Earlier this year, Buick graced the show circuit with the sinewy, svelte Avista concept. From a brand that has been saddled with a reputation for having the emotional passion of wet cardboard, the Avista was a stunning display of Buick’s design chops and a gentle reminder that the subdued soft-luxury nameplate can still pull punches. Except, it won’t be.
“It was purely a concept and meant to generate some buzz,” chief marketer Tony DiSalle told Wards Auto. “No other plans for now.” DiSalle said that though the enthusiasm around the Avista at the show was “outstanding,” “phenomenal,” and “unreal,” public reception wasn’t enough to persuade General Motors’ execs to let Buick build it.
And that, my friends, is a crying shame.
See, the Buick Avista wasn’t a moonshot for Buick — at worst, it’s a significant financial risk. It was built on GM’s Alpha platform, which underpins the Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac ATS and CTS. The 3.0 liter twin-turbo V6 that would produce 400 horsepower in the Avista is pulling duty in the Cadillac CT6. The Avista, then, is a parts-bin car.
The Avista could have been what the 1M was to BMW. Despite its piecemeal assembly from parts cribbed from numerous other models, the 1M is regarded as one of the greatest-driving BMWs in history. The Avista is what could have brought Buick back to its glory days, but it turns out that the public just isn’t interested.
There were whispers that Buick could use the Avista as a foundation for a four-door sedan to replace the Regal, something that DiSalle took note of. “Regal is the athlete in our lineup, and in fact Regal owners are our lowest-age buyers at 47 years old,” he told Wards. “Regal is a premium sedan in the midsize-car segment, and while the growth now is in crossovers, Regal is still very important because the midsize segment is huge and we need a volume car in that segment. Speculation about Regal is just that, speculation.”
However, DiSalle conceded that while the Avista was mainly a style exercise for Buick, the brand will take cues from the Avenir concept first — evident with the introduction of the new LaCrosse. “Avinir shows the new front-end styling at Buick (that) first shows up in the ʼ17 LaCrosse and will be on all our vehicles over the next two years,” he said.
We’ll look forward to that — the Avenir is very elegant — while we cry into our oatmeal every morning and mourn the Buick performance coupe that was never meant to be.