2018 Buick Regal GS first drive review: six appeal

The 2018 Buick Regal GS wears lots of letters and words on its flanks and in its cabin. Two you won’t find? “Gran Sport.”

That moniker’s a relic of an era when rear-drive Buicks prowled the roads, leaded fuel their Muscle Milk. Today’s Buicks lean heavily on recently dissolved Opel roots. They’re European in ethos and sometimes in assembly, front- or all-wheel drive thanks, no V-8s, plenty of turbo-4s to go around.

Plenty of discreetly swift metal, too. The 2018 Regal GS skips the pedestrian hardware that pushes the Regal TourX wagon and the Sportback hatch, as it stuffs the Sportback’s sleek body with lots more power and grip.

MORE: 2018 Buick Regal TourX first drive: slightly rugged, very muddy

It’s not just shocks and seats, an old recipe for turning mass-market machines into sex substitutes. To the pretty Sportback, Buick drags up the GS with deeper front and rear bodywork, wide air linets, a rear spoiler, 19-inch wheels, and available LED headlights. The cockpit wears serious-looking dark trim, custom sill plates and pedals, and a flat-bottomed wheel. (That was Freddy Mercury’s draft song title, in case you didn’t know.)

No, the Regal GS takes its place alongside the Kia Stinger GT as one of the more compelling ways we’ve drilled through north Georgia in the past year. It looks around GM’s parts department, and no one the wiser, grabs a bunch of 3.6-liter V-6 engines off the shelf. With 310 horsepower and 282 pound-feet of torque in charge of the Regal GS’ hustle, which compares with the turbo-4’s 250 hp and 295 lb-ft in AWD Sportbacks.

Curb weight sidles up to 3,796 lb, but with an extra forward gear and lower ratio, the more heavily equipped Regal GS likely can cut a few tenths off the acceleration times of a stock 3,417-lb Regal Sportback AWD, which reaches 60 mph in a Buick-claimed 6.2 seconds. High fives all around? High fives all around.

The V-6 GS has active noise cancellation, which relieves some of the big GM V-6 drone. Somehow my mind upconverted the sound into the crackly V-8 magic from the now-dead Chevy SS, and it got better.

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