 8-inch display screen, smartphone projection technology including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a free trial of a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot connection.
Announced options include full LED headlights and a Driver Confidence II Package containing a full-color head-up display as well as adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist.
For maximum utility, the Regal GS’s back seat features a 40/20/40-split folding design, making this car perfect for a family trip to the ski resort. Fold all three sections, and cargo capacity expands from 31.5 cu.-ft. to 60.7 cu.-ft.
Buick carves deeper to create a niche for itself
With the redesigned 2018 Buick Regal lineup, the company has apparently decided that it can’t convince people to buy a traditional 4-door sedan, which is why the Regal is now a Sportback or a TourX wagon.
While this isn’t a recipe for major sales success against the heavy hitters in the midsize segment, it will no doubt attract independent thinkers seeking something different to drive. If trendsetters are rocking a Regal, Buick automatically becomes cooler by association.
This is a smart strategy, and the return of the racy Regal GS in a Sportback body style is further evidence that Buick is thinking outside of the box. Still, I can’t help but wish the wagon also received the GS treatment.
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