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Buick Avista Concept Stuns Detroit With Gorgeous Design, 400-HP Engine

A sportier, more realistic follow-up to the Avenir.

In case the Avenir concept shown this time last year didn’t convince you, the Buick Avista concept is here to prove that Buick can make sexy cars. A racy 2+2 coupe with a rear-wheel-drive chassis and a 400-hp engine, the Avista is meant to point the way forward for the Buick brand.

“To do a very expressive, emotional design was right for Buick,” says Ed Welburn, General Motors vice president for global design. “Buick’s at its best when it does very spirited design.”

Low and wide, the Buick Avista concept has an aggressive face with a gaping mesh grille, 20-inch wheels shod in Pirelli P-Zero rubber, squinting headlights, and powerful creases extending toward the windshield and front fenders. Graceful curves along the sides of the body, not unlike the profile of Jaguar’s F-Type coupe, produce massively flared rear fenders as the greenhouse tapers inward behind the rear seats. From behind, the Avista’s rounded rump features a subtle spoiler below the rear window, with chrome-trimmed exhaust outlets at the bottom corners of the fascia.

The Avista project began a little more than a year ago, says Welburn, with chief design work taking place at the GM Design Center in Warren, Michigan. “It really was a labor of love, with no time limits,” he says. “I think this is absolutely right-on for the brand.”

Within the gorgeous wrapper is an elegant four-place cabin that doesn’t look too extreme to eventually see the light of production. Touchscreens dominate the instrument cluster and center stack, and a large door opening permits somewhat easy ingress to the rear seats. Exposed carbon fiber and aluminum trim pieces decorate the interior.

The Avista’s wheelbase of 110.7 inches is exactly the same as that of the new Chevrolet Camaro, and its track widths match those of a Camaro SS, which are not-so-subtle hints that a production version of this Buick would ride on the sporty, lightweight Alpha chassis already used by the Camaro, Cadillac ATS, and Cadillac CTS. It’s long been rumored Buick could build a car upon the Alpha platform, which would be the only rear-drive Buick currently on sale.

Though the official word is that there’s no timeline for whether this model would reach showrooms, a sporty coupe like this would seriously rejuvenate the Buick brand. The division will launch seven new or refreshed cars by 2018 — of which the first three are the Envision crossover, LaCrosse sedan, and Cascada convertible — and it wouldn’t be a stretch to see the Avista among them.

Beneath the hood is a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 engine good for 400 hp, backed by an eight-speed automatic transmission. Cylinder deactivation and engine stop-start tech keep fuel consumption low. The Avista concept also has GM’s Magnetic Ride Control active suspension. That powertrain isn’t too far-fetched, given that the upcoming Cadillac CT6 will pack a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 rated for — you guessed it — 400 hp.

Regardless of how this concept gets translated to a production model, it’s intended to show that Buick can make more than just crossovers, says global Buick sales vice president Duncan Aldred.

“The Avista concept stretches the boundaries of what is possible for Buick,” he says.

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