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Revealed in full: Volvo’s Concept Coupe

Past to present: The design of the Volvo Concept Coupe is partly inspired by the company’s P1800 coupe from the 1960s.

Frankfurt show car hints at Volvo’s future design direction


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29 Aug 2013

THE lovely, long, alluring bonnet is about to make a comeback at Volvo.

The Swedish car-maker today released the first official images of the car that will steer its future design direction, the Concept Coupe – the first in a series of three concepts the company plans to unveil.

Featuring a wide, low facia with supercar-like aerofoil designs leading into a long, raked bonnet, the big-haunched, plug-in hybrid coupe looks just like the car its name, teased with three indistinct images just days ago, alluded to.

As GoAuto predicted, the design harkens back to the 1960s-era P1800 sports coupe that showed Volvo was a brand for more than just hat-wearing clerks. The P1800 was such an iconic car in its day that it featured in the British television series, The Saint.

A wagon version of the P1800 served as inspiration for the modern-day C30 compact coupe.

Back to that concept car, though. Its side profile even features the same playful curl in the crease running along its side, although hidden somewhat by the recessed door handle.

The Chinese-owned car-maker says the sleek Concept Coupe points to its future design language, with the second-generation XC90 SUV due next year the first production vehicle to feature the new styling direction.

Volvo said the Concept Coupe was the first car to highlight the capabilities and design possibilities of its new scalable product architecture (SPA) that will underpin future models, but did not confirm where or when the other two concepts might appear.

The Concept Coupe is the first piece of work from Volvo’s senior vice-president of design, Thomas Ingenlath, who was charged with reshaping the Swedish car-maker’s looks in July last year.

Mr Ingenlath said it would be a mistake to label the design retrospective, as it pointed to Volvo’s future.

“The P1800 is an iconic Volvo, renowned for its beautiful forms and detailing,” he said. “However, using elements from the P1800 exterior and interior has nothing to do with being retro. We are using these subtle links to a glorious past to create a future where sheer beauty becomes a recognised part of Volvo’s identity.” The hint of the past is combined with a thoroughly modern design, incorporating elements such as a floating grille and T-shaped daytime running lights at the front, sitting above three prominent air dams in the lower section of the bumper.

A Mazda6-like long bonnet gives the appearance of a larger vehicle, while Volvo moved the glasshouse further to the rear to further emphasise the front end. A sharply styled rear features a sloping roofline and C-shaped tail-lights.

The inclusion of 21-inch wheels combined with the low roofline and bonnet give the overall design a grand tourer feel, but Mr Ingenlath said some of the inspiration for the Concept Coupe came from the animal kingdom.

“Think about the powerful calmness of a lion,” he said. “He doesn’t have to prowl to radiate respect. Even lying down he shows very clearly what he is capable of.” To highlight the premium nature of the concept, Volvo has included a crystal gear lever in the cabin, while using other handcrafted elements such as a leather instrument panel, aged wood inlays and woven carpets blended with metal details.

As well as previewing future design, the Concept Coupe previews future in-car technology, with a large portrait touch-screen in the centre console connected to a driver head-up display and an adaptive digital display set to appear in its “new car generation”.

Volvo is incorporating autonomous driving technology into its Scalable Product Architecture, and has already promised to have driverless cars on the road by 2020, a commitment echoed by Japanese car-maker Nissan yesterday.

The first stage of this technology includes autonomous steering to avoid collisions and will be seen on Volvo models as soon as next year.

Volvo’s latest concept is powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain, taken from the company’s new eco-friendly Drive-E engine family.

The powertrain consists of a 2.0-litre supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine matched with an electric motor on the rear axle, producing a combined power output of around 300kW and 600Nm of torque.

Volvo Car Group senior vice-president of marketing and sales, Alain Visser, highlighted plans to take Volvo further up-market with future models and said the Concept Coupe was the first example of that shift.

“Our transformation plan includes a commitment to create a more premium vision of Volvo Cars,” he said. “Releasing the emotional power of our human-centric design heritage is one of the key elements in this strategy,” “A more premium image is vital to gain momentum in our journey towards an annual sales volume of 800,000 cars. It also supports our price position versus our main competitors in the premium segments.”

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