Modern Scandinavian design relies heavily on simplicity and minimalism. The Volvo Concept Coupe was based on the same principles, and represents Volvo's Scalable Product Architecture (SPA).
The Volvo Concept Coupe is a modern interpretation of the P1800, the sleek Swedish sports car made in the 1960s. The Concept Coupe is an early step in establishing a specific design language for Volvo.
Designed by the new Thomas Ingenlath, the new Senior Vice President of Design, the Concept Coupe is a showcase of Volvo's design department. When developing new cars, Volvo designers can look to the Concept Coupe's body lines and stance for inspiration. The end goal of Scalable Product Architecture is to create a template, of sorts. The goal is not to have all their cars look the same, but to have their range of models carry some of the same design features; people should be able to look at two different cars and be able to spot the similarities in design.
Before the Concept Coupe shapes the look of future cars, Volvo is using it to show off the skills of their design studio. Volvo wanted to design a grand tourer, with a flowing side profile. Early in the process, the designers made a point to not recycle old designs, but instead use them as inspiration. The front grille, for example, takes the 85 year history of Volvo but presents it through an updated design. The next generation XC90 – which will be revealed next year – will be the first car to feature the new design cues. Much like the P1800 defined the smooth, flowing style of the 1960s, the Concept Coupe defines modern GT styling.
"Think about the calmness of a lion." said Thomas Ingenlath. "He doesn't have to prowl to radiate respect. Even lying down he shows very clearly what he is capable of."
Staying relevant with the times, Volvo is developing a high tech plug-in hybrid system for the Concept Coupe. The car is powered by Volvo's Drive-E 2 liter engine supplemented by an electric motor. The gasoline motor has a supercharger and a turbocharger, and when combined with the electric motor produce 400 horsepower and over 440 lb-ft of torque.
The Volvo Concept Coupe is a testbed for new technology. Inside, Volvo is experimenting with a single touchscreen user experience and a heads-up display for the driver. The Scalable Product Architecture, in the long term, is being used to test Volvo automated driving systems. Starting in 2014, Volvo will introduce automatic collision avoiding steering technology. By 2020, Volvo plans to sell fully autonomous road cars.
Gone are the days of the turbo brick Volvo. Fortunately, it seems that Volvo has once again designed a elegant Grand Tourer. Let's hope the designers translate the design language to the rest of their model lineup.