I must admit that in writing this I have yielded to one of my compulsions. Or two. This is about a Buick and it’s about GM. Sorry.
Previously I have discussed at huge length the relationship between China, Buick and Opel. At the moment the cross-currents flow from Germany to the US and China. The Astra platform is being used for the Buick Verano and the Insignia platform underpins the Buick Regal and Lacrosse. Now the current can flow from Detroit to Ruesselsheim.
At the Detroit motor show, GM’s design boss showed off the rather fabulous Buick Avenir concept which suggests that Buick might have what it takes to provide a donor car for Opel to turn into a Senator. The official GM website says “new design proportion, device integration, rejuvenating interior push brand forward” (sic).
Furthermore “Avenir embodies Buick design, which centers on effortless beauty and presence without pretense,” said Ed Welburn, vice president of General Motors Global Design. “It demonstrates the growing international reach of Buick and offers an exciting vision of where it can go.”
The article provides some details on the dimensions: Sculptural surfaces, taught [sic] lines, short overhangs and a broad-shouldered stance stretches 204.5 inches (5,195 mm) in length and 76 inches (1,931 mm) in width. Its reimagined sweep-spear element complements the long body lines and conveys a sense of motion, as does tapered rear-end styling.”
For comparison the Insignia is 4913 mm long, 1513 mm tall and 1856 mm wide, side to side (not including the mirrors). There is space then for this car in Opel’s range in terms of size and style. The coke-bottle hips even suggest the flanks of the Admiral of the 60s. Without much effort such a car as the Avenir could be Opelised to make a rather nice flagship for the German firm which, since 2003, has been bereft of a properly big car.
If this vehicle was based on GM’s large car architecture rather than on the Insignia it could avoid the pitfall of the last Senator which was that it was seen to be a modified Rekord and then a modified Omega “A”. The French website Le Guide de L’Auto puts the car’s prospects like this: “De toute évidence, l’Avenir n’est pas qu’un simple exercice de style. Buick prend effectivement la peine de préciser que cette grande berline serait propulsée par une nouvelle génération de V6 à injection directe, cylindrée variable et arrêt-redémarrage automatique.”
That Opel should be influenced by Buick is not far out of line with its history. The 60s and 70s Opels had a strong touch of Detroit and even the early 90s cars drew from GM’s form language to good effect. I can see an Opel badge in place of the Buick Tri-Shield without too much difficulty. Why should Opel bother with such an exercise?
Well, like Ford, they don’t have a premium brand in Europe to battle Audi and BMW. And a lot of other volume makers have abandoned the full-size car sector so, in many ways, Opel and indeed Vauxhall (if they bother) would have the field to themselves while Peugeot, Renault, Ford and others would lack entrants in this market and, apart from Ford, lack a possible donor vehicle to adapt hastily.