Buick looks to a luxurious future with latest Avenir

2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir. - AFP pic
2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir. - AFP pic

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 9 —  The new 2018 Buick LaCrosse Avenir aims to marry styling, reliability and premium appointments as the GM company continues its push into the higher echelons of the automotive market.

Buick sees the Avenir badge (meaning ‘future’ in French) as more than simply indicating the car’s a top-of-the-range standing, but is instead fully committed to developing it into a luxury sub-brand, a move it began with the Enclave SUV. So, the LaCrosse Avenir gets exclusive external detailing, such as mesh grilles, with brightwork surround and “wings” emblem. It sits on 19-inch pearl nickel wheels as standard (20-inch Midnight silver rims are also available).

“For Avenir, we focused on maintaining the timelessness of the LaCrosse, while giving these customers subtle and tasteful details that elevate this car to a new level,” said Bob Boniface, global director of Buick Exterior Design.

As well as tweaked aesthetics, the car gets a chestnut leather interior complete with front seats boasting embroidered headrests, and pretty much every optional extra available across the LaCrosse range is found as standard. This includes a navigation system, a premium Bose surround sound system and a panoramic moonroof.

“Nine out of ten LaCrosse buyers are choosing one of the top two trim levels — a customers are signaling they want more from Buick,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global Buick and GMC.

“With even more content and an elegant look, Avenir adds a unique name and appearance for those who want the best of our attainable luxury.”

Indeed, the only options left to offer at extra charge are to do with powertrain and active safety. The Avenir will come with a 310hp V6 engine as standard, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. But for those that want a bit more driving fun, a twin-clutch all-wheel drive system can be specified, as can continuous variable real-time dampening control —  to stop the car bobbing or rolling in the corners but without offering a bone-shaking ride on smoother tarmac.

Buick is by no means the only company to look to the creation of a sub brand to move further up the automotive ladder. Toyota became a serious contender in the luxury car market when it created the Lexus sub-brand and in the US, Honda sells its highest specification and performance models under the Acura brand.

Meanwhile in Europe, Ford has created the Vignale sub-brand which offers every conceivable creature comfort on selected models and a level of customer service that is usually reserved for owners of Rolls-Royce and Bentley automobiles.

However, there is also a financial factor at work: by reducing the number of potential variations and options on any particular model, car companies can achieve economies of scale that essentially reduce production costs but without in any way negatively impacting on the quality of the finished automotive product.

The current generation Ford Fusion has an options list that runs to 35,000 potential combinations. But by understanding exactly what people want and don’t want, the company has been able to cut this list to 96 for the next generation model.

Likewise, in Europe, the new Volkswagen Polo, unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, is the first generation ever to come solely in four-door guise. It is no longer cost effective to offer the car as a two-door model with folding front passenger seats. — AFP-Relaxnews

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