To Drive On, the biggest improvement in the new General Motors is quality of interiors. The outside styling is acceptable, but the new dashboard designs, seat and interior stitching and other touches inside GM vehicles really stand apart. That’s why we’re intrigued by a new Buick LaCrosse GL concept.
The LaCrosse was already a luxe vehicle, but this new GL concept making its debut next week at the Los Angeles Auto Show is aimed at taking it a step above.
Rich Corinthian leather wouldn’t stand a chance here. Buick’s color and trim designers worked from a palette of cabernet red, dark cocoa brown and caramel. They looked to club chairs as a model when it came to the upholstery of the car seats. Smooth glove-style suede is used for the headliner.
“The design cues that already distinguish the production LaCrosse – such as the premium leather-upholstered seats, ice-blue ambient lighting and soft touch surfaces – are amplified in the GL and serve as inspiration for future Buick models,” said David Lyon, executive director of design.
LaCrosse GL’s cabernet red exterior paint is complemented by brushed and tinted chrome accents on the grille, door handles and deck lid, as well as around the windows, taillights and headlights. Machine-face, satin-finish, 20-inch rims fill the wheel wells for a firmly planted appearance.
“The brushed and tinted chrome trim gives the GL a more subdued appearance than if we had used bright chrome. The overall effect is more in keeping with Buick’s quietly confident aesthetic,” said Magdalena Kokoszynska, creative designer on LaCrosse GL.
Although Buick may be using the term concept fairly loosely here, the LaCrosse GL Concept – which is slated to make its full unveiling next week at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show – gives a glimpse into the brains of Buick’s designers and the future palette of the tri-shield brand.
Along with its raft of new models, Buick is looking to become a “welcoming, approachable luxury brand,” and plans to focus in the near future on designs, textures, and colors to further heighten its owners’ experiences with its cars. To do so, the brand’s designers are looking to richer, deeper exterior and interior colors; softer, more buttery leather; and helpings of alcantara and brushed chrome accents.
The GL Concept Buick showed us looked slick in a deep cabernet red metallic paint with the more muted brushed chrome trim, and the 20-inch wheels from the Regal GS also in brushed chrome. The interior was dressed in two-tone cocoa brown and chocochino (caramel) soft leather, accented by a light caramel-colored alcantara headliner and ice-blue contrast stitching. Wood and chrome interior trim has been darkened to help imbued a warmer cabin feel.
Most notable about the GL Concept’s interior, however, was the smell. In a similar vein to the distinct aroma that BMW’s leather interiors have, the LaCrosse GL smelled of warm, worn leather with a hint of tea. We asked Magdalena Kokoszynska, the creative designer for the LaCrosse GL Concept, if the unique smell was part of the new “emotive” brand message Buick was moving toward. We found the aroma distinct and appealing, and potentially a great olfactory signature. Sadly, “the scent was not part of the plan, but a result of the materials we used. We have people working on the new-car smell, but that is not currently part of the plan.”
Buick also showed us some styling bucks for other potential interiors, using the same soft leather and deep color palette. The brand wants to move away from the typical grey, beige, and black to a “rich, warm, and contemporary color palette.” Every aspect of the GL concept that we touched felt expensive and it was clear that Buick’s designers had put thought into every texture and color.
The LaCrosse GL Concept will make its official debut next week on the floor of the Los Angeles Auto Show, and, while that exact interior has not been approved for production yet, expect to see something like it soon.