Pictured: GM Executive Director of Interior Design David Lyon inside the 2011 Buick Regal
GM gave us an advance preview of their new Buick Regal before it hits dealerships this May. We weren’t able to drive this particular pre-production unit for fear of the wheels rolling off into Park Avenue traffic, but the sporty-looking sedan definitely has some curb appeal – taught surfaces, an athletic stance, upscale styling cues and a level of interior refinement that goes beyond hard plastic and faux chrome accents. Overall, the aura (no pun intended to Saturn may they R.I.P) is decidedly European, which makes sense considering the Regal started life in Germany as an Opel Insignia [GM’s German subsidiary]. The Insignia has been on sale in Europe for about a year, where it sold more than 140,000 units and nabbed European Car of the Year honors. GM tells us it is often cross-shopped with the Audi A4…not too shabby for a brand that was selling rolling barcaloungers not too long ago. The Regal is also sold in China where Buick has achieved unprecedented sales success and possesses an almost Rolls Royce-like status in terms of prestige.
GM is down to its core brands after laying Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and Oldsmobile to rest and selling off Saab to the Dutch. So it seems Buick is more important than ever for the GM brand portfolio. But as any auto marketer will tell you, there is no greater challenge than bringing a once great brand like Buick back to life. If Cadillac stands for luxury and Chevy for mass market quality and affordability, that leaves Buick square in the near-luxury segment currently occupied by the likes of Acura, Lexus and Infiniti. Fresh product and contemporary design seen in Buick Lacrosse and Enclave certainly aren’t hurting their chances based on the younger wave of buyers flocking to Buick dealerships. We caught up with 20-year GM vet David Lyon to get his take on things. Dave currently oversees interior design across all of GM’s brands and was formerly Executive Director of GM Asia Pacific Design where, among other projects, he oversaw the design of the utterly gorgeous Buick Riviera concept. More pictures and a Q&A after the jump.
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