Design director discusses style and substance of Buick’s sportiest sedan
DETROIT – The all-new 2012 Buick Regal GS, now arriving in dealerships, is the sportiest expression of Buick’s hot-selling midsize luxury sport sedan to date. Its high-output Ecotec 2.0L turbo engine cranks 270 hp and 295 lb.-ft. of torque, giving it the highest specific output of any production engine GM has offered.
GS performance persona is further supported by Brembo four-piston front-caliper brakes, a HiPer Strut front suspension system, six-speed manual transmission, driver-adjustable suspension and steering settings and 19-inch standard and 20-inch optional wheels.
Dave Lyon, executive director for Design, recently explained the substance behind Regal GS styling.
Q: How did the Regal GS’ styling evolve?
A: Naturally, we started with the Regal, which is already the most-athletic design we’ve ever had for Buick. The car has a great stance. The wheels are at the corners of the vehicle, sitting outside the body, which gives it a well-planted look on the road. The Regal also has beautifully sculpted sheet metal and a very sleek centerline. For GS, we weren’t looking for a personality change so much as an enhancement. Most of all, we wanted a pure expression of Buick performance.
Q: What are the design details that give Regal GS its unique look?
A: Regal GS’ styling is as purposeful as it is beautiful. The GS requires a lot more cooling for its brakes and powertrain than other Regal models. So, we have opened up the fascia for more air intake. Aesthetically speaking, the two vertical air intakes at the corners give the car a very dramatic signature front end, almost catlike. The Regal already had a feline grace, but we’ve enhanced it for GS, making it even more assertive. We also lowered the front and rear fascias and added rocker extensions along the sides, which gives the car a well-planted look. This also reduces the amount of air that can go underneath the car, which enhances aerodynamics.
Q: What are some other differences between Regal GS and other Regal models?
A: Going around the vehicle you’ll see that Regal’s bright chrome decorations are somewhat toned down for the GS, taking on a satin finish. The standard 19-inch wheels and optional 20-inch wheels, which look fantastic, also have a satin finish, look very three dimensional and sculptural. They don’t look like anything else on the road. Also, the satin-finished dual exhausts are integrated into the lowered rear fascia in a very dramatic way, and help give the car an attractive luxurious look from every angle.
Q: Were there any specific design inspirations for GS?
A: We looked at a lot of shapes from the natural world, including lightweight, agile predators that convey speed, power and beauty.
Q: How important was aerodynamic refinement to GS styling?
A: The GS team spent a lot of time on the Autobahn and Nurburgring tuning the high-speed signature of the vehicle. Aerodynamic styling enhancements like the lowered fascia and rocker extensions help stabilize the car at high speeds and the twin air intakes help keep the Brembo performance brakes cool.
Q: How does the GS’ styling strike a balance between Buick heritage and Buick reinvention?
A: Instead of following a specific formula for Buick design, we want each car to have its own individual personality. The Regal has a more avant-garde style than the rest of the Buick lineup, which is reaching a younger buyer and customers who might not have previously considered buying a Buick. The use of more diverse powertrains influences how we express Buick design characteristics like the waterfall grille, portholes, headlight shapes, air intakes, and other styling cues. As we transition from being a V-8 and V-6 powertrain division to one that uses very smart power like Regal GS’ high-output 2.0L turbo engine, not to mention Regal and LaCrosse’s use of eAssist, the familiar Buick cues will evolve as well. In the future, we expect to develop new ways to express even more high-tech and efficient powertrains.
Q: How close to a four-door coupe does the GS come?
A: I can see why someone would be tempted to use that term to describe the GS, but we prefer to think of it as a very expressive four-door sedan, and there’s no shame in that. Unlike a coupe, the GS has a very useable back seat with excellent ingress and egress, and it’s as pretty as most midsize coupes on the market. When you’re sitting the GS’ driver seat and engage with its aluminum pedals, short-throw shifter and flat-bottomed three-spoke steering wheel you forget that you’re driving a sedan. As soon as you grab that flat-bottomed wheel you know you’re in a different kind of Buick. Who needs a coupe when you have a GS?