Riviera is indeed a French name, but Buick chose to unwrap an all-new Riviera coupe concept this morning in China on the eve of the 2013 Shanghai auto show.
Much like the gullwinged Riviera concept of 2007, this new Riviera concept is a long, and sensuous two-door coupe. Like that concept, this new Riviera is also the handiwork of GM’s design team based at its Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center in Shanghai.
The automaker says the concept not only pays homage to the brand's 110th birthday, but also looks towards its future.
“The new Riviera offers a preview of Buick’s future design language…and heralds the start of a new chapter for the 110-year-old Buick brand,” Ye Yongming, president of Shanghai GM, said in a prepared statement.
Although the two bear a passing resemblance to one another – the similar ice-blue paint certainly adds to that illusion – the new Riviera concept does differ considerably from the last show car. The front fascia is more taut and restrained than the last car – headlamps no longer stretch well into the front fenders, but instead are short and slender, and are accented with L-shaped LED accents. Buick’s familiar waterfall grille returns, but barely creeps into the muscular creased hood. Chunky light kickers again dominate the Riviera’s rocker sills, but they now carry into a line which arcs upward to form Buick’s signature “sweep-spear” cue, which forms the car’s curvaceous rear quarters.
According to Buick, designers took heed in a Chinese proverb suggesting “the greatest good is like water,” and gave the Riviera these curvaceous lines and wave-like surfaces in order to resemble “the vibrant nature of a moving river.”
The Riviera again uses long, gullwing doors – open them up, and you’ll find an interior design that allegedly “boasts a 360-degree integrated design,” according to Buick press lore. We’ve yet to see images of the completed cabin, but the new Riviera concept allegedly boasts sand-blasted aluminum alloy trim, lava-colored suede accents, ebony trim that bears a resemblance to traditional Chinese jade-inlaid wood, and front seats cantilevered from the center console. Riviera also boasts 4G wireless connectivity, along with “transparent A-pillars” that use forward-looking cameras to reveal objects normally obscured by the solid pillars.
Beneath the skin, the Riviera concept allegedly features a plug-in hybrid powertrain, but other than noting the system boasts cordless inductive charging, precise details are a bit scarce. The car also boasts four-wheel steering, air suspension, magnetorheological adaptive dampers, and a forward collision avoidance system that uses ten cameras and 18 “micro high-precision” proximity sensors. Riviera also allegedly packs a birds-eye view camera system, blind-zone warning system, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, parking assist functionality, and a lane-change assist system. Before you ask if the driver even has to worry about driving the Riviera his or her self, the concept also theoretically boasts an autopilot system, although GM has yet to describe the system in detail.
Buick suggests the Riviera is “a study of the future expression of Buick design,” but frankly, we think it could be a bit more than that. Buick’s portfolio – both here and in China – lacks a large luxury sedan that has the flash and panache of, say, a BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe or Mercedes-Benz CLS. We’ve heard some scuttlebutt that the Riviera concept could give way to a rear-drive, four-door coupe wearing the Riviera nameplate. The car could ride on either the Cadillac ATS/CTS’ Alpha platform or – of all things – the forthcoming Omega platform destined for use in Cadillac’s future flagship. Time will tell, but if approved for production, such a vehicle could be readied in time to launch in late 2015.