GM’s Buick brand likes to use Shanghai to preview its upcoming cars. Some may just brush these concepts off as mere eye candy, but these guys are serious. Case in point is the Buick Business Concept from Shanghai 2009 that was launched in production form as the new Buick GL8 last December, with stepped windowline intact.

This time it’s a crossover. The Envision Concept, like the Business Concept, was developed jointly by Shanghai GM and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), which lies just outside the city. It merges Buick’s global design language with Chinese aesthetics for the SUV segment. “It introduces the development direction for Buick’s future SUV products for the market,” said Shi Hong, Director of Buick Marketing at Shanghai GM.

The Envision features the traditional waterfall grille that houses Buick’s tri-colored shield. Headlamps and fog lights are inspired by traditional Chinese patterns – porcelain-like daytime LED lamps house five “Chinese pillar-like” LED bulbs. Sharp lines start from above the headlamps, submerge into the body, and reappear at the rear, running through the taillamps and showcasing the traditional Buick double sweep spear.

The Envision has scissor-style doors with sensors for a grand sense of occasion. This “coupe-like body” and multifunctional space offer a hint of Buick SUVs to come for the Chinese market, according to GM.

The insides of the doors are inspired by the “yin and yang” concept. Together with the two-toned galaxy-blue and sand-beach white Italian leather and maple and metallic materials with a velvety texture, it offers a “visual effect of peace and elegance”. A shared armrest runs from the front to the back, with storage function and hidden air vents. The flat floor is supposed to emulate the deck of a yacht.

The AWD Envision is powered by GM’s PHEV plug-in hybrid system. The 2.0-litre SIDI intelligent direct injection turbocharged engine is complemented by a pair of electric motor generators in the Envision’s eight-speed auto transmission. A lithium battery and a solar energy roof with optical equipment serve as an alternative energy source independent from the engine.

More pics after the jump.

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