Unveiled today in Shanghai, the Buick Riviera Concept with plug-in hybrid propulsion is said to signal the aesthetic direction of the General Motors brand.

The car merges electrification which is in vogue now in China into a chic styling exercise by a GM brand with greater perceived prestige.

It is the fourth global concept co-developed in Shanghai between GM’s Shanghai GM and Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC).

“The new Riviera offers a preview of Buick’s future design language,” said Shanghai GM President Ye Yongming. “By seamlessly integrating advanced technologies, flexible functions and contemporary aesthetics, the new Riviera heralds the start of a new chapter for the 110-year-old Buick brand.”

The silhouette of the exploration into future Buick shapes includes Buick’s familiar “sweep spear” that Buick says “has a three-dimensional effect that resembles waves in the ocean coming to a standstill for a split second.”

The inspiration for the design was a Chinese saying, “The greatest good is like water,” and a water theme is soaked in evoking confidence that this design is indeed good.

In front, the concept vehicle’s updated waterfall grille and wing-shaped daytime running lights will both become key elements of Buick’s future design DNA.

Its coefficient of drag is low and the balance will be between styling and performance. Its windshield is highly raked back, and in back is a 14-degree fastback design and metallic fiber spoiler.

These are complemented by active grille shutters and diffusers, and active pneumatic wheels.

Future Tech

The company is calling the propulsion system Buick Intelligent Performance (BIP). The concept comes with GM’s new dual-mode W-PHEV (wireless plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) propulsion system.

It can run all-electrically, or as a hybrid but no mention of a specific petrol engine was made today by GM. Charging is via a port integrated in the Buick’s porthole design, or it can be charged wirelessly.

The concept incorporates four-wheel steering and an electromagnetic-controlled suspension with an air spring package.

It’s fully connected too, via the 4G LTE network and includes a host of interactivity including real-time traffic information, weather updates, and news and entertainment, and it can communicate with other vehicles.

GM says voice commands and controls along with touch and gesture recognition activate a range of vehicle systems and enable seamless interaction between driver and vehicle.

A forward-looking safety system uses 10 high-resolution cameras to monitor images, and 18 high-precision sensors to monitor distance.

A holographic image is then displayed on the windshield of the integrated data collected in real time.

The driver assist system provides a high level of active safety and security. It uses driver assist functions, including: an eagle view record system, night view assist, side blind-zone alert system, lane departure warning system, full-speed range-adaptive cruise control system, lane change assist system, parking assist system, rear cross-traffic alert system, autopilot system and “transparent” A pillars.

Buick recently trademarked the “Riviera” name suggesting eventual production of a coupe with this name, but no immediate details on bringing the concept to market or a vehicle based upon it were released.