Buick Regal Preview

What it is: As before, Buick’s new mid-size Regal will be little more than a European-market Opel Insignia wearing the Buick insignia, er, Tri-Shield. With Cadillac’s rear-drive ATS busy chasing the BMW 3-series, the front- or all-wheeldrive Regal has always seemed more like a low-budget Audi A4. The new Insignia/ Regal looks to move further upscale to pull even closer to the A4.

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Why it matters:  The rumored arrival of a Regal wagon on our shores would have been enough to get our attention, but the new Insignia’s sharp, athletic styling has us genuinely excited about a production Buick (we can’t remember the last time we said such a thing).

Platform:  The same E2XX platform underneath the latest Chevrolet Malibu.

Powertrain:  To keep the base price below $30,000, the Regal may come standard with the Malibu’s 163-hp, turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four, paired with an automatic transmission to drive the front wheels. Much more enticing is the idea of a 2.0-liter turbo four producing between 260 and 300 horsepower mated, as it is in the Insignia, to an all-wheel-drive system incorporating the same GKN-supplied torque-vectoring rear differential used in the Ford Focus RS. Given that Buick killed off the manual-transmission version of the previous Regal GS for 2015, we’re sad to say that a stick-shift option is unlikely.

Competition:  Acura TLX, Audi A4, Ford Fusion Sport, Lincoln MKZ, Volkswagen Arteon, Volvo S60.

What might go wrong:  Although a hotted- up Opel Insignia OPC is a sure bet for Europe, there’s no guarantee that all of that model’s performance tweaks will make their way into a new Regal GS. Additionally, rumors concerning the wagon version suggest that it may be offered in the U.S. exclusively as a raised Subaru Outback–like variant with all-wheel drive and extra body cladding.

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Estimated arrival and price:  Late this year, in the same price bracket as the current Regal, which ranges between just under $30,000 up to a bit over $40,000.

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