Incorporating time-honored Buick design hallmarks like the sweep-spear profile, Ventiports, and even a subtle boattail rear-end, the four-place sedan is powered by a surprisingly real-world powertrain – namely a next-generation V6 with cylinder deactivation and stop/start, with the most interesting part of the driveline arguably being a "twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system" and a nine-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters.
Make no mistake, this is a big car. At 204.5 inches long, it's longer than a standard-wheelbase Cadillac Escalade – a span that's emphasized by the car's long hood and waterfall grille – though it's not quite as wide.
While clearly a showcar, the beautifully crafted interior looks largely produceable, including attributes like a next-generation 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system and 4G LTE wifi, but we suspect a production car would pick up a third rear seatbelt and give away some of its flowing contours that are said to have been "inspired by nature and sea waves receding on a beach."
No word yet on whether there's actually a showroom future for a car like this – it could simply be an exercise designed to test the waters for a next-generation LaCrosse. After all, sedans aren't exactly popular concept fodder these days, especially as crossovers continue to eat into traditional sedan sales in many of the world's markets. However, China still loves the coddling rear seats of a proper four-door sedan (which in this case include silk and bamboo elements), and with a majority of Buick sales happening in the People's Republic, the Asian nation controls the destiny of this General Motors brand. Said another way? Anything is possible, especially with General Motors known to be working on a large flagship sedan for Cadillac already – the Avenir is reportedly based on the same Omega architecture that will underpin the forthcoming CT6.
What do you think? Is this a promising direction for the resurgent Buick? Scroll through our gallery, check out the video, and then have your say in Comments.
Buick Explores Future with Avenir Concept
New design proportion, device integration, rejuvenating interior push brand forward
DETROIT – Buick introduced the Avenir concept today in advance of the North American International Auto Show – a flagship sedan exploring progressive design with new levels of passenger well-being and technology integration.
The Avenir – French for future – is distinguished by its premium sports proportions and all-new interpretations of traditional Buick cues. It is the creation of a global team of Buick designers and sculptors who were inspired by historic Buick concepts, which pushed traditional boundaries, shaped future Buick models and influenced the entire auto industry.
"Avenir embodies Buick design, which centers on effortless beauty and presence without pretense," said Ed Welburn, vice president of General Motors Global Design. "It demonstrates the growing international reach of Buick and offers an exciting vision of where it can go."
The Avenir's sculptural surfacing, expressive proportion and Buick's signature sweep-spear bodyside visually cue an exceptional driving experience that awaits inside.
"The interior is designed with the driver and passengers' comfort and well-being in mind," said Welburn. "Technology is seamlessly integrated and builds on the features that have become hallmarks for today's production models – helping drive a new generation of customers to Buick."
Additional vehicle highlights:
Personal seating for four
Full light-emitting diode (LED) exterior lighting
Next-generation direct-injected V-6 engine with fuel-saving Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation) and stop/start technology
Nine-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission
Driver-selectable suspension damping
Twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system
Next-generation Buick IntelliLink infotainment with large, 12-inch-diagonal color touch screen
Driver-recognition features that automatically sync infotainment preferences
Ionic cabin air filtration
Mobile device wireless charging
OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot.
A new design direction with a nod to the past
A long hood, wheels-at-the-corners stance and a sloping, rear deck that pays homage to historical models, such as the Riviera, distinguish the Avenir's proportion.
"Simply put, Avenir is a beautiful piece of sculpture, delivered on a premium proportion that acknowledges the Buick design heritage in a very progressive way," said Michael Simcoe, vice president of design, GM International Operations. "The vehicle remains unmistakably Buick with a modern take on the traditional Buick cues such as the sweep spear and boattail. The result is a piece of artistry that is precise in its character, beautifully proportioned. It really takes your breath away."
The most striking departure from contemporary Buick models is a new grille design that puts a new face on the brand. It features a large opening accented by a return to the three-color – red, silver and blue – Buick tri-shield insignia, accented by wing-shaped elements. The grille is flanked by bold headlamps featuring full LED lighting.
"The new grille is a modern interpretation of a design introduced on the landmark 1954 Wildcat II concept, which shattered expectations of what a Buick was supposed to be," said Simcoe. "On the Avenir, it represents a break from convention and progressiveness in technology."
Sculptural surfaces, taught lines, short overhangs and a broad-shouldered stance stretches 204.5 inches (5,195 mm) in length and 76 inches (1,931 mm) in width. Its reimagined sweep-spear element complements the long body lines and conveys a sense of motion, as does tapered rear-end styling.
Avenir's sophisticated color palette, including a Crystalline exterior color and strained use of bright work accent the Avenir's body lines and sets up the interior for a combination that takes Buick's contemporary style to a higher level.
"It's a sculpted design with a lot of snap in the character lines – with a classic long, low proportion," said Simcoe. "Its length enables exceptional spaciousness inside, but just as importantly, a presence that speaks to luxury and the importance of style. In short, it's the befitting proportion for a Buick flagship."
A soothing environment with unprecedented integration
The Avenir's four-place interior rewards the senses, makes managing technologies easier and enhances the feelings of personal space and well-being.
"A flowing, sculptural quality in the interior forms, deco trim, premium leather and ambient lighting, create an environment that is inviting and comfortable," said Liz Wetzel, Buick interior design director.
Interior surfaces - inspired by nature and sea waves receding on a beach - flow seamlessly through the cabin. It is a motif featured on the seats and carried through in other trim components – even the carpet. In fact, a patterned insert for the carpet carries the motif in silk and bamboo.
"There's an almost-three-dimensional or bas-relief effect to the design motif that adds depth and heightens the sense of place," said Wetzel. "Layered and floating elements such as the center console enhance the perception of lightness, efficiency and dynamism."
A color palette of light and natural tones blended with oiled and buffed wood trim, and Galvano satin-chrome accents, enhance the Avenir's ambience.
"They're rich, premium materials and warm colors innovatively executed to enhance the soothing effect of the interior environment," said Wetzel.
Functionality is manifested in the Avenir's device-integration technologies, which are designed to lift the user's mood and make the details associated with daily life a little easier. It starts the moment the vehicle is started, synchronizing information and devices within seconds. The Avenir instantly configures gauge cluster and infotainment screen displays based on prior customization while also recognizing the user's music preferences, calendar schedule and recently visited locations from a cellphone's GPS. It can even pick up a podcast the user was listening to at the moment it was interrupted.
Buick's user experience designers are also pushing the Avenir's technologies for home integration, which would allow accessing home security cameras or the capability of turning on outside lights and closing a garage door that was inadvertently left open.
"The Avenir's integration features build on the technologies already available or coming soon in smartphones and streamline them in a system that makes accessing and interacting with them easier," said Wetzel.
Personal connectivity extends to rear-seat passengers, where USB ports and video screens allow occupants to plug in to their favorite media and slip into complete relaxation, arriving at their destination refreshed and rejuvenated.
"The use of color, material, form and amenities can affect a person's mood and feeling," said Wetzel. "The Avenir is a showcase of thoughtful and modern design with the capacity to anticipate and facilitate the personal needs of its occupants. It's absolutely its own getaway destination."
Buick is an international modern luxury brand offering vehicles with sculpted designs, luxurious interiors and thoughtful personal technologies, along with responsive-yet-efficient performance. Buick is attracting new customers with its portfolio of award-winning luxury models in North America and China. Learn more about Buick cars and crossovers at www.buick.com, on Twitter @buick, on Instragram, on Pinterest or at www.facebook.com/buick
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