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Avenir isn’t just French for ‘future,’ it’s also a hint at the next Buick flagship

Honestly, no one in the industry was expecting to see anything more from Buick at the Detroit Auto Show, after the unveil of the Cascada compact convertible. To our surprise – and delight – it had one more treat in store for us: the Avenir concept.

Avenir, Buick is quick to point out, is French for ‘future.’ This is no coincidence, as the Avenir likely shows where a full-size Buick flagship could head. With elements inspired by Buicks of old, the car takes on a new direction for the American brand.

The first thing onlookers might notice is its grille is a complete departure from other modern Buick noses, which, in my humble opinion, is a very good thing indeed. Designers weren’t too crazy, though, they still kept the signature Buick sweep-spear body sideline.

While this is undoubtedly one of the best looking Buicks of the last few decades, I can’t help but feel like it’s just trying to be an Audi. Let’s look at the spec sheet of which Buick is ever so proud.

The Avenir boasts seating for four, LED exterior lighting, 21-inch wheels, a direct-injected V6 engine with cylinder deactivation and stop/start technology, a nine-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission, driver-selectable suspension damping, twin-clutch all-wheel-drive, next-generation Buick IntelliLink infotainment with large, 12-inch-diagonal color touch screen, driver-recognition features that automatically sync infotainment preferences, ionic cabin air filtration, mobile device wireless charging, and OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot.

Related: Buick imports a taste of Europe with its topless 2016 Cascada

Save the ionic filter and the 12-inch screen, that sheet reads like a spec sheet of a two-year-old Audi A7. Is it exceptional for Buick? You bet. For any other brand in the luxury space? Not so much.

Despite my cynicism, I am happy to see Buick take a step into the 21st century. And I am sure they’ll sell a ton of these things in Florida and China.