GM has revealed its big new Avenir sedan concept in Detroit this week, opening the door to an obvious question: will it come to Australia?
Designed as a collaborative effort between GM North America and the local Holden arm, the Avenir was built at the company's Port Melbourne studios.
“The designers in Australia understood the essence of Buick’s design language just as well as those in America, which fostered a more cohesive collaboration between teams, with seamless integration,” GM Global Design Vice President, Ed Welburn, said.
Well known is that the Port Melbourne design centre is one of just two global GM studios capable of developing a concept and constructing a functional show car.
That studio has previously been involved with models like the Cruze hatch, a performance-focused preview of the Barina, the big Colorado pickup and, most famously, the Chevrolet Camaro - among others.
The new Avenir concept is described as a design study that previews the future of Buick’s styling.
GM International Design chief Michael Simcoe, an Australian and the former boss of Holden’s own design studios, said that the Port Melbourne team is tuned into the Buick brand’s styling needs.
“Time and distance are always factors in the design process, but the teams’ understanding of the project brief and the sculptural essence of Buick transcended the time zones,” Simcoe said.
And, despite the Buick badging and GM North America / Australia credits, the Avenir’s styling suggests we can expect any final production model to be shared with European stablemate Opel.
“This project has been particularly special as it is the first time the team here in Australia have built a Buick concept for an International motor show,” GM Australia’s Creative Hard Modelling boss said.
But can we expect to see the Avenir in Australia as one of the numerous new Opel-sourced models destined for our shores as local production winds down?
As a big V6-powered, nine-speed, all-wheel-drive sedan, the Avenir certainly has the makings of a classy replacement for the Commodore.
However, its extra-large proportions suggest it could also replace the spacious Caprice.
Holden sales boss Peter Keley told TMR in August last year that the Caprice will not have a successor, but the Avenir could nonetheless prove a tempting rival to Hyundai’s new Genesis in the battle for private and hire-car sales.
As for the Commodore, a report with The New Zealand Herald in August last year suggests the big sedan’s replacement won’t be any larger than the current model.
Likewise, sedan and wagon bodies are expected to be offered with the Commodore’s replacement, suggesting that a next-generation Opel Insignia - likely larger than the current midsized model - could take on the job.
Holden remains predictably tight-lipped on the subject, and so long as the Avenir remains a ‘design study’, details on its production potential will be thin on the ground.
If nothing else, it is certain that the Avenir was developed with a focus on the Chinese market, where demand for the Buick brand - and extra legroom in the rear - is strongest.