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Frankfurt show: Volvo reveals the real You

Parallel universe: The Volvo Concept You bears a striking resemblance to the Concept Universe it displayed at Auto Shanghai in April.

Volvo unveils S80 replacement with the Concept You fastback

14 Sep 2011

VOLVO has given Frankfurt show visitors a hint that the next-generation S80 will feature a fastback bodystyle after it revealed the follow-up to its Concept Universe shown at Auto Shanghai earlier this year.

Billed as the brand’s next-generation large luxury sedan, the Concept You picks up where the more orthodox, three-box Universe sedan left off, simply adding an in-vogue fastback roof and refining some of the earlier concept’s rougher edges.

The Scandinavian brand said it interviewed a number of target Chinese customers after it premiered the Universe, while also keeping an eye on global feedback across various forms of social media.

As a result, Volvo toned down the ungainly nose design by adding a sleeker and more traditional headlight and grille combination, which goes some way towards transforming the front of the car from slabby into sporty.

However, the controversial ‘clamshell’ bonnet from the Universe remains.

The overall design – which is likely to be indicative of other future Volvo models – looks to have been inspired by a host of high-end product, further emphasising the premium ambitions the brand has for this car.

There is a hint of Rolls-Royce Phantom in the pillar-less ‘suicide’ doors and chrome handles, the stance and proportion is somewhat reminiscent of the Jaguar XJ limousine and the roofline is similar to the Audi A7 Sportback.

18 center imageVolvo Car’s vice president of design Peter Horbury said this was no accident, and that “the fastback profile mirrors a strong trend among European buyers”.

“With growing signs that Chinese taste buds are moving rapidly in the same direction, our main aim is to explore how daring our next large sedan should be in order to be a global success,” he said.

While Audi sells the A6 as a traditional three-box sedan counterpart to the A7 Sportback, overseas reports indicate that Volvo will not follow this path for the S80, but will instead give only one of the two body-styles the green light for production.

Mr Horbury was quoted by British publication Autocar as saying that the company will choose one of the two bodystyles to put into production, which is scheduled to begin around 2015.

While Volvo has not released any technical information specific to the Concept You, the company announced last week that it would feature the first step in its ambitious engine downsizing strategy.

As we reported last week, the brand will power all future internal combustion variants exclusively with a range of newly-developed, lightweight four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines with fewer moving parts and greater fuel efficiency.

There is also scope for higher performance levels to be added in a green-friendly fashion, either via hybridisation or the brand’s flywheel-based kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), which redistributes braking energy to the driveline.

The company also announced that a new eight-speed automatic gearbox will feature alongside these engines in the company’s next-generation model range.

The eventual production version of the Concept You is likely to also be at the forefront of Volvo’s new Scalable platform technology, which will theoretically allow nearly all of its models to be built on the same production line.

The company said that, when this common vehicle architecture debuts by mid-decade, around 90 per cent of the components will be all-new.

Thanks to extensive use of aluminium, the company claims the scalable set-up will help shave 100-150kg from future models, while also allowing for electrification at all levels without intruding on passenger or load space.

Volvo also claims that the more efficient packaging of models based on the scalable architecture will allow for more “attractive design proportions”.

Concept You’s sparse and futuristic four-seat interior features lashings of walnut, leather, suede and plush-pile carpeting, while the infotainment system is controlled via two large touchpads – one situated in place of the traditional instrument fascia and the other between the rear seats.

The sound system also features a high-end, ultra-lightweight sound system developed by Alpine, including a powerful prototype ‘Freshair’ subwoofer that uses the outside air to contain the sound within the car so it cannot be heard outside.

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