2017 Buick Riviera Smart Concept
China is Buick’s biggest market, so it makes sense for the automaker to debut its latest concept at the Shanghai auto show. The resurrection of the storied Riviera name, however, caught us a bit by surprise, especially considering Buick had applied the badge to a concept car some six years ago.
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Designed by Shanghai GM and the GM/SAIC joint venture Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), the plug-in hybrid concept is said to be "a design study of the future expression of Buick," thereby foreshadowing the brand’s design language worldwide.
GM says the team of Asia-based designers who penned the Riviera concept took inspiration from the saying “The greatest good is like water.” Although Chinese in origin, you don’t need to be a foreign-studies major to decipher how the sentiment translated into the Riviera’s sheetmetal: Simply put, it flows, and with the exception of the fender lips and a lower character line, the surface tension ebbs and swirls in a soft, fluid manner.
Yet the vehicle still maintains a low-slung and sweeping presence, having more in common with the Rivs of yore than anything currently in the Buick portfolio. A refined version of Buick’s familiar waterfall grille is framed by wing-shaped daytime running lamps, which the maker says will become key elements of Buick's future design DNA.
A glass-intensive fastback design—angled at 14 degrees—balances the steeply raked windshield, and gullwing doors provide the wow factor, but don’t expect either to make the transition from show stand to production in any new Buick. Oddly, in certain specific profile views, the Riviera looks to us like a mix of 1973 Mustang fastback morphed with a current Aston Martin Vantage. Buick calls the jade-inspired monochromatic blue-green exterior finish “Ice Celadon.” Overall, the styling is a logical extension of the very similar and PATAC-designed Riviera concept from 2007.