It's nighttime in China, and Buick has just concluded an evening event the day before the first – and only – press day of the Shanghai Motor Show. The star of this evening's party was the Buick Riviera concept vehicle, a plug-in electric hybrid coupe that the automaker says gives a glimpse at its future design direction, not to mention resurrecting some nomenclature from the brand's history that includes a similarly named concept from 2007.
The shape of the Riviera is said to be inspired by water. While the traditional Buick "waterfall" grille is present, the front end gains a more aggressive note thanks to what appear to be vertical air inlets below each headlight.
As for the concept's drivetrain, Buick says it uses General Motors' new dual-mode wireless plug-in hybrid electric vehicle propulsion system, or W-PHEV for short. The keyword there is 'wireless,' as the Riviera can charge its onboard battery packs with a traditional cable or wirelessly via a "sensory recharge panel" underneath the car.
The car's other features include 10 high-res cameras and 18 micro high-precision sensors for image and distance monitoring of objects in the vehicle's path, which are then displayed on the inside of the windshield for the driver as a holographic image. Other electronic goodies include baked-in 4G LTE internet connection, night view assist, eagle view (like Nissan's Around View Monitor), full-range adaptive cruise control, an autopilot system and something Buick calls "transparent" A-pillars. A lot of this sounds like concept car hokum, but buried there somewhere beneath all that future-tech is an aesthetic Buick hopes will resonate with buyers, and maybe a production coupe it can sell in both China and the US.
Related GalleryBuick Riviera Concept: Shanghai 2013
New Buick Riviera Concept Vehicle Makes Global Debut
Merges avant-garde aesthetics and advanced technology
SHANGHAI – The new Buick Riviera concept vehicle made its global debut this evening in Shanghai.
The coupe combines avant-garde aesthetics and advanced technology, including plug-in hybrid electric vehicle propulsion, in a single package. It is the fourth global concept vehicle jointly developed by GM's Shanghai GM and Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC) joint ventures in Shanghai.
"The new Riviera offers a preview of Buick's future design language," said Shanghai GM President Ye Yongming. "By seamlessly integrating advanced technologies, flexible functions and contemporary aesthetics, the new Riviera heralds the start of a new chapter for the 110-year-old Buick brand."
Elegant Design Inspired by the Dynamic Nature of Water
The new Riviera's designers took inspiration from the Chinese saying: "The greatest good is like water." The vehicle's sweeping design, which goes from thick to thin, has the vibrant nature of a moving river embodied in its athletic shape, elegant ambience and deeply sculpted lines.
"Riviera is a design study of the future expression of Buick design with its elegant athletic shape, sculptural beauty, and precision execution," said Ed Welburn, GM vice president of global design. "It is a great opportunity to share Buick's future design language and technology strategy."
The concept's silhouette with Buick's recognizable "sweep spear" has a three-dimensional effect that resembles waves in the ocean coming to a standstill for a split second. Buick's unique gull-wing doors exude a dynamic yet elegant ambience. The new Riviera has an ice celadon finish inspired by jade.
Up front, the concept vehicle's updated waterfall grille and wing-shaped daytime running lights will both become key elements of Buick's future design DNA.
The new Riviera has a low drag coefficient and a harmonious balance between style and performance thanks to its raked windshield, 14-degree fastback design and metallic fiber spoiler, which are complemented by active grille shutters and diffusers, and active pneumatic wheels.
The interior carries on Buick's signature 360-degree integrated design with high levels of elegance and refinement. The eaglewood tone interior features the abundant use of refined materials such as sand-blasted aluminum alloy, lava suede and ebony used in a bold style reminiscent of traditional Chinese jade-inlaid wood. This creates a striking visual effect as well as a subdued sense of luxury.
The new Riviera's compact yet well-structured center console, front floating seats and adaptive seating system, as well as its noise-absorbing head restraint system, represent the best combination of interior design and elegance.
Innovative Propulsion, Infotainment and Safety Technology
The new Riviera has adopted BIP (Buick Intelligent Performance) technology. It is equipped with GM's all-new, dual-mode W-PHEV (wireless plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) propulsion system. The user can drive the car on green power in electric mode and enjoy the exhilarating handling and performance of a sports car while driving "green" in hybrid mode. In addition, the vehicle can be charged with a traditional cable or wirelessly via a sensory recharge panel on the car's chassis. The charging port is integrated into Buick's iconic porthole design.
The new Riviera is also equipped with intelligent four-wheel steering, an electromagnetic-controlled suspension and an air spring package for sure handling and comfort in extreme conditions.
The innovative mobile Internet system adopted in the new Riviera supports high-speed 4G LTE network use. The concept vehicle offers real-time traffic information, weather updates, and news and entertainment while communicating with other vehicles. The vehicle's voice commands and controls along with touch and gesture recognition activate a range of vehicle systems and enable seamless interaction between driver and vehicle.
The new Riviera employs a forward-looking active safety system that collects traffic information through 10 high-resolution cameras (for image monitoring) and 18 micro high-precision sensors (for distance monitoring). The information is integrated and presented in a holographic image onto the windshield.
The intelligent driver assist system provides occupants a high level of active safety and security. The system incorporates a variety of driver assist functions, including: an eagle view record system, night view assist, side blind-zone alert system, lane departure warning system, full-speed range-adaptive cruise control system, lane change assist system, parking assist system, rear cross-traffic alert system, autopilot system and "transparent" A pillars.
The new Riviera will be featured in the Buick display at Auto Shanghai 2013, which runs from April 20-29.