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The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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On: Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 5:43PM | By: John Welch

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

The Buick Regal GS is as exciting as a Buick could possibly be;

Chevy Aveo RS is . . . interesting .. .

and the numbers are in: 2009 SUCKED!

The Good: Buick has unveiled a car we've seen before . . . Opel Insignia OPC, Vauxhall VXR, anyone? So, maybe we've seen the basic concept before, but this Regal is definitely its own car, differentiated from its European cousins by more than the badge on the grille.

Let's talk power, that is what I'm interested in and I'm Joe-Everyman, so it's what you're interested in too. Power then: 255 bhp, 295 lbs. ft. of torque. In Europe these cars are equipped with the same 2.8 liter twin turbo V6 as the Saab 9-5 Sport Combi. Unfortunately for us (or, dynamically, because the four cylinder shaves 100 pounds off of the six, fortunately for us), Buick pledged to keep the Regal line-up four cylinder only in the US. Emissions and fleet-fuel economy, you understand . . . The General didn't exactly pick a bad engine for its hawtest Buick though. This 2.0 lump-o-fury is the same motor found in the Cobalt SS, albeit re-tuned from its original 260 bhp and 260 pound feet rating. But why the change in power manifestation? Weight and driven wheels, my friends.

When plopped down into a Cobalt or Solstice GXP, the engine was dealing with 3,000-ish pounds of heft and two wheel drive, be it front or rear. In the Regal this mill has to yank around more weight and the superb Haldex all wheel drive system. The extra torque will be much appreciated.

Elsewhere, we find Brembo brakes peeking out from behind 19 inch rolling stock. Wait, what? That's some pretty impressive harware for a Buick . . . who exactly is this car's target audience? I want one, badly, but there is no way I could afford it. Kind of like putting Conan O'Brien on before midnight;, the elderly don't understand it. Hopefully GM is able to produce more of these than the Pontiac G8, so I might actually have a chance to acquire one on the used car market . . .

The Regal GS will be offered with a six-speed manual, choice!, and comes with the same Euro-centric interior that blesses all Insignia-derived Epsilon-platformed cars. This interior makes the Chinese-designed computer-keyboard material-ed La Crosse seem just plain vulgar. Actually, the La Crosse's interior is just plain vulgar, no comparison to any other car necessary.

Add an attractive Gurney-Flapesque spoiler, integrated into the trunk-lid (good move, GM!) and you round out the Regal-only dress-up. The GS sports a body-kit that is essentially the same as the panels found on the Opel and Vauxhall siblings. Though it isn't Regal-only, it is still ravishing. One thing that GM is doing better than anyone else would be vertically oriented design elements on the noses of its newer cars. This Buick is nothing if not a 'looker'.

Buick will release all pertinent information this weekend at the North American International Auto Show, and the 'Shopper will be sure to follow up if there is anything new to report . . .

The Bad: Holee-crapola, 2009 was terrible! We posted some good news about December earlier this week, but that is just one month out of twelve, and it wasn't good for everybody. Luxury makers saw huge losses, niche vehicles like the Smart rollerskate stopped selling altogether. Ford maintained the smallest loss, at a whopping 15%!! That is considered a 'victory' for 2009. Yikes. Check the Source for a full break down of the entire industry.

The Ugly (a matter of opinion,): The Chevy Aveo RS Concept. EEeeehhhhrrhhhgggghhh, I want to like it, I really do! It looks like a 1/3 scale Scirocco, but strangely Korean. Which kills me. I should be saying "Strangely American" . . . a sign of the times I suppose.

The micro-car segment is going to be heating up in this country soon, and I am soo sick and tired of journalists saying things "assuming gas prices come up" or "small cars will not catch-on unless gas is more expensive" . . . eff you guys! Gas is plenty expensive, I don't care what the rest of the world pays! The rest of the world doesn't live in Central Florida, a place where an hour in the car for a daily commute is considered mild! That's right, we Americans have to drive all the damn time in order to accomplish anything. Myself and ninety percent of the rest of the American 'middle-class' (what a complete joke!) cannot afford to run our damn lawnmowers, needless to say our cars. Small-cars haven't caught on in the US because we are always given over-optioned, under-designed crap-boxes. We've never been offered a good small car, ala the Ford Ka or Mercedes A-class. The Smart Car? Give me a break . . . it's 30 grand! So anyway, shut your mealy holes; the car companies are so overly sensitive to the media and marketing douche-bags that they may abandon all these sweet small cars before the numbers have a chance to bear any fruit . . . so, hey, Motor Trend, shut it!

Ahem, rant complete; let's focus on this new Aveo RS. We are told that this is a 'concept' and that it is a 'disguised' version of the actual car. I hope not. I like the styling, though mostly because it reminds of the aforementioned Volkswagen . . . another awesome car we don't get to enjoy .. . rrr . . .Anyway, this car hearkens to a slightly up-right, slightly smaller Scirocco, and it succeeds in making the older Aveos look like the mass-market consumerpeoplemoverappliances that they are. Distance from the Aveos of old is a wise move on GM's part. Chevette? Aveo? Same thing.

Moving to the interior we find the same attractive gauge binnacle seeing service in the Chevy Spark. I like this set-up, the first time I've seen a straight up digital speedo matched to an analog tachometer. Nice, quite nice. The dash has an air of luxury to it, though I'm afraid that these materials will not make it to the showroom floor. The stitching seems too good to be true, and the swaths of what appears to be leather on the passenger-side are surely too expensive for a car like this. An option, maybe? I'm not holding my breath. To my eyes, the seats appear to be the same formless crap found in every other GM car. Except for the CTS-V and ZR1, but they don't rely on seating originating from any GM factory. How hard is it to build a seat that doesn't suck/isn't horridly ugly? GM sure has no idea . ..

There are interesting design touches everywhere. The door handles for the rear doors are located in the C-pillar. The head and tail-lamps, though probably not production pieces, are classy and complicated, just the way I like them. Oh, and what about power? The Aveo RS, if produced, will be packing a robust (Ha!) 138 bhp from the turbocharged 1.4 liter mill it shares with the Chevy Cruze. This is comparable with the Fiat 500 Abarth, at 133 bhp, and stomps any planned output for the Ford Fiesta. The Ford languishes with 108 horse, and there are no confirmed plans to bring the Ecoboost four to the States, yet. There is no option engine for the Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris/xD/xB. The Chevy's stout 138 ponies easily out classes those two sub-110 runners. Looking good next to higher quality competition, I'd say . . .

So, peruse the images and judge for yourself; around the 'Shopper the concensus is either honest praise or complete revulsion. Not a lot of middle ground. GM should keep this car pretty close to the concept for production; let's hope they don't screw the pooch and exacerbate our American aversion to small, useful cars.

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