(from GM Press Release)
Restrained extravagance. Two seemingly incompatible words that
nonetheless convey the spirit of the Buick Velite – a four-seat
convertible that envelops its passengers in a rich, elegant environment
while forging new ground in the exclusive territory of expressive,
upscale rear-drive mid-size automobiles.
The Velite is the first American demonstration of GM’s all-new Zeta
global vehicle architecture, featuring a premium rear-wheel-drive
chassis. Buick will unveil the Velite concept at the New York Auto Show.
Named for an elite class of quick-moving soldiers in Napoleon’s army,
the Velite was designed at GM’s Advanced Studio in Warren, Mich. and
assembled at renowned coachbuilder Stile Bertone’s studio in Italy. Its
sister car, the Opel Insignia, debuted the Zeta architecture at the
Frankfurt International Auto Show last year.
“Velite is a new expression of Buick’s longstanding heritage in
understated yet sophisticated design,” said Anne Asensio, executive
director – GM Advanced Design. “While certainly an expression of premium
American style, the Velite’s impressive stance and overall presence
emphasize a sumptuous driving experience that further pushes Buick on to
the center of the world stage of luxurious touring cars.”
Indeed, Buick’s global presence is widening, particularly in Asia.
Recently introduced products in China, for example, have been warmly
received with demand exceeding supply. The upscale aura of these
vehicles is enhanced with the rear-drive Velite – its athletic
proportions and aggressive stance emphasizing a bold, contemporary
design, while readily identifiable heritage cues are worn with an
international flair and understated elegance.
Designers pored over Buick’s extremely rich design history while also
studying trends in global cultures and contemporary design. Modern
furniture and even the atmosphere of trend-setting lounges influenced
the color, mood and shape of the Velite’s exterior and interior.
Heritage cues can be found in the Velite’s long dash-to-axle
proportions, which convey power and a sporting elegance – a theme
reinforced by 20-inch front wheels, 21-inch rear wheels and short
overhangs. Its long, sculpted clamshell hood introduces a bold new look
for Buick’s signature waterfall grille design. It is finished in a
jewel-like luster and creates a three-dimension visual effect that
blends seamlessly with the body when viewed from different angles.
The hood integrates portholes – three per side – in a romantic, yet
contemporary nod to Buick’s heritage. The hood tilts forward when
opened, creating a dramatic look that evokes a bygone era of touring
cars. A complementing clamshell deck lid opens in the opposite direction
to swallow the Velite’s folding soft top. When retracted, the top is
completely covered by the rear deck for an integrated, contoured look
reminiscent of Buick’s dramatic boattail designs of the 1930s.
Decidedly upscale yet subtle appointments underscore the Velite’s aura
of refined sophistication, including its Dark Tarnished Bronze Metallic
exterior color. The rich-looking hue complements the vehicle’s relaxed,
sophisticated mood, and is a reflection of the color’s emergence in
modern design around the globe.
The color contrasts with crystalline headlamp lenses, which combine with
X-Beam technology to create a distinct, superior lighting system. Using
the same halogen light source, X-Beam enables the use of a smaller lens
while creating 44 percent greater luminous intensity than traditional
reflector headlamps. Cooling vents for the lights are slotted next to
the lenses, creating a unique and purposeful styling element. X-beam
technology also is used in the taillamps, which blend into rearward
sheetmetal designed with a nod to the 1938 Y-Job – Buick’s first concept
vehicle and first convertible.
“The Velite has a presence that conveys confident power,” said Sang Yup
Lee, exterior designer. “It’s a fresh, contemporary design that not only
hints at Buick’s design direction, but speaks the language of modern
design trends around the globe – a statement of strength through
elegance, not extravagance.”
Contemporary design also is reflected in
the Velite’s passenger compartment, which uses sumptuous materials and
the warm glow of indirect lighting to harmonize with the vehicle’s
exterior design voice. It’s a tangible expression of a jazz lounge
atmosphere, including an inviting rear seat that wraps around the
interior like a comfortable lounge loveseat. Rear HVAC controls allow
rear-seat passengers to adjust the climate to suit their moods.
Subdued lighting radiates a warm glow throughout the cabin, and is
complemented by leather of three shades: Bronze Pearl, Iceberg Blue, and
Woven Tan. The look of Gold Leaf Lacquer, in place of wood, is a
statement of richness in many Asian cultures; it accents the interior,
including the door handles and shift knob. All seating is
leather-covered and the materials used throughout the interior were
selected for their reassuring tactile feel.
“Everything from the colors to the shape and feel of the upholstery was
designed to provide a rich, relaxing and romantic environment,” said
Bryan Priebe, interior designer. “The Velite is a respite from the
outside world and invites human interaction.”
The Velite’s warm interior lighting glows from the backs of instrument
panel controls and gauges. The subdued look includes a panel over the XM
Satellite Radio and OnStar controls, allowing a smooth, uninterrupted
appearance of the dashboard and center console.
An “E-lock” security system allows the Velite’s driver to unlock or lock
the vehicle without fumbling for a key fob. The system, which uses a
proximity signal for vehicle function commands, allows starting and
driving without the need for a traditional ignition key.
Power to move the Velite comes from Buick’s experimental
twin-turbocharged, intercooled global V-6 engine. Four hundred
horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque are derived from its DOHC design
and 3.6-liter displacement. The engine features fuel-saving variable
valve timing technology, which is available on some of GM’s four-,
five-, six- and eight-cylinder engines. Through the use of variable
engine valve timing, valve lift and duration is continuously varied to
improve fuel economy, horsepower and torque, while reducing emissions.
The V-6 is backed by a Hydra-Matic 6L80-E six-speed, rear-wheel-drive
automatic transmission equipped with manual tap-shift gear selection. A
pair of large, oval exhaust outlets provides an aural reminder that
performance is very much a part of the vehicle’s character.
“The strength of the powertrain is the necessary complement to the
Velite’s powerful design statement,” said Tom Peters, Buick Velite’s
chief designer. “It’s premium performance to go with a contemporary,
Although a concept, the Velite affirms GM’s vision for Buick as a global
manufacturer of premium, elegant vehicles. It shows the exciting
possibilities of the all-new Zeta vehicle architecture and an expressive
new direction for Buick.
“There’s an edge to the vehicle, more than is reflected in its sculpted
bodywork,” said Peters. “It’s a forward-looking vehicle that not only
stands for Buick in America, but how American style, performance and
prestige resonates in a contemporary, global form.”