Saturday, June 2, 2007

Buick Riviera Concept

Believe it or not, Buick-one of America's oldest car brands-actually sells more units in China than in the States. Of course, Buick also has a wider product line in China, with everything from a rebadged Suzuki Reno hatchback to a minivan. To show its love for its loyal Asian buyers, Buick decided not only to have its Chinese studio design this new concept, but also to debut the car in Shanghai.

The Riviera concept revives a name that hasn't been seen since the last generation car died in 1999, and it's a very important nameplate for Buick. When the original Riv' was unveiled in 1963, it blew the world away with its elegant, timeless design. It is still looked at as one of GM's best designs of all time, and the car was even on our "25 Most Beautiful Cars" list in September of 2006. This new design is meant to bring some excitement back to the Buick brand, not just in China, but around the world - the Riviera demonstrates a new design language that will be used on all future models.

Based on GM's Epsilon architecture, the Riviera concept is about the size of a Pontiac G6 and uses a hybrid powertrain (heading to production in China next year) driving the front wheels. Those may seem like the wrong drive wheels for a sports coupe, but there has also never been a rear-drive Riviera. The body is made completely out of carbon fiber, other than the glass roof, and the doors swing up gullwing-style to show an elegant cabin with 2+2 seating. Twenty-one-inch wheels and badges that glow at night add great details to the car's appearance. Some Buick fans might think that this concept is too sporty for the brand, but we think that Buick needs a change. Just as the original Riviera looked to the future and brought some soul back to Buick, this concept looks at a changing market and, if it sees production, might just save the fledgling brand here in its motherland.

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