Der Buick Regal

Skeptics will say, Here we go, again, as General Motors Co. taps its German subsidiary Adam Opel GmbH for product to rebuild one of its brand's showrooms in the U.S. Clearly, it didn't work for Saturn or Cadillac a decade earlier. But with the new-for-'11 Buick Regal, GM finally may have found the right home and, more importantly, the right strategy for injecting some Germanic soul into its American

Skeptics will say, “Here we go, again,” as General Motors Co. taps its German subsidiary Adam Opel GmbH for product to rebuild one of its brand's showrooms in the U.S.

Clearly, it didn't work for Saturn or Cadillac a decade earlier. But with the new-for-'11 Buick Regal, GM finally may have found the right home and, more importantly, the right strategy for injecting some Germanic soul into its American cars.

The new sports sedan arrives stateside in second-quarter 2010 after highly successful launches late last year in China and in Germany as the Opel Insignia.

The Insignia is drawing rave reviews on its home turf, where it ranks as the best-selling sedan in its class and since last November has racked up more than 30 awards, including European Car of the Year.

In China, the locally built Regal launched in December and has sold some 64,000 units. Young Chinese particularly are captivated by the Regal, keeping the average age of its buyers around 35 years — astonishingly low for Buick.

Driving pre-production Regals along rural roadways outside of Detroit here makes it easier to understand why GM backed out of a deal to sell a majority stake in Opel to Canadian parts maker and contract vehicle-assembler Magna International Inc. In short, Opel makes a fine car.

The U.S.-spec Regal leverages the same Epsilon II platform, which also underpins the new-for-'11 Buick LaCrosse that launched in North America in September, but with subtle mechanical and design differences between its Chinese and German iterations.

For example, the engine is federalized to meet U.S. regulations, as are items such as the mirror glass and the guts of the headlights. But little differs in styling between the Insignia and Regal. Aside from the Buick grille and 3-shield badges, sheet metal is exactly the same.

In fact, Buick's signature port holes will not get stamped into the Regal's hood until production begins in North America in 2011. GM also installs an insert to the front bumper to fill the elongated European license plate basin until U.S. production begins.

The Regal's design proves more striking out on the roadway with some morning rain splattered along its haunches than in GM's advanced design studio, where Ward's first glimpsed the car a few weeks ago.

Standard motivation comes via GM's new 2.4L 4 cyl. engine with direct-injection technology, making 182 hp and 172 lb.-ft. of torque. GM pegs its fuel economy at 20-30 mpg.

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(845) 732-7054

Get your products seen in the Ward's Marketplace - Contact Chris Lamphear at 248-799-2658 or [email protected]

TAGS: Technology
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