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Buick's future flagship has us hoping for a Riviera revival

The freshly unveiled concept is called the Avenir, and it previews the future of design and tech for the Buick brand.

Avenir is means "future" in the French language. The concept, in fact, a preview of a future flagship for the Buick brand.Be sure to check out the rest of CNET's coverage of the 2015 Detroit auto show.
Josh Miller/CNET
Avenir is means "future" in the French language. Josh Miller/CNET

DETROIT -- On the drive into the 2015 Detroit auto show this morning, I joked to my colleagues that automaker Buick really should have a go at reviving the old Riviera. Imagine my surprise when I arrived to find that it had done just that: The freshly unveiled concept may be called the Avenir, but it's bold styling is all Riviera.

"Avenir" means "future" in French, indicating that the concept previews a future flagship for the premium brand. The broad strokes of the long, high hood and tapering tail are meant to be direct homages to the proportions of classic (read: pre-80s) Buick designs and models such as the Riviera. However, the details are purely modern, drawing from the automaker's current design language. The sedan features full LED lighting and loads of chrome brightwork (including 21-inch wheels). Look closely at the grille and you'll see that the concept also marks the return of the red, white and blue colors to the Buick tri-shield badge.

Under the ridiculously long hood is Buick's next-generation V-6 engine. Outside of the fact that it uses direct injection, cylinder deactivation and stop-start tech, the automaker doesn't give details about displacement, efficiency or output. Power flows from the engine to a nine-speed automatic transmission on its way to all four contact patches via a twin-clutch all-wheel drive system. A driver-selectable adaptive suspension helps keep the ride quality in check.

Being an early concept, the automaker simply wouldn't let us go climbing into the ultra-luxe cabin on the show floor, but we're told that the dashboard features the next version of Buick's IntelliLink infotainment, OnStar 4G LTE connectivity and telematics and wireless smartphone charging. A driver-recognition system automatically adjusts to the user's music preferences, calendar schedule and recently visited locations from their smartphone's navigation software.

The tapered rear end reminds me quite a bit of a previous Buick flagship, the Riviera. Josh Miller/CNET

Buick also wants to connect its future cars to home-automation technology, envisioning a future where the Avenir can automatically turn on outside lights, close the garage door, and lock up the house when leaving.

It wouldn't be beyond imaging the future flagship prowling the boulevard within the next few years; the show car isn't so wild in concept. However, the automaker hasn't stated when, if ever, we'll see a production model based on this design. Be sure to check out the rest of CNET's coverage of the 2015 Detroit auto show.

Now playing: Watch this: Buick Avenir Concept