The Buick Avista concept was the star of the Detroit auto show, taking home the EyesOn Design best concept car award – the second for the brand in as many years. The low-slung 2+2 seat concept was well deserving of the win.

Developed to explore the bandwidth of the Buick brand, it pays tribute to the company’s sport luxury coupe lineage while also showcasing an evolution of the marque’s signature design elements.

The exterior design is beautifully proportioned, with a low, sweeping roofline and a Coke-bottle silhouette in plan view. The surfaces flow seamlessly into one another, accentuated by elegant lines with just the right amount of tension; and the rear haunches communicate the powerful rear wheel drive sport GT nature of the car, which sources power from a twin-turbocharged V6 engine delivering 400hp.

“Performance and refinement are the hallmarks of the Buick brand,” says exterior design manager Chip Thole. “We wanted to create a vehicle that captured that essence, and a two-door coupe with these proportions is a great canvas on which to communicate that message.”

The grille is adorned with a new wing motif, flanked by an evolution of the brand’s signature wing-shaped headlamps with a sculptural 3D aesthetic. The theme is also repeated on the rear lamps. Buick’s defining sweep spear design detail is still present but has been reinterpreted, as has the treatment of the signature vent on the front fender.

The sport meets luxury union is depicted in elements such as the carbon fiber trim in the front spoiler, around the rear exhaust outlets and in the door, the latter only visible when it is open.

As with the exterior, the interior conveys performance and elegance in its simplicity, color contrast and technical details. Light colored leather interplays with a darker, grey hide with blue undertones, whilst carbon fiber with titanium thread adorns the steering wheel and center console. “We wanted it to be performance-oriented but also calm and relaxing, give a sense of well being so it’s not overwhelming,” says Catherine Black, Buick’s lead color and trim designer. “We were also looking at something that would support the layering, depth and sculptural elements of the forms.”

The textured 3D printed material used on the gear shift, the door and the back of the seats was “inspired by the ripple effect of sand as it washes back down a beach,” says Aaron Stitch, the interior’s lead creative designer. “The first read is the broad sweeping lines of the interior; the second is the technical materials, the aluminum; and the tertiary read is the material within that the customer interacts with.”

The widescreen display on the IP is modern and performance-oriented, eschewing skeuomorphic design for clarity whilst providing three different modes controlled via the center console touchscreen. The Avista is another very strong concept from a brand that has been reinvigorated in the past few years. The blend of performance and luxury has been so accurately executed that it instills a sense of harmony between these otherwise conflicting worlds. It deserves all the accolades it receives.

The article continues in A&D no. 217