With the C30 gone, the 500hp S60 Polestar unlikely to reach production in its concept form, and no sports car in the line-up, Volvo is in serious need of some sex appeal. Admittedly, the brand has always been utilitarian rather than exciting but forays into touring cars and sports cars during its history have paid off handsomely.
So with the intention of injecting some adrenalin into the current vehicle range, Volvo has released the first images of its new Volvo Concept Coupe. And what's more, it's claimed to be the first of a series of three concepts that will be based upon r the company's new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA).
The first offering by new Senior Vice President of Design, Thomas Ingenlath, aims to add emotion to the Volvo brand. It apparently points toward the next generation of Volvo models, which will begin with the XC90 due in 2014.
"The Volvo Concept Coupe is no futuristic dream car. It is designed to demonstrate the capability of our new architecture: the confident stance, the proportions and the most prominent design signatures. Even though the all-new XC90 is an entirely different type of car, you will instantly recognize the connection when it is revealed next year," said Ingenlath.
When viewed from the side you will see that the distance between the dashboard and front axle has been extended on the Volvo Concept Coupe. This has allowed them to move the greenhouse towards the rear slightly. And by lowering the roof and extending the hood, the car has a gran touring style emphasized by its 21" wheels.
Ever since BMW introduced its distinctive Corona lights, manufacturers have been struggling to find their own light signature, with some attempts more successful than others. Volvo's new identity will see T-shaped daytime running lights that they hope will catch on.
The face of the Coupe has new contours on the hood and the grille appears to 'float' between the headlights. "The face is new, but it carries more than 85 years of Volvo heritage with great pride. We are still working with the final interpretation of the grille and the iron mark, and this will be revealed together with the XC90 next year," said Ingenlath.
While the company is trying to introduce new design aspects, you can't escape the similarities to the Volvo P1800 from the 1960s. The sports coupe was an icon in its day and came to symbolize a fresh approach that Volvo would later abandon as sales slumped. "Using elements from the P1800 exterior and interior has nothing to do with being retro," said Ingenlath. "We are using these subtle links to a glorious past to create a future where sheer beauty becomes a recognized part of Volvo's identity."
The blue-grey exterior is echoed inside by handcrafted elements such as the leather instrument panel, inlays of naturally aged wood, and the dark blue woven carpets. These are blended with machined metal details. "To me, handcrafted crystal is one of the finest examples of high-quality Scandinavian design and I love the idea of bringing it into the car. The prominent position of the gear-leaver is the perfect place for this sparkling sensation," said Robin Page, Design Director Interior at Volvo Car Group.
The concept also includes a large portrait touchscreen in the center console that interacts with an adaptive digital display and heads-up display.
The Scalable Product Architecture is also being prepared for autonomous driving. The first autonomous steering to avoid accidents and make driving more comfortable will be introduced in 2014. In fact, Volvo aim is to have cars with fully autonomous technology out on the roads before 2020, legislation permitting.
The Concept Coupe uses a gasoline plug-in hybrid driveline to create the most powerful versions in the new four-cylinder Drive-E engine family. It's aimed to produce the power of a V8 but without the fuel consumption. So the concept features a two-liter Drive-E engine with both a supercharger and turbo. It's teamed with an electric motor on the rear axle, giving a total output of around 400hp and over 440 lb-ft of torque.