The first big surprise of the 2016 Detroit Auto Show landed on Sunday.
Buick pulled the cover off its Avista concept car.
This really is something different for a brand that less than a decade ago was considered a purveyor of boring not-luxury vehicles that General Motors was keeping around mainly because of its fantastic reputation in China.
Fast forward to 2016 and Buick has staged an impressive comeback. And the Avista is symbolic of just how much more confidence GM has in itself, post-bailouts and post-bankruptcy.
If you think of sloshy sedans and rebadged GMC SUVs when you think of Buick, the Avista concept should change your mind. Sure, it’s a concept car and unlikely to be built in the stylish form that Buick showed in Detroit. But the whole point of concepts is to establish fresh dreams in consumers’ imaginations.
“There is elegant simplicity in the Avista’s surfaces, which speak to the purity of the car’s performance, and a timeless beauty that’s a hallmark of Buick design,” said Bryan Nesbitt, executive director Global Buick Design, said in a statement.
“It was designed to capture the spirit of the perfect drive,” he added.
It does look like it would fun to take on an early evening cruise along a coastal road. Technically, the Avista is a 2+2, meaning that there’s room in the front for driver and passenger and room in the back for two very small additional adults, or two children. Or, really, nothing. Maybe a pair of cashmere sweaters and a digital camera. Effectively, this is a chariot built for couples.
Power would come from a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. We enjoyed this engine greatly in the Buick Regal GS – it’s sporty and responsive.
In keeping with prevailing auto industry trends, the Avista’s interior is high-tech and sculptural, swoopy and flowing.
Buick hasn’t really considered a car like this since the Reatta of the late 1980s, a sleek two-seater whose total production amounted to only just over 21,000, but that’s still an eye-catcher today if you spot on the street.
All in all, a bold statement from Buick, which has been faring well in the current booming US auto market by selling crossover SUVs. You can’t help but get the sense the GM’s oldest brand is back and ready to show that we might not have seen anything yet.