MILFORD, Mich. -- Prototypes of the new slick-lined treatment for Regal, Buick's mid-size sports sedan, line an asphalt strip at the Milford Proving Ground, vast automotive test facility for General Motors near Detroit.
These latest Regals of 2014 vintage -- sleek in form featuring coupe-like silhouettes and chrome-plated prows flashing aggressive corner lamp clusters with signature wing-shape LED lamps -- pack a goosy new turbocharged engine or Ecotec in-line-4 plant with 'eAssist' battery booster plus taut suspension hardware pinned to a stiff front-wheel-drive (FWD) platform with the new option of on-demand all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction.
Buick builds the 2014 Regal in four trim grades: The base Regal (1SL), Regal Premium I (1SN), Regal Premium II (1SP) and the sport-tuned Regal GS (1SX).
Regal's integral body-frame platform was designed in Europe and underpins other products of the General Motors corporate family such as the Opel Insignia in Europe.
Independent suspension elements consist of MacPherson-type struts in front with dual-path mountings, specifically tuned coil springs, hydraulic ride bushings and a direct-acting stabilizer bar. The rear hosts a 4-link suspension and hollow stabilizer bar plus -- on Regal GS/FWD -- driver-selectable adjustable dampers, dubbed IDCS (Interactive Drive Control System).
Steering, through a direct rack and pinion system, draws power assistance through an all-electric device. It feels dead-on precise and quick.
Brakes, with a big disc at every wheel, counterbalance all of Regal's go-power with fast-acting arrests enhanced by vacuum-boost power and electronic linkage to ABS (anti-lock brake system), TCS (traction control system) and GM's StabiliTrak electronic skid control system.
All of these mechanical systems come together in the worldly new Regals to produce exacting road manners and the spirited performance of a precise German touring sedan.
GM builds two high-tech Ecotec cast aluminum engines for 2014 Regals featuring dual overhead cams (DOHC), electronic throttle control (ETC), direct injection (DI) technology and variable valve timing (VVT).
Standard plant is a refined new 2.0-liter 4-pack fitted with a twin-scroll turbocharger. It develops 259 hp at 5300 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque at 3000-4000 rpm (2500-4000 rpm for Regal GS).
Transaxle is a 6-speed electronically controlled automatic, the Hydra-Matic 6T70 from GM.
The federal EPA sets fuel economy numbers for this Regal powertrain at 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. With optional AWD equipment aboard, the fuel numbers break down to 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.
An optional 6-speed manual gearbox (GM F40-6) is available for Regal GS/FWD. It rates fuel consumption scores of 20/31 mpg (city/highway).
Regal's light hybrid variation teams a thrifty but conventional 2.4-liter 4-cylinder Ecotec engine that sips gasoline with a lithium-ion battery system and electric motor-generator to provide power assistance to the gas engine and boost the fuel economy numbers.
Combined output for the Ecotec engine with eAssist equipment and a 6-speed automatic transaxle (GM's Hydra-Matic 6T40) amounts to 182 hp at 6700 rpm with torque of 172 lb-ft at 4900 rpm. The EPA estimated fuel economy scores tally to 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.
Regal's on-demand AWD device can redirect up to 90 percent of the engine's torque to the rear axle when front wheels lose traction. Also on tap is an electronic limited-slip differential that works automatically to split torque between rear wheels to increase tire grip during hard cornering maneuvers.
Regal's passenger compartment provides seats for five including form-fitting front buckets and ample amenities.
Regal's 1SL base edition lists standard equipment like heated exterior mirrors, leather upholstery, heated front buckets, dual climate controls, a leather-bound steering wheel with wheel-mounted switchgear, a 4.2-inch color driver information center, remote keyless entry system, IntelliLink connectivity with 8-inch color touch display and a 7-speaker audio kit with AM/FM/CD/MP3/USB, Bluetooth, SiriusXM and OnStar telecommunications.
Regal GS (1SX) adds leather sport seats, a navigation system, Bose premium audio package, high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps, IDCS suspension controls, Brembo 4-piston front brake calipers and 19-inch aluminum wheels with P245/40R19 all-season blackwall tires.
Buick posts MSRP figures from $29,690 for Regal 1SL/FWD. Regal GS/FWD rises to $36,905, with Regal GS/AWD caps at $39,270.