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Driven: 2018 Buick Regal Sportback Essence 2.0t
(the original review is in this post. A revised review is further down, in this post)
-Nice understated shape conceals a cleverly integrated hatchback design
-'Decent' propulsion from 2.0t engine
-Nicely shaped upper dash with touchsreen oriented slightly to driver. Interesting at least from a design standpoint.
-Sporting driving position and good room in both rows, mostly, plus the biggest benefit being improved leg room over previous model
-Really nice cargo space, with seats up, or seats down, the cargo area of this vehicle and the flexibility of it in a car like this IMO is a major draw
-View outside of this vehicle is improved over its platform mate (Malibu, my daily driver) due to the rear door glass being longer and taller. View out the front and rear is essentially the same.
-AWD availability is a nice plus, thanks Buick.
-I can't recall any of the GM vehicles I have driven with this ubiquitous 2.0t engine, where i have actually been wowed or impressed by it. It has decent thrust, but honestly you gotta spool it up a bit, the tranny doesn't respond instantly, it's not a five star smooth tranny, and it's kind of rough and noisy overall as a powertrain (AT LEAST FOR IT'S PRICE / CLASS). I was hoping the 2.0 would make the car match the near luxury description but I don't think it's overall a smooth enough powertrain to meet that claim. It's neither smooth, nor sporting or exciting. And this is with front wheel drive. I will reserve final judgment until i get in the GS with the v6, which is the engine I think most people will really end up liking in this car.
-Heavier than it's Malibu platform mate. No doubt acceptable due to the larger engine, but the benefit of the extra weight doesn't manifest itself in any real tangible way anywhere in the ride and drive of the car.
-Not really any quieter inside than my Malibu. Strange, because this Buick is supposed to have quiet tuning, and goo in the tires to help make it quieter. The ride isn't really any more plush, either.
-Steering is sort of dead and mushy. That's not GERMANIC now, is it.
-NEED TO BE ABLE TO TURN OFF THE AUTOSTOP WHEN YOU WANT TO.
-Not really much nicer inside than in my Malibu. The lower dash is the same 'less expensive' plastic you see in cheap Chevy's. The door panels are a little nicer, but not that much more. Many switches and buttons are the same. The console is nicer (I don't like the shifter centered in the console now actually, it's quite a reach) I guess...except for cupholders in front of the climate controls. The upper dash material is an upgrade over the Malibu, but it's not a PREMIUM dash material either.
-I can't really tell for sure if the seats are better. My Malibu seats are poor. The Regal seats seemed to hug me more, but they still felt thin and insubstantial. The leather quality was slightly better, but still nothing to write home about.
-Rear head room suffers a bit with the hatch design. I don't mind the tradeoff personally, but the Malibu retains a bit more headroom, and the Regal TourX really has much more....so get the wagon if rear head room matters.
-Sunroof was nice to have considering how bunkerlike the Malibu can feel....but again the hatch design limits the size of the sunroof here compared to the Malibu's BAMR. I can live with the compromise here myself, and again, the wagon will satisfy your urge for BAMR if you need it. I would encourage GM to develop a way to integrate a larger moonroof with the hatch design. I think it could be done, but would require time and money on a redesign effort.
-Options / packages on this car are, simply put, stupid. But that merits its own post. At least in this car, the heated steering wheel and leather heated seats were both included. You can actually get this car with heated steering wheel but without heated seats. How f-cked up is that? In 2019, Fusion, Toyota, and others will have things like blind spot and cross path detection as standard equipment. And those are not 'premium' makes.
-I'll let others decide if they think the styling is too tepid. I don't mind the understated styling but do admit that the color selections that are available on this car leave me wanting. I like the red on the GS, and the smoked pearl metallic is nice. And Buick seems to think they should charge extra for paint colors when they don't make the ride and drive anything special.
-pricing. I think the average nature of this car would be easily forgiven if the pricing were in line with being an average car; not priced for a premium marque. Like the LaCrosse and Envision, it is best to wait out the model year if you are buying and wait for the inevitable 7,000-10,000 or more in discounts...which might bring the pricing in line with what the vehicle really is. You can't say this vehicle is appealing at the prices it is at now.
This probably seems like a negative review, but you should consider it more of underwhelmed and let down. This car as I drove it just doesn't have any kind of endearing personality to speak of! At the end of the day, it took Buick two extra years to bring to the US it's own Malibu clone, which doesn't have much more to show for it.... apart from the clever hatch and base 2.0 engine upgrade over the 1.5. I actually am very curious now to be among the first to try the 2019 Malibu 1.5t + CVT combo. But that's an aside for another discussion. The 2.0 that general motors puts in so many vehicles has never impressed me, and that's due more to it's character than anything. I had hopes this would be the ONE CAR that it would feel sporting in; one that would make the car feel at least a little, like a SPORTS SEDAN. Nope. I will wait with baited breath to someday find a v6 GS to test, as i think it will be the only Regal worth anything. At least worth anything more than just being another option in the midsize, genericar class. And I hope Buick is working on a twin turbo six option as well for the GS (GSX?). I tend to think this car won't move the needle in marketplace excitement until it has a tire shredder under the hood to brag about...The v6 will promise smoother revs and deeper lungs at least......... Still, as a replacement in the bottom end of the Buick lineup for the Verano, I am ok with this. Just please, sex it up!
By William Maley
Buick is expanding their electrified options in China with the introduction of the Velite 6 plug-in hybrid and electric. They'll join the the Buick Velite 5 - a rebadged Chevrolet Volt.
The design is interesting to say in the least with a fair number of creases and a blacked-out rear pillar on this hatchback body.
Arriving first is the plug-in hybrid which is comprised of a 1.5L four-cylinder, two AC permanent-magnet synchronous motors, and lithium-ion battery pack. With a full tank of gas and fully charged battery, Buick estimates a range of 700 kilometers (about 435 miles). Not much is known about the electric variant, aside from Buick saying the model "will adopt a new-generation pure electric drive system to offer customers a smooth, quiet and natural driving experience." The electric variant will arrive next year.
Both Velite 6 models will come with Buick's new eConnect cloud connectivity system. Different drivers can setup their own accounts to personalize settings for navigation, audio, and internet use. eConnect will also provide real-time intergration of WeChat, a Chinese social media service. Owners can use their smartphone as the key for the Velite 6.
Buick VELITE 6 Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle and Enspire All-Electric Concept SUV Make Global Debut in China
WUZHEN – The Buick VELITE 6 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and the Buick Enspire all-electric concept SUV made their global debut this evening at a launch event in the scenic Chinese city of Wuzhen, Zhejiang.
Buick also announced that the VELITE 6 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle will be launched this year and its sibling, the VELITE 6 electric vehicle, will be introduced in China at a later date.
Buick VELITE 6
Buick is focused on electrification, connectivity, intelligence and sharing in line with its Buick Blue new energy vehicle strategy. The VELITE 6 represents the latest application of this strategy.
The two VELITE 6 models leverage electrification and connectivity technology from SAIC-GM’s parent companies, including Buick’s newest electric propulsion technology and connectivity technology. They are based on the VELITE Concept new energy vehicle that was unveiled in November 2016.
The VELITE 6 has a dynamic posture coupled with a wide stance. The modern, streamlined shape aptly represents the innovative exterior styling that matches the new nameplate’s exciting technological character.
The high-performance propulsion system of the VELITE 6 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is composed of an EVT electronically controlled variable transmission, two AC permanent-magnet synchronous motors with a high-performance lithium-ion battery, and a 1.5L naturally aspirated engine especially tuned for hybrid vehicles.
The motors and engine efficiently optimize power in different driving modes – such as the hybrid-driven mode of the motor and the engine, the single-driven mode of the motor, and the single-driven mode of the engine. It has a range of 700 km and combined fuel consumption of 1.4 liters/100 km.
The new-generation modular high-performance ternary lithium-ion battery pack will be assembled at the new state-of-the-art SAIC-GM Power Battery Development Center in Shanghai. The battery incorporates leading battery heat management technology, providing independent and uniform temperature control of each battery unit via liquid cooling. This will ensure a longer life cycle and more stable performance.
The VELITE 6 electric vehicle will adopt a new-generation pure electric drive system to offer customers a smooth, quiet and natural driving experience.
The flexible and open cloud-based Buick eConnect technology in both models enables cutting-edge services and over-the-air update capability. With exclusive accounts, users can personalize their settings for OnStar, navigation, internet use and more. Music and destinations can be sent to the car display screen via WeChat in real time, for one-button navigation and listening. Users can also directly receive information about their vehicles’ condition and recommended maintenance.
VELITE 6 users’ smartphones serve as a virtual key to enter and start the vehicle. They can authorize others to use their vehicles through their phones as well. Additional functions and new features will continuously be added to improve the user experience.
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By William Maley
Describing a Buick as being bold seems somewhat strange, but the Enspire concept that debuted today in China is just that. Describing a Buick as being bold seems somewhat strange, but the Enspire concept that debuted today in China is just that.
The overall shape is very different from Buick's current crossover lineup with a pronounced front end, deep cuts in the bumper, cameras mounted where the side-view mirrors would be, flared-out rear fenders, and a sharply raked rear end. The only interior shot provided by Buick is of the front. It looks very futuristic with the dash wrapped in microfiber suede and wood trim, OLED display, and a heads-up display featuring augmented reality technology.
Power comes from Buick's eMotion electric powertrain producing 410 kW (about 550 horsepower). 0-60 mph is said to take about 4 seconds. On a single charge, Buick claims the Enspire can travel up to 370 miles. The concept supports both fast and wireless charging - the former providing an 80 percent charge within 40 minutes.
Buick will be showing off the Enspire concept at Auto China 2018 in Beijing later this month.
Enspire All-Electric Concept SUV Debuts in China
Sculptural beauty meets advanced battery electric technology in Chinese concept SUV WUZHEN, China — The Buick Enspire all-electric concept SUV, an exploration of Buick’s bold design ideas and innovative technologies for future mobility, made its global debut in China. Key features include:
Exterior feature lines and advanced aerodynamics accentuate the exterior’s strong, sculptural look. A “surround skyline” interior theme and suspended theater-type seating give the Enspire a bright and spacious interior. The center console and armrests are made from natural wood grain and microfiber suede. Cutting-edge technologies include an OLED display screen and an intelligent augmented reality technology-based head-up display system. 5G super high-speed network concept. Performance Features:
Buick’s eMotion electric propulsion technology generates a maximum power of 410 kW, enabling the concept to sprint from 0-60 mph in 4 seconds. The Enspire is able to travel up to 370 miles on a single charge. Supports both fast and wireless charging — the battery can be charged to 80 percent of capacity within 40 minutes. The Enspire all-electric concept SUV will be on display at Auto China 2018 in Beijing from April 25 to May 4.
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By William Maley
Later this month, Buick will be debuting an all-electric concept SUV named the Enspire. The teaser picture released by Buick shows off a rakish back window and a taillight that runs the full length of the rear.
"The Enspire leverages GM’s global resources and is an exploration of design and new technologies. It is the brand’s latest example of innovation and application of future electric smart mobility," Buick said in a press release.
We're not surprised that Buick is showing off an electric concept in China. Last year, Chinese buyers bought 1.18 million Buick models - compared to the 219,231 sold in the U.S. China is also pushing automakers to build electric vehicles to help reduce emissions in the country.
We'll have more information when the Enspire debuts on April 17th during Buick Brand Night.
Press Release is on Page 2
Buick Enspire Concept SUV to Make Global Debut in China
SHANGHAI – Buick today announced that the Enspire, its new all-electric concept SUV, will make its global debut at Buick Brand Night on April 17 in Wuzhen, Zhejiang. It will also be on display to the public at Auto China 2018 in Beijing, which begins later this month.
The Enspire leverages GM’s global resources and is an exploration of design and new technologies. It is the brand’s latest example of innovation and application of future electric smart mobility.
View full article
By William Maley
I couldn’t believe my eyes as to what stood before me. In the driveway stood an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. I had to touch it to see if I was imagining it. Okay, I am being a bit hyperbolic, but considering the long time it took Alfa Romeo to get its affairs in some semblance of order, it is amazing that the Giulia is on sale.
Still, I had a bit of trepidation with spending a week in the Giulia Quadrifoglio. The past year has seen a number of outlets reporting various gremlins pop up on their test vehicles. Would my particular one be spared? If so, what does the Giulia Quadrifoglio offer over the competition?
Alfa Romeo is known for styling vehicles that stand out and Giulia Quadrifoglio is no exception. Up front resides the traditional Alfa triangle grille and large openings in the bumper with mesh inserts. The carbon fiber hood features gentle sculpting and a set of air vents in the channels. The side profile features more of the gentle sculpting on the doors, along with carbon fiber side skirts and 19-inch wheels finished in dark gray. The rear is where the Giulia Quadrifoglio makes its intentions known to the world with a carbon fiber lip spoiler and massive rear diffuser with large exhaust pipes sitting on either end. Finishing off the vehicle are cloverleaf badges on the front fenders and a dark blue finish.
At first glance, the Giulia’s interior looks elegant. The dash has a flowing wave shape that is higher on the driver’s side to make space for the instrument cluster and infotainment system. Material choices such soft-touch plastics, carbon fiber accent trim, and a small-rimmed steering wheel with Alcantara and carbon fiber help set the Quadrifoglio apart from other Giulia models. But Alfa Romeo earns some red marks as the center console is littered with cheap plastics - the controller for the infotainment system and gear lever being the key offenders.
Our test Giulia Quadrifoglio came with the standard leather and Alcantara sport seats. A set of carbon fiber Sparco racing seats are available as an option, but it is one we would recommend trying out first. Sitting in a Quadrifoglio with the optional seats, I found that I could not fully settle into them due to my wide shoulder blades. The standard seats offer increased bolstering to hold you and a passenger when the road gets twisty. I would like to see a little bit more cushioning in the seats as it becomes somewhat uncomfortable the longer you sit in them. The back seat in Giulia is average for the class, offering a decent amount of head and legroom for those under six-feet. Getting in and out of the back seat is not easy due to a narrow opening.
All Giulia Quadrifoglios come equipped with an 8.8-inch infotainment system. Controlling this is a rotary knob in the center console, along with using voice commands. The system itself is very frustrating for a number of reasons. For one, the system is slow when put against competitors. It takes a few moments to switch between various menus. Also, certain functions don’t work as you might expect. For example, turning the knob in the navigation system doesn’t zoom in or out. You have to scroll the navigation menu to find the Zoom command to allow this function. Other issues I experienced during my week-long test of the Giulia included,:
The system wouldn’t play my iPod if I had it paused for more than minute or if I switched to another audio source and then back to the iPod. Connecting my iPhone 7 Plus to the system via Bluetooth took on average about 45 seconds. I had the system crash on me twice during the week I had the Giulia. One of those crashes required me to turn off the vehicle and start it back up to get the system working again. Alfa Romeo needs to go back to the garage and do some serious work with this infotainment system.
Underneath the carbon fiber hood lies the beating heart of the Quadrifoglio, a 2.9L twin-turbo V6 with 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Drive is sent to the rear-wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Quadrifoglio models have four drive modes - Race, Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency and each one alters the engine’s behavior. Advanced Efficiency and Natural are about the same with the throttle being a bit more laid back. But that isn’t to say the Giulia isn’t quick in either mode. It has more than enough oomph to leave other cars in the dust when leaving a stop light or merging. But the engine really comes alive when in Dynamic or Race. The throttle sharpens up and the exhaust opens up to deliver a tantalizing soundtrack. Mash the pedal and hold on because this engine will throw you back. The engine sings at mid and high-rpms with speed coming on at an astonishing rate. Alfa says the Quadrifoglio can hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and I can say they are right on the money.
The automatic transmission is quite impressive. In Normal and Advanced Efficiency, the transmission delivers smooth gear changes. Turn to Dynamic or Race and the gear changes are snappy and fast. Oddly, the automatic transmission exhibits some hesitation when leaving a stop. This is a problem more attune with dual-clutch transmissions.
EPA fuel economy figures for the Giulia Quadrifoglio are 17 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed at 19.7 mpg.
Handling is where the Giulia Quadrifoglio truly shines. Enter into a corner and Giulia hunkers down with little body roll and gives you the confidence to push a little bit further. Steering is another highlight, offering quick response and decent weight. The only complaint I have with the steering is that I wished for some road feel.
There is a trade-off to Giulia’s handling and that is a very stiff ride. Even with the vehicle set in Advanced Efficiency or Natural mode, the suspension will transmit every road imperfection to your backside. Wind and road noise isolation is about average for the class.
It is time to address the elephant in the room and that is Alfa Romeo’s reliability record. Since the Giulia went on sale last year, numerous outlets have reported various issues from a sunroof jamming to a vehicle going into a limp mode after half a lap on a track. The only real issues I experienced during my week dealt with infotainment system which made me breathe a sigh of relief. Still, the dark cloud of reliability hung over the Giulia and I never felt fully comfortable that some show-stopping issue would happen. This is something Alfa Romeo needs to remedy ASAP.
Now we come to end of the Giulia Quadrifoglio review and I am quite mixed. Considering the overall package, the Quadrifoglio is not for everyone. No, it isn’t just because of reliability. This vehicle is a pure sports car in a sedan wrapper. It will put a big smile on your face every time you get on the throttle or execute that perfect turn around a corner. But it will not coddle you or your passengers during the daily drive. Add in the material quality issues and concerns about reliability, and you have a mixed bag.
To some, that is the charm of an Alfa Romeo. Within all of those flaws is a brilliant automobile. For others, it is something that should be avoided at all costs.
Disclaimer: Alfa Romeo Provided the Giulia, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Make: Alfa Romeo
Engine: 2.9L 24-Valve DOHC Twin-Turbo V6
Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 505 @ 6,500
Torque @ RPM: 443 @ 2,500 - 5,500
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/20
Curb Weight: N/A
Location of Manufacture: Cassino, Italy
Base Price: $72,000
As Tested Price: $76,995 (Includes $1,595.00 Destination Charge)
Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package - $1,500.00
Harman Kardon Premium Audio System - $900.00
Montecarlo Blue Metallic Exterior Paint - $600.00
Quadrifoglio Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel - $400.00
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