Detroit Auto Show: Volvo debuts the oh-so-Swedish XC60

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Volvo introduced the XC60 concept last night here at the Detroit Auto Show as a way to appeal to the thirtysomething loft-dwelling crowd (drawing on the momentum of the C30, no doubt), and the Swedes also want to make a design statement in the process. "If today you can see that it's a Volvo from 50 meters, I want to make that figure twice as big" says Volvo chief designer Steve Mattin, the XC60 accomplishes this via a strongly-stated grille and slanted headlamps that will make their way onto other future Volvos. Other notable exterior features include a rear tailgate that can be lifted independently of the rear hatch (allowing the loading of small cargo with minimum hassle) and a transparent roof panel.

More impressions and a press release can be found after the jump.

For our comprehensive listing of everything from Detroit, click here.

Inside the XC60, Volvo continues to draw from Apple's styling in the form of smooth and glossy surfaces, with the white color theme of the concept simply reinforcing the obvious relationship. Minor touches are abound to drive home the sleek and sanitary look and feel, including HVAC knobs that retract flush when the key is turned off, and window switches that appear to be based on non-mechanical capacitive sensors (much like one might find on a modern appliance or piece of exercise equipment). The vertical "ponytail slot" (Volvo's words, not ours) running through the seats is part of a new styling theme, offering ventilation, improved visibility (you just knew there had to be a safety angle), and is also said to form the basis for some sort of a cargo tie-down system.

We should see the XC60 sometime in 2009 as an introduction for the 2010 model year. For now, you'll have to satisfy your curiousity by checking out our gallery of live photos, and feel free to browse the rest of our shots from the 2007 Detroit Auto Show while you're at it.


The XC60 Concept

A glimpse of the next Volvo XC - and of the future of Volvo's design language

Irvine, CA (December 14, 2006) – Volvo Car Corporation today released the first official images of the XC60 Concept that will be unveiled at the upcoming North American International Auto Show. Scheduled to be shown to the world January 7, 2007, the XC60 Concept looks towards Volvo's future on two significant fronts: it offers the world a sneak preview of the next XC model to come from Volvo Cars and it reveals several design elements that will be part of future Volvos.

Volvo Cars Design Director Steve Mattin and his team have designed the XC60 Concept while keeping their eyes firmly focused on one clear goal. "In recent years we have successfully emphasized the Scandinavian characteristics that base prestige on timeless, functional elegance. Now we're elevating our design DNA to an entirely new level by literally pumping up our cars' visual volume," says Mattin. "With more expressive, emotive shapes, it will be a magnet for the viewer's eyes. If a Volvo is recognizable from 100 feet away today, I want to get to the point where you will instantly spot it from twice that distance in the future."

From the design viewpoint, the XC60 Concept is a daring, emotionally charged creation. The concept car, resplendent in a dashing Tin Bronze livery, combines two distinct vehicle designs. "Down below, the unmistakable and capable XC muscles pump up the vehicle, giving it a purposeful stance with high ground clearance on large wheels. Above the waistline, the dashing lines trace the profile and sporty charisma of an elegant, sexy coupe," noted Mattin.

Enlarged iron mark in the grille
The classic Volvo iron mark was reintroduced on Volvo's cars almost two years ago and makes its boldest design statement yet on the XC60 Concept. Embedded in the trapezoidal grille, the large iron mark provides a distinctive signal that the future has arrived. The new angled positioning lights on both sides of the grille are also part of the DNA of Volvo's next-generation design language. Along with the headlamps and the sweeping front fenders, they radiate an aggressive stance that also emphasizes the hood's classical V-shape.

The skid-plates front and rear are integrated to give an elegant yet distinct signal that this is primarily a crossover with pronounced on-road properties. The sculpted, emotive shapes that are such an important part of Steve Mattin's design direction in the future become particularly pronounced when the XC60 Concept is viewed from the side. With imposing 20-inch wheels, accentuated wheel housings and aluminum scuff-plates, the muscular XC feel is emphasized in the lower half of the car, while the windows' sleek profile and the dramatic roofline give the upper portion of the vehicle a sporty coupe-like appearance.

New tailgate design
"At the rear, the expressive, sculptured shapes provide additional hints of the direction our design DNA is set to take. The contours of the tall tail lamps highlight the muscular shoulders and the tailgate's trapezoidal shape is a further development of the glass tailgate in the Volvo C30," explains Mattin. The tailgate design features another ingenious innovation: the lower portion moves out and up over the upper section. This creates a sufficient opening for small items without requiring the entire tailgate to be opened. Of course, the tailgate can also be fully opened. The third alternative is to only open the upper section.

Another exciting solution is the dark panel in the lower part of the tailgate. Viewed from inside, it becomes transparent to improve the driver's ability to see the area behind the car. The roof is also transparent, with dark-tinted glass attached on top of a Y-shaped bearing structure. At the rear, the Volvo name on the tailgate features more pronounced lettering with wider spacing than before. This too is a new feature that will be echoed throughout the model range to boost the brand's image.

Elegant, high-tech interior
The XC60 Concept has an interior design that is as daring as the exterior. This applies particularly to the instrument panel and floating center stack and the slim, visually floating front and rear seats. The interior is dominated by the elegant combination of saddle leather and aluminum. The upper section of the passenger compartment is typically Scandinavian light, while the lower portion has a contrasting dark, espresso brown shade. Mattin's team also paid a lot of attention to the XC60 Concept's interior lighting appointments, creating a passenger compartment that seamlessly incorporates functional areas of light and a pleasant ambience – mood lighting that emphasizes the modern atmosphere inside the XC60 Concept.
Instrument pod with wings

The main instrument pod resembles a bumble-bee with a round analogue speedometer as the "body" in the middle flanked by two digital "wings" featuring display screens for other information. The instrument panel and the new steering wheel harmonize with the iconic floating center stack, which is angled towards the driver. It is even slimmer than what is found in today's production models, freeing up additional storage space behind the console.
"The white iPod-inspired surface is almost like a smooth wall of snow, surrounded by a metal frame that emphasizes the asymmetrical shape. Buttons and controls are entirely integrated into the surface and the "invisible" screen for information and navigation appears only when it is switched on, starting up with a spectacular pulsating sequence. The screen image is back projected, which makes the center stack one of the innovative highlights of the interior," said Mattin. The four rotary controls also come to life through the start-up sequence. All other buttons are touch sensitive.

The unique gear selector takes the form of a slide control, similar to the controls found on the mixer-table of light and sound technicians. The doors' control panels are also identical to the center stack.

Slim seats
Volvo Cars is world-renowned for its extremely comfortable and ergonomically designed seats. In the XC60 Concept, they are refined even further with slim, asymmetrical lines that provide added comfort, particularly when climbing in and out of the vehicle. The light-colored seats appear to float above the dark floor. All the seats have fully integrated seat belts. The head restraints and backrests, in both the front and rear seats, feature a pony-tail slot. This feature was introduced a couple of years ago in the Volvo YCC (Your Concept Car), and in the XC60 Concept it has been extended all the way down the back to provide enhanced ventilation and improved rearward vision. The slots also feature integrated ambient lighting.

"By turning his head, the driver can see all the way through his or her own seat, through the rear seat's backrest and through the transparent panel at the lower corner of the tailgate. This promotes added safety in a car type whose height may otherwise limit rearward vision," explained Mattin. The pony tail slots in the rear backrests feature the same type of attachment points as in the luggage compartment floor. This permits a whole variety of possibilities for using accessories or securing different types of loads. In addition, there is storage space for a specially designed XC60 Concept luggage set under the rear seats, conveniently accessible via the rear doors

A glimpse into Volvo's future
"The XC60 features a number of innovations that indicate how our cars will look in a few years time. The idea of a Volvo being boxy is behind us. Instead, we will make our Scandinavian design heritage more emotional and radiant by adding sculptured, exciting shapes and new, innovative features," noted Mattin.

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