In the midst of a rather uneventful North American International Auto Show, Buick stunned the industry with the jaw-dropping Avista Concept. This rear-wheel drive, insanely sexy coupe showcased a side of Buick we haven’t seen since the days of the Grand National…you know, back before I was even on Earth. Having followed General Motors for the last decade, I’m ready to assert that this is one concept that will make it into production.
Rumors of a rear-wheel-drive Buick coupe are not new. I’ve been hearing talk of this really since the Buick brand became a priority inside GM, which happened right after bankruptcy. There a lot of internal forces at play that are yielding this. For starters, I’ve always been told Buick actually makes money, which seems like a really good, tangible reason to give the brand fun cars that may not necessarily make or break the corporate financial statement.
Most of the rumors I’ve always heard surrounded the concept of a return of the Grand National on GM’s Alpha architecture. This hypothetical would basically serve as the brand’s flagship to gain it credibility beyond that of a cushy premium brand, but also as a brand that really does have some performance pedigree in it.
There’s also the fact that GM product boss Mark Reuss is a big Buick fan. In fact, he’s stated on the record more than a couple times that he wants to see some exciting products wearing the Buick tri-shield. Having witnessed Mark at countless product reveals over the years, I can’t recall a time I’ve seen him more excited over a reveal than he was the other night at the Avista reveal. Even GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra seemed incredibly excited to show the world the sexy two-door that was spawned from GM Design, and rightfully so.
In theory the sexy Buick is based on the Alpha architecture since it has an identical wheelbase to the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. This is unsurprising because my speculation is that the Alpha program is going to need more production scale than Camaro alone can provide. Granted, the Cadillac ATS and CTS are both based on this architecture, however the Caddy’s are not hitting the volume target assumptions that GM developed the Alpha architecture under. GM won’t admit that, but that’s the word on the street and sales numbers, at the end of the day, don’t lie. The ATS and CTS simply are not big sellers; at least not big enough to justify the rumored $2 billion investment that yielded them.
Additionally, the whole Buick-Opel collaboration is also an interesting proposition for this car. Ford is bringing the new Mustang to Europe, yet Chevrolet is not bringing the new Camaro across the pond. No surprise since GM seems to always use the right-hand drive excuse as to why Europe does not get North American derived products, but also an indicator that perhaps this hypothetical Buick coupe could go to Europe as an Opel. Hell, it should!
At the end of the day this is the speculation of someone who’s followed the organization for awhile. We may or may not get a production version of the Avista, but my money is one the latter. And if we do, I expect to see it sooner rather than later…as in 2018.