There’s a problem with most conventional sport sedans: sure they’re fun when you’re blasting up a canyon road, and they give you a sense of confidence when you’re hammer down on your commute home, but they aren’t always a pleasant alternative when you need to eat up highway miles. The very things that make them competent on twisty roads (stiff suspension, precise and weighted steering), make conventional sport sedans uncomfortable for cross-country trips. Even those that allow you to dial in suspension comfort may not soften the steering or make the throttle response less harsh, unless you’re spending serious money for a BMW or Mercedes sedan. Isn’t there a solution for the budget minded enthusiast, who enjoys enthusiastic weekend drives but needs a comfortable weekday commute?
According to Buick, the answer is now “yes”. The 2011 Buick Regal Turbo allows drivers to select from three distinct driving modes, each with a different suspension setting, steering response and throttle response. On the comfort side, the “Tour” setting ensures that the family can ride to grandmother’s house in luxury. On the fun side, the “Sport” setting maximizes throttle response, sharpens the steering and stiffens the suspension. Want a compromise between these extremes? Do nothing, and the car defaults to “Standard” mode, which provides a balance of comfort and handling.
That’s nice, but it’s not exactly cutting edge, since automakers have allowed drivers to modify some (or all) of these parameters for years. In the 2011 Regal Turbo, Buick goes one step farther. If the car senses you’re driving more enthusiastically, it will automatically stiffen the suspension and increase steering effort. If it senses that you’re just rolling down the interstate, it will soften the settings for maximum comfort. Like the steering effort in Sport mode, but find the suspension too stiff? No problem, the Regal Turbo allows drivers to fine tune the settings in Sport mode. Afraid that you won’t be able to execute a sudden lane change in Tour mode? Don’t worry, because stability sensors can stiffen the car’s suspension in milliseconds, regardless of mode setting.
It gets better on the Regal GS, which is set to debut late in 2011 as a 2012 model. The Regal GS gets a fourth mode, labeled “GS”. You guessed it – this mode goes up to 11, and gives the GS owner the stiffest suspension, the heaviest steering and the sharpest throttle response. Sport mode is a bit softer, and on par to Sport mode in Buick Regal Turbo models. The GS also gets a standard mode and a Tour mode, making it a truly well rounded luxury sport sedan. I never thought I’d say this about a Buick, but I can’t wait to drive one.