Buick Regal GS

Growing up it seemed as though it was all about my “Hot Wheels” and watching the Indy 500 on Memorial Day weekend.

Since then, not too much has changed really. Substitute the Daytona 500 for the Indy race, and I hardly ever ride anymore as I am always driving news cars to review, but it is still all about the “hot wheels” and I don’t just mean the kids’ toy.

Sure I have a sizable collection of the little metal cars (including many I owned as a child) but being a “surrogate” grandfather I now have added new models to the collection as I busily keep pulling them from the two new front teeth of baby J.

I took delivery of Buick’s newest offering, the Regal GS, and when they delivered it the conversation went something like this: “Hey, I thought I was supposed to get a Buick this week? What’s this?”

“That’s the new Buick – hot isn’t it?”

Buick has undergone a major renovation in the post-bailout era with its new lineup set to attract an entirely new generation of customers.

And this is the new turbocharged Regal GS? It ain’t no blue-hair bingo hauler. It’s hot wheels, right down to its, well, hot wheels. Regal is Buick’s new/old midsize model that in recent decades has moved to the sedan platform. The new Regal GS isn’t boring or sedate – far from it.

Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter high output Ecotec four-cylinder engine that belches out some 270hp and 295 lb. ft. of torque, the Regal GS is pitted against the best premium sedans Europe and Japan have to offer in this segment, namely Volvo’s S60, Audi’s A4, Acura’s TSX and so on.

The Regal GS launched with a six-speed manual as the sole gearbox offering but now mid-model year an automatic has been added to the blend. Still six gears and (surprisingly) no paddle shifters the auto makes GS a breeze to drive.

Some enthusiasts were a bit disappointed GM did not bring the Opel performance version of this vehicle (and its extra horsepower) from Europe but we did not get the GS at the launch of the new Regal so hey, baby steps. There’s always next year.

Supportive bucket front seating is still comfy and the car is quiet on the road, even when you stomp the accelerator. Even the GS mode and its stiffer suspension settings still won’t jar your dentures or hairpiece loose.

One thing I question is the choice of having Intellilink technology with satellite radio and touchscreen control over most functions in the vehicle but no navigation system. What’s the thinking here? Given all that this premium level vehicle offers and the fact that most of the necessary technology is already in place, leaving navigation out is a bad move.

Pricing for the 2012 Buick Regal GS begins at $34,835 with our tester rolling in at just over 36 grand. Fuel economy is rated at 19-mpg city and 27-mpg highway.

So while the grandbaby and I won’t be watching a Regal GS pace the Indy 500 this year (perhaps a GNX version will next year?) I will enjoy him playing with my/his Hot Wheels cars during the race.

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