The Buick Avista looks rather unremarkable on first acquaintance and that, you feel, is perhaps the point. “We’re not aiming to be flashy or shock people,” says strategic design manager Bregt Ectors. “This is about changing people’s perceptions of what a Buick might be.” And while Ectors might not agree with our comments that the Avista has a very European flavour, nor is it what we expect a rear-drive American coupe to be.
It’s telling that a number of the designers referenced Aston Martin when describing their aims and the exterior certainly has a strong Aston influence in its proportions and bodyside graphics. But that’s not to say it’s an Aston crib – there’s a growing sense that Buick is quietly developing an appealingly sophisticated brand character that was first shown in last year’s Avenir concept. Perhaps a little more confidence in its own direction might have avoided some of the inevitable “it looks a bit like a…” comments we’ve been hearing.
But there’s no denying it has a handsome, beautifully-surfaced exterior that is brought alive by the fabulous deep blue paintwork that looks like a flat colour, but in fact has microscopic metallic flakes to give it a very strong flop.
This colour, alongside those used in the interior were the work of colour and trim designer Catherine Black, and this aspect really brings the whole story together. The mixture of blue and grey colourways is very nicely handled and encapsulates the idea that Buick is a sophisticated, understated brand for grown-ups.
And the more you look the more there is to appreciate – the 3D-printed material encased in acrylic is a development of that in the Avenir and works even better. It brings the sense of a precious, almost natural material to the door pulls, gear sector and seats while feeling utterly fresh. The graduated embossed pattern in the leather adds to the effect, while the tastefully-used carbon has a titanium weave through it that adds a depth and sparkle to diffuse its often industrial aesthetic. This is used again around the rear lower mask and lamp units. Meanwhile the lamp inserts feature the same motif as the interior 3D-printed finishers, tying the whole thing together.
“Our brief was to design a car for the perfect drive,” says interior designer John McDougall. “For us it was the sense of well-being you get by driving European mountain roads.” The intention, then, was to design a mature, sophisticated and understated gran turismo and that’s exactly what the team has achieved.