2014 Buick Regal GS AWD – Review and Winter Road Test

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Mirabel is home to Montréal-Mirabel International Airport, which opened in 1975 as the largest airport in terms of surface area in the world.  Mirabel didn’t work out too well as a passenger airport (it’s far from the city and wasn’t popular with passengers or airlines) but it makes for a fine race track.  Circuit Icar opened to the public on the former runways at the airport in 2009.  (Mirabel continues as a smaller cargo airport; in 2012, it saw 32,141 aircraft movements and is serviced by nine cargo airlines including DHL, FedEx, and UPS.)

Icar features a 2.36 mile (3.8 kilometer), 14-turn road course in addition to a quarter-mile (0.4 kilometer) drag strip, a 0.62 mile (1 kilometer) 14-turn kart track, and an autocross track.  The day I arrived at the track snow was piled high and it was set up for a winter driving school with two skid pads, a slalom, and a short track.

I spent the better part of one day driving the Regal GS AWD on highways and country roads outside Montreal and a second day at the track.

The car’s behavior may be summed up succinctly: in wintry conditions such as snow, slush, and ice, there’s far better traction than most cars on the road would exhibit and far better control thanks to the torque split and yaw damping.

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The three driving modes, normal, sport, and GS, all have a European feel to them and range from comfortable (your mother is in the car) to quite firm (Stirling Moss is your copilot).

The time spent on the track (when not doing donuts) proved one thing: where most other cars would go sideways, the Regal pointed straight ahead in almost every instance.

Buick says that the all-wheel drive system should be viewed as a “performance system for a performance car” and they’re not half wrong.  Having driven several pre-refresh Regals and coming away thinking they were merely nice cars, this one was certainly a different breed.

The HiPer Strut suspension no doubt plays a significant role in this respect.  The way GM explains it, is that it compensates for the torque steer that is common to front-wheel drive cars with transversely mounted engines.  It brings the steering axis more in line with the tire centerline, a trait more typical of rear-wheel drive cars.  This results in better tracking and reduced torque steer.  Add in the all-wheel drive system that distributes significant power to the rear under heavy acceleration and voilà.

I found the Regal’s steering to be extremely responsive but it had very little feedback as a result of the car’s electric power steering.

BOTTOM LINE

The 2014 Buick Regal GS AWD is my new favorite American car.  It has impeccable road manners and seldom loses its composure.  It’s a little pricey, not far removed from the Cadillac ATS and CTS, as well as offerings from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.  Nonetheless, it has its own personality and that will carry it quite far. Better cars are indeed being built today and apparently Buick is building them.

THE DETAILS

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD
Base price/price-as-tested $39,270/$44,275
Drivetrain Front engine, all-wheel drive
Engine 2.0-liter inline turbocharged four
Horsepower/Torque 259 / 295
Transmission 6-speed
Curb weight (lbs) 3,725
Wheelbase (inches) 107.8
Length x width x height (inches) 190.2 x 73.1 x 58.4
0-60 mph (seconds) 6.8
Fuel economy (mpg) 19/27

 

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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