2008 Buick Invicta Concept
Buick has taken the design of its Riviera concept, shown in Shanghai last year, and evolved it into a mid-size sedan for the U.S. and China. Designers from both countries worked together with the goal of creating a truly global vehicle that they hope can't fail.
The concept's name comes from the Latin word for 'invincible' and was used for a short time in the U.S. as recently as 1963. The Invicta takes the Riviera coupe's general design and adds two more doors creating another vehicle in the previously oxymoronic four-door coupe category.
Using virtual reality in Warren, Mich., and in Shanghai, designers collaborated to create a modern, flowing form that also incorporates themes from Buick's heritage. The cat-eye headlamps and wraparound taillamps are connected along the body side by the sweepspear design cue popularized on 1940s Buicks. The familiar Buick portholes are placed not on the fenders but instead atop the hood. The Invicta has three portholes per side and is therefore a "three-holer," a term historically used to differentiate between the pricier models ("four-holers") and those that cost less.
The concept's high beltline and consequently small side glass openings help to further impart the coupe look. Buick says the grille design was borrowed from the Velite concept first shown at the 2004 New York auto show. The polished aluminum wheels measure a concept-oversized 20 inches and would most likely shrink to 17 or 18 inches for a production car.
The interior gets the same cohesive, flowing design treatment as the exterior with the doors carrying into the instrument panel, which in turn waterfalls down the center console. The interior does a good job of incorporating current GM switchgear and looks nearly production-ready. A glass roof covers 100 cubic feet of passenger space.
Power comes from Buick's first turbocharged and direct-injected engine. The four-cylinder makes 250 hp and 220 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine is most likely a version of GM's turbo Ecotec that was first shown in the Pontiac Solstice GXP and Saturn Sky Red Line roadsters and now finds a home in SS models of Chevrolet's Cobalt and HHR.
When a production version arrives in the States it will likely replace the current LaCrosse. Buick's mid-size sedan may keep the LaCrosse name, or possibly adopt the Invicta badge. If the latter is chosen, Buick had better be very confident that the sedan will match the brand's success in China.