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Buick revs up a new Riviera

The Riviera has returned…in China.

Buick chose its largest market to unveil a concept car that previews the automaker’s future look and signals the possible resurrection of its iconic personal luxury car model, last sold in 1999.

The two-door coupe features what GM design chief Ed Welburn describes as an “athletic shape” with “elegant ambiance,” adding that the modernized waterfall grille and blue, wing shaped daytime running lights beams will be signature styling keys of the next generation of Buicks. The massive gull-wing doors? Not so much.

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The car is predictably a hybrid. A “wireless plug-in” in this case, meaning that it has wireless charging capabilities, but is also compatible with a traditional charging station. Its efficiency is further enhanced by a computer controlled aerodynamics package that includes active grille shutters, diffusers and wheels that can open and close to balance cooling and wind resistance.

Ten cameras and 18 sensors built in to the exterior of the Riviera enable its many automated safety systems and help provide the driver with a visual rendering of the car’s surroundings via a hologram projected onto the windshield and “Transparent” A pillars that digitally display what’s on the other side of the rigid structures to further improve outward visibility.

But how soon could we see something like the concept in showrooms? Buick hasn’t yet said, but last year the company did go to the trouble of renewing its trademark on the Riviera name in the U.S., so while the model has been gone for a few years, it clearly hasn’t been forgotten.