Buick has spent the last five years drastically overhauling its lineup and its public image. In 2015, Buick unveiled the Avenir concept car. With its dark grille, split-wing badge, and sharp LED lights, the car’s front fascia made a bold first impression and blended well into the graceful architecture and chamfered hood. The stunning Avenir, coincidentally, French for “future;” set down a marker for Buick’s future design language. Thereafter, the brand has only released attractive and compelling vehicles like the new Regal. But, with last month’s exhibition of the Enspire Electric concept, Buick is taking things even further.
Enspire Electric Crossover
All right, let’s start with the basics. The Enspire’s battery pack, a 410kW unit, boasts 550 horsepower, making it a true high-performance vehicle. And with the nearly instant acceleration of electric motors, you can blast from 0-60 mph in four seconds with power going to all four wheels. And, with a 600-kilometre driving range, you never have to worry about running out of energy. When you do, you can recharge up to 80% capacity in just 40 minutes. With those ultra-modern specs, you also get some ultra-modern features.
It’s also the first non-Cadillac vehicle to use GM’s Super Cruise technology. As long as the driver remains attentive, Super Cruise maintains the vehicle’s speed, following distance, and lane position automatically. It’s one of the best semi-autonomous systems available. Perhaps more impressively, the entire windshield of the Enspire is a head-up display. OLED technology projects vital information and navigation directions in front of you, so you don’t have to look at the dash. If you did, you’d see a long, sleek digital display.
Many people don’t realise the importance of the Chinese market to the Buick brand. In the United States last year, Buick sold just over 200,000 vehicles. Meanwhile, Buick sold 1.2 million in China. The American brand has prestige overseas, something it’s been fighting for back home. Further, the Chinese government has much stricter regulations concerning ICE vehicles and their emissions, so EV adoption has been much swifter. Therefore, it’s not surprising, that Buick would choose to unveil its impressive crossover in Beijing.
Will the Enspire ever make it production? Anything is possible. The styling isn’t too outré, at least by concept standards. Although, the wing cameras and lack of handles likely wouldn’t survive the prototype phase. And the interior isn’t too wild – luxury automakers are already offering all-digital dashboards. Finally, the performance numbers are likely achievable at scale, as demonstrated by the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace. The Enspire would have to be expensive to achieve it, but good battery packs are expensive. So, there are reasons to believe the Enspire could be built to scale.
Unfortunately, Buick has tempered the Enspire’s warm reception, calling it a “styling exercise”. Obviously, that’s a little disappointing. However, we should remember that the Avenir, despite never being produced, has its DNA in the entire Buick lineup. It even inspired the new Avenir luxury trim level. So, even if Buick doesn’t release a production version of the Enspire, we should expect to see something like it. At the very least, we might see some more aggressive architecture and sharper lines.