Saturday, February 20, 2010

Opel Derived and Inspired!

The news is just coming out that Buick's Regal will be making a return to the brand's line up. Produced by GM from 1973 to 2004, the Regal was at one time one of the best selling Buicks, offered in two and/or four door body formats. The most well known iteration of the Regal was the Grand National, a stock car that won several titles in the 1980s.

GM has been considering reviving the Regal name for some time. The company is turning to its European division, Opel, to produce the Regal, a model currently sold in China. Right now the Opel Insignia is sold across much of western Europe, thus GM is expected to offer a Buick version of that car by swapping out its grill and replacing Opel badging with Buick.

First introduced for the 2008 model year, the Insignia has been a success for Opel. Replacing the Vectra, the Insignia is stylish, luxurious and very comfortable. Sold as a four door sedan, five door hatchback and a wagon, the Insignia seats five passengers. Only the sedan version will be sold in the US.

Like so many European vehicles, the Insignia has numerous engine choices, nine to be exact. Gas and diesel engines ranging from 1.6L I4 to a 2.8L turbo-charged V6 are available. Likely, a larger in-line four and one or two V6 powered engines will be offered with the Insignia. Unfortunately, no diesel option will be available, given the cost of meeting stringent US pollution requirements.

Though US specifications for the new Regal have yet to be announced, we know that the same six-speed manual and automatic transmissions offered in Europe will be paired with the engines sold in cars in the United States. Furthermore, given that Buick is an upscale brand, leather seating surfaces, navigational controls, wood and aluminum inlays and dual zone air conditioning will either be standard features or packaged optionally.

GM has been looking at separating Opel from its operations, possibly selling off the brand or at least a share of it. That may not affect the Regal as whatever agreement is reached would likely include a long lasting supply chain for Buick's operation. Moreover, the car is sold in Brazil as the Chevrolet Vectra in the UK as the Vauxhall Insignia and will soon be sold in Australia as a Holden model. Clearly, the Regal is coming back. Perhaps as early as this fall in the form of a 2010 model.

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