For Sale By:Dealer
Warranty: Vehicle does NOT have an existing warranty
Exterior Color: Yellow
Interior Color: Burgundy
Number of Cylinders: 8
Eugene, Oregon, United States
Buick is taking a gamble with its 2013 Encore. General Motors' near-luxury brand has enjoyed great success attracting conquest buyers to its larger Enclave crossover, but it has never offered something quite like this small CUV.
Very early signs suggest that the gamble might be working. According to Mark Reuss, President of General Motors, the automaker expected about 1,500 initial orders from its dealers for the Encore, but it's tracking closer to 9,000 units. Alluding to the fact that historically, Buick has shared similar products with GM's other brands, Reuss says that Buick dealers are "thrilled to have an exclusive." The automaker already markets almost identical models in other markets as the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka and Chevrolet Trax, but The General's other brands won't offer a twin to the new baby Buick.
The new Encore is based on the Gamma architecture that underpins the Chevrolet Sonic, and it shares the economy car's available turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine. With standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive, GM says its Encore will be pitted against competitors like the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, both of which are much more expensive but also much more powerful.
"This is just silly," I said as I laughed my way sideways around the icy track at Circuit ICAR, a racecourse, drag strip and kart track at the Montreal-Mirabel International Airport in Quebec. It wasn't the activity that had me cracking up, though. After all, winter driving experiences aren't uncommon in this business.
No, in this particular case, it was the car that had me chuckling. I wasn't in a mad hot hatch or a rally-derived rocket - I was in a Buick. The 2014 Regal GS, to be more precise. Somehow, despite its recent product renaissance (not to mention its distant - yet storied - history of performance models), I was having a hard time believing that this attractive, turbocharged, all-wheel-drive sedan sliding around the Great White North could possibly be wearing a Tri-Shield badge on its nose.
But it was, and slide about it did. While having access to a vehicle in this setting is fairly rare, what's rarer is the fact that I've had so much exposure to it. In Mr. Ewing's recent Volkswagen Golf R drive story, for instance, his ice capades were his first experience with the new model. In my case, though, I was lucky enough to first test the refreshed Regal GS for a week back in December before flying to Quebec to drive it on the snowy, icy, winding roads of Canada's most fiercely independent province and on the track at Mirabel.
Buick may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of performance automobiles, but fans of the brand know what letters to look for. If you believe the reports, there's a new GNX and Grand National on the way, but in the meantime, Buick may offer more GS models to fill the void.
Currently, the Regal is the only model available as a GS (pictured above), packing the same 259-horsepower turbo four as the Regal Turbo but enhanced with key suspension, brakes and rolling-stock upgrades. As Car and Driver notes, similar upgrades could easily be applied to the Verano and LaCrosse, although maybe not the Encore or Enclave crossovers. Of course, Buick would still have to steer clear of Cadillac's Vsport line, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a little room to play.