There are plenty of big changes coming at Volvo, the Swedish maker planning a major shift in its powertrain strategy, opening a pair of factories in China – and adopting a new, and much more expressive design language.
We’ve been getting hints of where the styling side of that equation will head as Volvo has rolled out a trio of concept vehicles over the last three months covering three of its primary body styles.
It began with the Frankfurt Motor Show reveal of the Volvo Concept Coupe, continued at Detroit North American International Auto Show with the unveiling of the Concept XC Coupe – and will wrap up at next week’s Geneva Motor Show with the debut of the Volvo Concept Estate.
“Creativity is thriving in Swedish society. This includes design and technology as well as the fashion, music and arts. This inspired us to create a new, exciting way to express Sweden’s soul,” Thomas Ingenlath, the Volvo Car Group’s head of design, explains in somewhat cryptic manner.
As one might expect, the Concept Estate – one of many European euphemisms for wagon – picks up on the basic design language of the two earlier Volvo concepts. That’s particularly clear below the beltline. It shares the same, distinctive T-shape headlamps, and boasts what is apparently set to become the new signature Volvo grille.
There’s a more muscular look to the Volvo Concept Estate than we get from the maker’s current offerings. And for anyone who still associates the now Chinese-owned Swedish automaker with the boxy wagons of the past, the new show car has a nice curve to the roofline that flares out into a tail that, to borrow a cliché, looks like it is already in motion. The design is completed with distinctive new taillamps shared with the Concept XC Coupe.
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Inside, the Concept Estate adopts a more upscale, but decidedly Scandinavian appearance. But there’s more than just light woods and leathers at work here. Notice the more edgy orange seatbelts and carpet, along with machined copper accents. There’s also a crystal gear shifter from Sweden’s Kosta Boda.
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Among other things, there’s a new infotainment system with what Volvo promises is a distinctive new user interface. It’s touch-based, though Volvo promises that a few key knobs and buttons – for such vital functions as volume and window heaters – will remain.
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We have created a digital environment that is fully integrated in the car. The basic idea is to organize controls and information in a perfectly intuitive way, making the drive more enjoyable, efficient and safe. Everything is exactly where you expect it to be, and available at the touch of your finger,” says Ingenlath.
The three concept vehicles are expected to translate into production form over the next several years, starting with the launch of the next-generation Volvo XC90, which is set to debut this coming autumn.