Volvo’s new Concept Coupe showcases various new design elements and seeks to redefine our idea of not only what a Volvo coupe should be, but what the entire brand could be.
These design elements will likely find their ways into other production Volvos shortly, as evidenced by a sneak peek at the upcoming (finally!) new XC90.
Volvo enthusiasts will recall the P1800–the model Irv Gordon has driven literally millions of miles in–but they will also remember the oft overlooked original C70 coupe as well as the perpetually overlooked current-generation C70 hardtop convertible. Some might even point to the C30 as a modern-day Volvo coupe, but that hatch is actually a new 480 which is much more of a spiritual successor to the 1800 ES… and perhaps we’ve just identified a rather large problem.
How can two such disparate cars be inspired by the same predecessor? How can both cars be in the same line-up? A limited-production shooting brake would complement the line quite nicely if offered alongside the Coupe and Convertible versions. And the market seems more ready for something in that form factor now than it’s ever been. But still, perhaps not quite yet.
Alternatively, an updated C30 as an entry-level seems like it simply would not make any business sense, as the current C30’s quirky looks narrow its target market almost as much as its price point does. Then again, this concept coupe doesn’t wear a 70 badge–maybe it will become a C90, which would position it as a halo car at the top of the range whose looks could inform its (hopefully forthcoming) sedan counterpart, the replacement for the aging S80. This coupe would need to be a swb version of the S60 or the S80.
Let us for a moment, forget that the Concept Coupe’s front-end seems to resemble Bertone’s milquetoast Jaguar B99 quite a bit…
Instead, let’s focus on surfacing–surfacing that is decidedly quite modern. The subtly compound curvature is tightly controlled by sharp delineation of surface transitions and keeps the vehicle looking sleek and lithe while not succumbing to an overly retro-modern or pudgy organic feeling. The haunch is beautifully executed and does quite a bit to frame the car as sporting yet elegant as it meets the crisply accentuated bodyside. This crease is evokes the P1800’s tailfin, but does so in such a way that it feels anything but old-fashioned.
That same surface transition leads forward toward the doorhandle which is incorporated into the sort of hop-up for the rear fender flare. It’s a thoughtful touch that looks technically well done, but one might prefer to see that surface treatment without the ornamentation of an integrated door pull.
Moving forward, that accent line leaves the handle quite nicely and runs along the door and up the fender where it begins to parallel the hood shutline before being feathered into the surface. While the shutline jogging through the wheel well flat (with curious inverse fender lip) looks all-too-familiar, it still looks quite good and slices right through the lamps up front not terminating until it hits the rounded, polished grill bezel.
The signature lighting elements trace this cut line, successfully giving the front end a distinctive graphic element–but this grill looks to be quite out of place here. It may just be the slightly scallopped appearance, or the multitude of the very-near perfectly vertical lines… but it seems it doesn’t jibe. Oddly, something closer in appearance to the P1800’s grill might have worked better here, including predominantly horizontal bars, or an entirely blacked out opening with chromed surround. Driving lamps floating inside the opening on the same vector as the signature lamps could have also filled the space nicely.
What may be overlooked by many is the interior. This is not an interior awash with urealistic futuristic touches and overwhelmed with technology or safety–this is a place to sit while in command of a vehicle.
The surfaces are agreeable and are controlled by a linearity that uses touches of angular tension to highlight touchpoints of high-quality materials. The centrally mounted (speaker, yes?) punctuates the dash, while the opening for the binnacle looks modern, clean, elegant, and fast. The center stack extends from the dash, layered with a mix of matte- and gloss-finished materials that begs occupants to touch it. Obviously, this is not a production car, but it does encourage with its attention to tactile pleasures; the well-executed layering, material finishes, the vertically-oriented vents with those directional fins and flow-control knobs… There is also a creative use of negative space surrounding the main touchscreen and separating the center stack from the tunnel. This is at the same time reminiscent of old-school dash boards and modern in its approach to the contemporary ‘cockpit’ style layout.
Overall, it’s quite uncluttered–the central controller seems like a crystalline knurled aluminum knob–different from, but similar to the crystal/aluminum gear selector. The center-tunnel-mounted safety belts are a welcome touch–and the buckles advertise Volvo’s commitment to safety (well played, gentlemen).
Reaffirming the coupe’s modernity are the shapely, upholstered-shell-backed sport seats with floating head restraints. Also hitting home is the overall use of color: confident, but not daring, the scheme lets the forms and materials speak for themselves. This seems slightly Swedish in concept, but perhaps not in execution. There is a decidedly German feel to the steering wheel; one might picture four rings on that horn pad and see it right at home, but another might see a VW badge instead and feel the interior misses the mark.
Is this what a Volvo could be? Yes.
Is it what a Volvo should be? I’m not sure.
Take a look at this HUGE gallery of officially released Volvo images below and come to your own conclusion: