General Motors may have offloaded its Saturn brand but a replacement for one of its more popular models, the Aura mid-size sedan, will soon be arriving in North America--only it will be wearing a Buick badge.

The stylish Opel Insignia sedan was destined to serve as the replacement for the Saturn Aura but with the brand’s sale, GM executives have decided to sell it as the 2011 Buick Regal in the second quarter of 2010. The new car will be revealed for the first time, however, this Thursday at a special presentation in Los Angeles.

Armed with turbocharged horsepower, a driver-selectable suspension system and a firm, European-tuned chassis, it delivers a driving experience that rivals the best import sport sedans in the segment.

Targeting mid-tier premium models like the Acura TSX and upcoming 2010 Volvo S60, the new Regal comes in with a longer wheelbase and greater trunk volume than those vehicles, along with standard features--including a six-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch wheels and OnStar--that aren’t offered standard on either competitor.

The Regal’s development is rooted in Germany, where the globally led engineering team created the award-winning Opel Insignia--the 2009 European Car of the Year. The car has also been a success in China, where more than 64,000 have been sold since last December.

North American-spec models will initially be offered in premium CXL trim only, with additional trim levels to be offered in the 2012 model year. The standard powertrain option will be a 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque 2.4-liter direct-injected four-cylinder mill but a more potent 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected unit is due late next summer.

Both engines will have a 6-speed automatic transmission standard with driver-shifting control. Fuel economy is estimated at 30 mpg on the highway with the 2.4-liter unit and 29 mpg on the highway with the 2.0-liter turbo.

In addition to have more power, the 2.0-liter turbo will also be available with a new Interactive Drive Control System (IDCS) feature that offers driver-selectable suspension settings and automatic driver suspension setting adaptability. These models also get bigger 19-inch wheels.

IDCS continually monitors driving style utilizing yaw rate, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, steering wheel, throttle and vehicle speed, and then calculates optimal chassis reactions.

All four dampers are electronically controlled and continuously adapt within milliseconds, and the degree to which they change is adjustable by the driver, with Normal, Tour and Sport settings, with Sport being the firmest.

Other standard features include electronic stability control, dual-stage front air bags, side-curtain air bags and pedal-release (rear-seat thorax air bags are optional), as well as a 12-way power, leather and heated driver seat, a leather and heated passenger front seat, Bluetooth capability, XM Satellite Radio and OnStar. Optional goodies include a navigation system and a Harmon Kardon sound system with a 10 GB hard drive.

[General Motors]