Looks like: A little Mustang, a little Mercedes, a lot of Buick
Defining characteristics: Sweeping front fenders and a pillarless side window
Ridiculous features: None, really
Chance of being mass produced: There’s no reason why not
At an event on the eve of the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Buick stunned the crowd with a surprise in the form of a gorgeous concept car, the Avista coupe.
Related: More 2016 Detroit Auto Show Coverage
A low-slung 2+2 grand touring coupe, the Avista is meant to push the boundaries of what people expect from Buick. There was a time not long ago when Buick performance cars were truly fearsome and respected, and Buick coupes like the Riviera were equally admired for their beautiful design and avant-garde styling. After feeding us a steady diet of crossover SUVs and snoozer family sedans, however, Buick needed to make a splash in order to stand out among the near-luxury competitors like Acura and Infiniti. Avista is meant to do that.
It sits on a rear-wheel-drive chassis with the exact same wheelbase and track as the new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, and it frankly shares a lot of the Camaro’s proportions. What it doesn’t share is the Camaro’s powertrain – the Avista is powered by a new twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6, smaller than the 3.6-liter turbo engines found in the Cadillac ATS and CTS. Buick says that it cranks out 400 horsepower, and features both cylinder deactivation and stop/start functions for improved fuel economy. The Avista sends power to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, and employs GMs’ excellent Magnetic Ride Control active electronic suspension that the automaker puts on everything from the Chevy Corvette to the Cadillac CTS-V sport sedan.
The car’s styling is the main draw, however, with a swoopy, rakish look that is truly sensational. There are elements of the Ford Mustang in some of the front grille shapes and the roofline as well, but the details of the car are borrowed from other Buick models, such as the fender adornments and the hook-style head- and taillights.
Inside, it wears a sweeping dashboard most recently seen on the updated LaCrosse sedan, but taken to a new extreme, with 3-D-printed door and seat trim, and a center console that incorporates touch-screen controls. Buick has also worked to make the passenger experience as comfortable as possible with active noise cancellation, ionic air purifiers in the climate control and “aromatherapy.”
There’s no word on whether Buick will bring the Avista to production, but there’s nothing in the car that would prevent it from being built if the automaker decides to go through with it. It would certainly differentiate Buick from competitors like Acura, Lincoln or even Audi — none of which field a rear-wheel-drive platform (with the exception of the Lamborghini-shared Audi R8). The Avista looks good — here’s hoping Buick builds it.