Track Tested: 2012 Buick Regal GS Automatic vs. 1987 Buick Regal Grand National


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We've been waiting for this one for a while. So eagerly, in fact, that we took the first of the turbocharged new Regals — the CXL Turbo — and shoved it into a comparison with the big daddy of turbo Buicks — the Grand National — the minute we found one. That was back in January of 2011 and now, more than a year later, we have the match-up we wanted from the beginning: The 270-horsepower 2012 Buick Regal GS (with the automatic transmission) vs. the 245-horse Grand National.

Torque vs. horsepower. Pushrod vs. DOHC. Turbo vs. Turbo. Buick vs. Buick. Who takes it?...

2012 Buick Regal GS Auto vs. 1987 Buick Regal Grand National

0-30 (sec.): 2.5 vs. 2.4
0-45 (sec.): 4.2 vs. 3.8
0-60 (sec.): 6.2 vs. 5.8
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.): 6.0 vs. 5.5
0-75 (sec.): 9.2 vs. 8.6
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 14.5 @ 96.7 vs. 14.3 @ 96.1

30-0 (ft): 27 vs. 35
60-0 (ft): 107 vs. 144
Skid pad lateral accel (g): 0.92 vs. 0.77
Slalom 69.6 vs. 59.2

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Vehicle: 2012 Buick Regal GS

Odometer: 980
Date: 2/28/2012
Driver: Mike Monticello
Price: $34,720

Specifications:
Drive Type: Front engine, front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed automatic
Engine Type: Turbocharged, direct-injection inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,998/122
Redline (rpm): 6,600
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 270 @ 5,300
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 295 @ 2,400
Brake Type (front): 14.0-inch ventilated discs with four-piston fixed aluminum calipers
Brake Type (rear): 12.4-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding aluminum calipers
Suspension Type(front): Independent modified MacPherson struts, coil springs, driver-adjustable three-mode variable dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, driver-adjustable three-mode variable dampers, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 255/35ZR20 (97Y)
Tire Size (rear): 255/35ZR20 (97Y)
Tire Brand: Pirelli
Tire Model: P Zero
Tire Type: Asymmetrical, run-flat,summer performance
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,748

Test Results:

Acceleration:
0-30 (sec): 2.5 (3.0 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 4.2 (4.8 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 6.2 (7.0 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.0 (6.6 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 9.2 (10.0 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.5 @ 96.7 ( 15.1 @ 94.5 w/ TC on)

Braking:
30-0 (ft): 27
60-0 (ft): 107

Handling:
Slalom (mph): 69.6 ( 64.3 w/TC off)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.92 ( 0.90 w/TC on)

Db @ Idle: 47.1
Db @ Full Throttle: 70.6
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 65.5

Comments:

Acceleration: Turbo lag off the line, then the front tires spin up as the boost comes on. This became a problem with TC off, as the car would shift to 2nd early. Quickest run came with a small amount of power braking, then manual shifting at 5,500 rpm, system accomplishing shift by 6,400 or so. Manual shifting is via console lever (pull back for downshifts). Will hold gears to 6,600-rpm limiter. Blips throttle on downshifts.

Braking: Very impressive braking. Moderate pedal travel, firm feel. Hardly any nosedive and the Regal stayed perfectly straight every time. Sticky tires. First stop was the longest at 122 feet. Shortest was the sixth and final stop at 107 feet.

Handling:
Skid pad: Nice grip from these tires. Can pretty much just set your arc and then use minor, minor throttle adjustments to keep the Regal on track. A little bit goes a long way. ESC wasn't very intrusive when switched on — was more sporadic than intrusive, the randomness of intervention making more work for the driver.

Slalom: Two things: First, found that it was important to always remain on the throttle to keep the turbo spooled up. Second, our mid-slalom bump upsets the Regal a bit when it's in the very stiff "GS" suspension mode setup. But this is a surprisingly capable front-drive sedan, with quick steering, tires that grip and grip and stiff suspension tuning. I like it! The ESC system was fairly intrusive when switched on, stabbing the brakes and cutting the throttle.

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Vehicle: 1987 Buick Regal Grand National
Odometer: 29,348
Date: 11/9/2010
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $17,000 (est.)

Specifications:

Drive Type: Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Four-speed automatic
Engine Type: Turbocharged, sequential fuel-injected V6
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 3,800/231
Redline (rpm): 5,200
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 245 @ 4,400
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 355 @ 2,800
Brake Type (front): Ventilated disc
Brake Type (rear): Drum
Steering System: Hydraulic-assist, recirculating-ball power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent double-wishbones, coil spring
Suspension Type (rear): Live axle, coil springs
Tire Size (front): P235/60R15 98S
Tire Size (rear): P255/60R15 102S
Tire Brand: BF Goodrich
Tire Model: Radial T/A
Tire Type: All-season
Wheel Size: 15-by-7 inches front and rear
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,509

Test Results:
0 - 30 (sec): 2.4
0 - 45 (sec): 3.8
0 - 60 (sec): 5.8
0 - 60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.5
0 - 75 (sec): 8.6
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 14.3 @ 96.1

30 - 0 (ft): 35
60 - 0 (ft): 144

Slalom (mph): 59.2
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.77

Db @ Idle: 52
Db @ Full Throttle: 67.4
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 66.5

Acceleration Comments: Needs a brake torque launch to leave the line with any authority. Doing so builds the boost and loads the torque converter for a slight bit of spin that helps. Too much throttle here, though, and it spins too much, slowing down the times. Remarkably linear power delivery at wide-open throttle. Astounded by how quick and smooth the shifts were. Funny to see the 85 mph speedometer pegged well before the finish line.

Braking Comments: With no ABS, I need to stab, lift and then squeeze to avoid lockup. Not a big shock that the pedal was pretty squishy.

Handling Comments:
Skid pad:I could sense the sidewalls flexing and then releasing, which kept me busy with steering input. Also, in 2nd gear the turbo was always in flux, which kept me busy with the throttle. Good thing the seats were cloth, as the friction was the only thing keeping me in.

Slalom: As with the skid pad, the flexing tires were another variable to deal with. Slow steering ratio, lack of feel and pronounced understeer require wide lines and early turn-in. Had to lift to get the front end to bite and then get back on the gas to make the final cone. A lot of work for a pretty average number.

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