I guess my wife summed up the 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo best, when she said she couldn't believe it was a Buick. "It's nothing like the slushy ones I've been in before. It feels like a European car." Of course, she did not realize that the Regal is a European car, built in Germany. It's based off based off the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia.
When I drove a Vauxhall Insignia in the UK last year as one of the ten finalists for the 2010 WCOTY contest I came away quite impressed. It did not win that contest but it did win the European Car of the Year award.
In 2009 the old GM came close to divesting its Opel subsidiary. I was one of many who thought this would be a dumb idea as Opel would play an important part of GM if it intended to remain a global player. Whether we like it or not the majority of American designed vehicles are not suitable for the global market.
In Europe the Opel Insignia is positioned just below an entry-level car such as the , and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. It has about the same dimensions but costs less than these rivals.
I found the turbocharged 220 bhp 2.0-liter Ecotec four-cylinder provided plenty of power and was smooth with no noticeable turbo lag. Under hard acceleration there is slight torque steer but nothing really objectionable. I got the feeling the steering is slightly less taught than my memory of the Insignia. All in all it is a competent car if not quiet as good a driver as the Audi A4 or BMW 3-Series.
Personally I like the look of the Regal better than the Insignia since it's a little more flamboyant.
The window sticker on the Buick CXL-Turbo starts at $28,745 but the model I tried had the T07 optional package that added another $5,690 for a final sticker of $35,185 (including shipping), which put it in direct competition with the Audi A4 and BMW 3-Series. If you can live with a less powerful 182 bhp engine, the base Regal is less costly at a starting price of $26,245.
As an aside, it's interesting to see that while the Regal is assembled in Germany 21% of the content, including the engine, is sourced from the US and Canada while the transmission comes from China. This American car is truly a global car.