Making its first public appearance at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the Volvo Concept Coupe is a multifaceted exercise that looks forward by looking back. Volvo's latest dream machine features exterior design cues inspired by the automaker's iconic P1800 model from the late 1960s. But beyond its own striking contours and proportions, this elegantly tailored and far more technically advanced one-off previews styling as well as engineering elements that will be incorporated into the next-generation Volvo XC90 SUV due for launch sometime next year as a 2015 model.
"The Volvo Concept Coupé is no futuristic dream car," notes Thomas Ingenlath, the firm's new Senior Vice President of Design. "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 recognize the connection instantly when it is revealed next year."
Ingenlath is equally quick to point out that the overall design ramifications of this striking plug-in hybrid reach far beyond the XC90. Moving from previous cross-brand platforms to Volvo's exclusive Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) opens the door to a new era of creative freedom that will add emotion and a more premium character while retaining a distinctly confident yet understated Scandinavian character.
The first Volvo to be penned under Ingenlath's direction, the Concept Coupe is finished in blue-grey metallic and embodies a number of specific elements to bolster its street presence -- visual cues that also will be seen in the exterior design of future models. Among those key features are a floating grille with its distinctive iron mark badge, T-shaped daytime running lights, a long sculpted hood, prominent full-length beltline, sharper shoulder contours and a more dramatic taillamp treatment all set of with custom 5-spoke/21-inch alloy wheels.
The cabin of the Volvo Concept Coupe also deftly bridges the gap between yesterday and tomorrow. Reprising the blue-grey color theme, it builds off of the latest Volvo V40 wagon design brief but adds numerous elegant touches along with new user-centric technology to create a uniquely inviting environment. Highlights include a leather-covered dash, naturally-aged wood inlays, machined metal trim, a handcrafted crystal shift-lever knob and dark-blue premium carpeting. One particularly dramatic departure from its current production thinking is seen in the automaker's first use of a large, vertically-oriented touch screen in the upper center console. It handles infotainment/connectivity functions in a manner that limits driver distraction and also interacts with the Concept Coupe's adaptive digital instrumentation and head-up display.
The first of a what Volvo says will be three design exercises intended to demonstrate the potential of the new SPA platform prior to the XC90 intro, the Concept Coupe is fitted with a potent plug-in hybrid powertrain that pairs a supercharged 2.0-liter/4-cylinder gasoline engine from Volvo's new Drive-E engine family up front with an electric motor at the rear axle. Collectively, this combo turns out about 400 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, which means this evolutionary/revolutionary Volvo should have the performance chops to match its appearance.
No word yet as to the reveal date of the next pre-XC90 show car - or whether the Volvo might consider using the Concept Coupe as the basis of an actual P1800 successor.
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