Buick turns up the heat on its 2018 Regal lineup with new GS model

The 2018 Buick Regal GS aims to provide something that normally isn’t associated with General Motors’ mid-tier brand: fun. Like the previous-generation GS, the 2018 model offers more power and sportier driving dynamics, in an effort to erase Buick’s stereotypical boringness.

The GS is based on the redesigned 2018 Regal, which itself is basically a Buick-badged version of the European-market Opel Insignia. The Regal was developed before GM sold Opel to French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen, and GM will go on selling it despite the sale.

The Regal is only available as a station wagon or a hatchback, and the GS model is only offered in the latter body style. Its headline feature is a 3.6-liter V6, which produces a healthy 310 horsepower and 282 pound-feet of torque. It’s a big step up from the base Regal Sportback, which uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder good for 250 hp and 260 lb-ft. A nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are mandatory on the GS.

On the chassis side, the GS gets upgraded brakes from Brembo, and Continuous Damping Control active suspension, which can adjust the firmness of the shocks up to 500 times a second, according to Buick. Like many other modern cars, the suspension and other settings can be adjusted with programmable drive modes. Buick’s Interactive Drive Control system uses three modes: Standard, Sport, and GS.

Visually, the GS is distinguished by sportier front and rear fascias, model-specific 19-inch wheels, and a rear spoiler. Buick clearly went for subtlety here, but the GS may be a bit too visually similar to its less-sporty siblings.

On the inside, the GS gets a flat-bottomed steering wheel and model-specific seats that, this being a Buick, are heated, ventilated, and have a massage function. Tech features include an 8.0-incg touchscreen infotainment system compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital instrument cluster display, and optional head-up display. That’s a lot of displays.

The 2018 Buick Regal GS starts at $39,990, compared to $25,915 for the Regal Sportback base model. But the GS’ extra power and higher level of feature content may make it worthwhile to buyers who have their hearts set on a new Buick.

But will anyone else care? Buick made a bold choice by offering the Regal only as a hatchback or station wagon. American buyers tend to prefer sedans over those two body styles. But the wagon and hatch offer utility to compete with ever-popular SUVs, and help Buick stand out in a crowded market.