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Three stars ready to light up Volvo

Concept to reality: Volvo's trio of concepts, including the striking Concept Estate from last year's Geneva motor show, look set to morph into production models.

Concept vehicles become future prestige models as Volvo looks to expand luxury line

4 Jun 2015

VOLVO'S three recent show-stopping concept cars look set to form the basis of a series of models that will herald the next phase of the Swedish car-maker's new-model onslaught.

The three sharp-edged concepts form an integral part of Volvo’s plan to ascend new levels of luxury and introduce its new customer-focused program into Australia from early 2016.

The next generation of Volvo’s flagship models, coded “90” and following the new XC90 full-size SUV, will be heavily based on three concepts shown over the past three years at global motor shows.

First up will be the S90 large sedan that will feature styling based on the Concept Coupe shown at the Frankfurt motor show in 2013.

The S90 sedan is expected in Australia in early 2016 and possibly priced from about $70,000 to target the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, Jaguar XF and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

It will be followed by a jacked-up crossover version and a wagon – both due in late 2016 – to be called V90 Cross Country and V90 respectively. It is expected that the three new models will share powertrains, platforms and cabin design with the XC90.

Volvo Car Australia managing director Kevin McCann described the upcoming new-model roll-out as “very exciting,” and added that the imminent XC90 will soon be the oldest model in the car-maker's local range.

“We will launch the V60 Cross Country in the second half of this year and though it’s a niche market product, we are very optimistic about its future,” he said.

“In 2016 there’s even more exciting products. It’s hard to believe that the XC90 that we’ll launch in August will be our oldest model within four years.”

Mr McCann said that Volvo in Australia has built a strong business case around the S90.

“There’s no launch date for us but I know the time lag between Europe and Australia is reducing, so it’s likely the car will be here in early 2016. That’s what I’m hoping.”

Mr McCann wouldn’t be specific about the roll-out of future models but confirmed they would be based around previous concept cars.

The trio are likely to be offered with plug-in hybrid power, following the lead to be set by the new XC90, and base all engines on Volvo’s in-house four-cylinder Drive-E petrol and diesel units.

The new engine uses a common crankcase for diesel and petrol to save on production costs. It is made with a turbocharger but can be combined with a supercharger for more power.

Volvo's engines can be mated to electric motors, either attached directly to the engine or as a secondary power unit independently driving the rear wheels.

The XC90 T8, for example, uses the entire inventory to become a plug-in hybrid with electric-only drive to the rear wheels.

Volvo will produce four petrol engines and four diesel engines, then start on a three-cylinder 1.5-litre engine for use in next-generation versions of its 60 line which includes the S60/V60 mid-size twins and the XC60 mid-size SUV. All use common components and simplified manufacturing based on a fixed bore and stroke and a 500cc per cylinder displacement.

The drivetrain technology dovetails with the launch of the new platform, first for the 90 range and then for the mid-size models, and the radical design switch.

Volvo Car Group senior vice president of design Thomas Ingenlath first unveiled the new-look “90” styling to coincide with Volvo’s debut of its new common platform, the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) in 2013.

It was also Mr Ingenlath’s first design since taking up the top design post at Volvo in July 2012, although the shape that has kicked off the new flagship range is believed to be related to the Volvo Concept Universe displayed at the 2011 Shanghai motor show.

SPA was first shown at the Frankfurt motor show in 2013 as the basis for the Concept Coupe, which carried design influences from Volvo's iconic 1960s P1800 model.

At that time, Volvo said the Concept Coupe would be the first of three concept designs that would lead to production variants from 2015, following on from the XC90.

The second concept, shown at the Detroit motor show in 2014, was the Concept XC Coupe. This is likely to become the V90 Cross Country, an evolution of the XC70 and sibling to this year’s forthcoming XC60 Cross Country.

At the time, Mr Ingenlath said the Concept XC Coupe was an example of the flexibility of Volvo’s SPA.

“It brings us a bit closer to the all-new XC90. But it goes without saying that a three-row, seven-seater will have a larger and fuller look than this four-seater,” he said.

“Volvo Concept XC Coupe is more of a cross-country version of a sleek sports wagon.”

Volvo then displayed the Concept Estate at last year’s Geneva motor show which is set to form the basis of the V90 large wagon. While it will differ in size and be sold as a more high-end offering, it replaces the V70 that is no longer available in Australia.

The XC90 and its follow-on models are the first to test Volvo’s ambitious Vision 2020 plan which envisages that nobody will be hurt, seriously injured or killed in a Volvo by 2020.

To meet the claims, it is expected that the XC90 and other new models will feature highly sophisticated safety equipment. This would include Volvo Pilot Assist that can keep the vehicle in the lane, maintain a preset speed and maintain a safe distance to the car ahead.

The V90 is expected to have a third seat row and possibly make this rear-facing for children. A rear-facing third row, used on Volvo wagons in the 1970s and 1980s, is regarded as safer than front-facing seats in the event of a front collision.

The S90 replaces the S80, the company flagship that enjoyed only modest sales in its 15 years on sale in Australia.

Introduced globally in 1998, it drew moderate interest from Australian buyers but the car was deleted here in late 2005 in the face of more modern competition.

It returned in 2007 in its second-generation version and is still in production in Europe. Australian buyers can still purchase an S80 by special order.

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