2008 Detroit Auto Show: Buick Riviera Concept
What it is
2008 Detroit Auto Show - Buick Riviera Concept: When General Motors unveiled the Buick Riviera Concept at the Shanghai Auto Show in 2007, it was saying two things. First, it was saying that it sells a LOT of Buicks in China, and intends to solidify its commitment to the country with this China-designed coupe. Second, it was telling the world that Buick is back, baby, and it's going to be the source of some beautiful cars. It did not say when or even whether the Concept would become a reality any time soon, but if it does, we hope it comes to our side of the Pacific, and doesn't stay a Chinese plaything.
Why it Matters
Buick is rebuilding its U.S. image with cars like the Enclave, but its image in China couldn't be better. The Riviera signifies that the Chinese branch of GM will continue to be an integral part of the company in coming years, and that we may even see a few Chinese-designed cars heading our way. The debut in China was surprising to some industry watchers, but the fact that the car is coming to the Detroit show gives us hope that we'll get our own Riviera some day.
What's Under the Hood
Nobody knows what powers the Riviera Concept, and considering that it’s purely a concept, it could be anything GM says it is. In the original materials, GM talked about hybrid powertrains, which it may eventually build in China. However, if a production version ever appears, we hope it sports the powertrain from the Cadillac CTS: A 300-horsepower direct-injection V-6 with a six-speed manual or automatic powering the rear wheels.
What it Looks Like
The Riviera Concept is far and away one of the most beautiful cars to come out of GM’s design studios anywhere. There are sweeping curves, muscular fenders, smoothly integrated contours, and a Buick waterfall grille that is finally perfectly sized for the car that it’s on. We see a little bit of Z in the profile, but otherwise this is a unique shape, with clever styling touches like Buick badges that glow blue, and gullwing doors, a favorite of concept car makers.
The Riviera Concept’s interior is modern and distinctive, if a little tight looking from some angles. Still, the hand-stitched blue and white leather, aluminum accents and combination of curves make for an elegant and classy cockpit, even if it will never make it to production. The roof has two shaded glass windows for increased headroom and a virtually topless feel, while the center console stack is topped by a thin, narrow LCD.
What Buick Says
In Shanghai, GM Global Design vice president Ed Welburn said, “"Developing and launching the Riviera in China underscores the diversity, strength and depth of the GM global design network. It also reflects PATAC's growing role within the GM Design family and China's significance as the world's largest Buick market." He also mentioned the return of the Riviera nameplate to the world, and said, “"The Riviera concept certainly lived up to the nameplate's reputation.”
What We Think
The Riviera Concept struck us as a stunning vehicle, and we’ll be honest and say we were surprised that such a mature design came out of GM’s Chinese studios. The debut of the concept in Detroit tells us that maybe the concept will make it to reality some day.
By Keith Buglewicz