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Auto blogThu, 27 Feb 2014 11:57:00 EST
"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.
With its first full year of sales in the bag, it's safe to say that Buick has a hit on its hands with the Encore. US buyers have snatched up 31,046 of the small, premium crossovers since the Encore went on sale in January of 2013, while 97,311 were sold globally (not counting its counterparts from Opel and Vauxhall).
While we liked the Encore when we first drove it, we'll admit, we weren't sure how the tiny CUV would do. In fact, the first thing Executive Editor Chris Paukert wrote about the Encore was, "We admit it. We have no earthly idea how this whole thing is going to shake out." But it's done well, and has been subject to heavy demand over the past year, blowing away the estimates of analysts, who, according to an August story from Automotive News, projected no more than 18,500 units would be sold in 2013.
"Right out of the gate, demand for the Encore was high," Tony DiSalle, vice president of Buick marketing said in a statement. "It accounted for most of the segment's growth last year and that's because it offers the right safety, technology and features in the right-sized vehicle for many customers."
As we continue to put together all the data for the year-end edition of By The Numbers, General Motors has announced that it sold more than a million vehicles in the US last year that achieved at least 30 miles per gallon on the highway. More impressively, GM managed this feat using multiple strategies including small vehicle size, turbocharged engines and hybrid or plug-in technologies across four brands (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC) accounting for 13 separate models. This number will grow even more in 2013 thanks to cars like the all-electric Spark, the diesel Cruze, the range-extended Cadillac ELR and the Buick Encore compact CUV.
GM's small car sales were up 39 percent last year helping to attain this million-sales mark for 30-mpg models, and almost 40 percent of all GM sales consisted of cars with fuel-efficient I4 engines. In regards to more advanced means of improving fuel economy, GM says that it plans on having 500,000 vehicles with "some form of electrification" on the road by 2017.
Scroll down for the full list of GM's million 30+ mpg cars as well as an informative press release.