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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sporty Buick... wait wha?

Merriam-Webster defines an oxymoron as "something that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements."  Applying this term to the automotive world, we could make a whole list that would consist of things like fun Camry, practical supercar, Nascar roadcourse, and sporty Buick.  Yet, GM would like us to believe that a car with "European driving characteristics" makes a performance car regardless of its badge or specs.  So, the General bequeathed its German Opel Insignia to their most lackluster American brand as the 2011 Buick Regal.

Let's get right to the heart of the matter here, the motor.  In top trim, the 2.0 liter turbocharged inline-4 produces 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.  Those are very respectable numbers... for my grandmother, which seems to be the demographic that Buick is still catering to.  That amount of power is very good for a sport compact these days.  However, the leaders of the midsize car segment are pushing out 271 and 268 horsepower in the Accord and Camry, respectively.  Not only is the Regal down on power compared to the Japanese mainstays but Buick also decided to stick an American toddler in the trunk which makes the car about 140 pounds heavier than the Camry and 45 pounds more portly than the Accord.  What makes this argument even more amazing is that the Camry and Accord were never meant to be sporty or performance oriented in any way.  Let's take a look at a sportier model in the last generation Mazda6.


The Mazda had the same number of horses under the hood, weighed 260 pounds less, and was 3 inches shorter.  It was praised for bringing exceptional driving dynamics to the midsize market which is a desolate landscape filled with milquetoast offerings.  The one complaint was that in this country of wide open roads it needed more power.  


For Buick to recapture its lost glory, it needs to bring something totally unexpected to the table.  For the Regal nameplate to be lust worthy, take off two doors, give it at least 300 horsepower with a rear-wheel drive configuration, and slap some GNX badges on it.  Otherwise the only buyers of this oxymoron will just be plain morons.

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