Volvo's renaissance started with 1999's S80 flagship sedan, and the turnaround appears to have come full circle with its successor, seen here for the first time without camouflage. In what looks to be yet another premature press photo distribution leak, the good folks who frequent SwedeSpeed have provided us with an advance glimpse into Gothenburg's gurus latest... well ahead of the car's Geneva coming-out party.
The exterior is clearly evolutionary and couldn't be anything other than a Volvo, but this is hardly unfortunate. Up top, more aggressively raked glass, along with a sharkfin antenna presents a sportier roofline, and the S80's corners have been substantially radiused, with headlights and taillamps appearing to 'wrap around' the car's perimeter, neatly integrating the front end turn signal lens in the process. Side cladding has also been minimized for a cleaner profile, and subtle cues like the second set of inboard character lines on the hood and less timid exhaustwork afford the S80 a more energetic and dynamic look.
[Further exposé including 7 additional photos inside-and-out after the jump]
As is plainly visible in the interior shot below, the S40's lyrical 'floating' center console has been pressed into service, and is set to become a styling trademark for all future Volvos. The absence of a key slot of any kind appears to indicate that Volvo's gone ahead and made good on keyless drive, which in all likelihood will manifest itself as a variant of Volvo's Personal Communicator (VPC) a small handheld computer that monitors and adjusts certain vehicle settings (everything from unlocking doors to monitoring theft threats), an idea seen first on Volvo's Safety Concept Car of 2001.
Preliminary intelligence indicates that the S80 will hold down Volvo's top rung with a three-engine range, a standard 3.2L six-cylinder with around 240 hp, an optional (and much needed) eight-cylinder displacing about 4.4L and sporting circa 315 hp, and an available five-cylinder diesel with around 180 hp-- the latter of which doesn't appear to be slated for U.S. consumption.
As ever, expect the all manner of safety kit, from Volvo's Four-C active chassis system to an impact warning system, radar cruise-control with heads-up display, DSTC (Dynamic Stability Traction Control), airbags fitted to seemingly every flat surface, and bi-xenon headlamps with an adjustable beam to peak 'round corners. All-wheel drive with Volvo's Instant Traction system will be optional on V8 models.
Finally armed with the cylinder count to do battle with larger-engined competitors like the BMW 5-Series, Lexus GS300, the big Swede appears at once fresh and true-to-form. Now, bring on that S80R, already.
[Thanks for the tip, Barry]