Volvo's big deal for the 2009 Detroit Auto Show is the S60 Concept, which debuts a new design direction for the Scandinavian brand once known for elevating the art of boxes on wheels. Volvo has continually evolved its signature design language, adding curves and bulges to make its vehicles look more organic than cubic. The culmination of that movement is the S60 Concept, which previews the next-gen S60 production sedan.
The concept features a coupe-like roofline and elegant front end brandishing the largest version of Volvo's iron mask badge that we've ever seen. A new character line running along the sides of the concept nicely updates the broad shoulder that's common on the brand's current cars and SUVs. There are lots of other cool exterior details, which you can read about in the press release after the jump, but the interior is the concept's crown jewel. The floating center stack, inspired by current Volvo production interiors, was made by hand out of Orrefors crystal.
The S60 concept is also full of safety tech, including a Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and pedestrian detection system that will debut in the production S60. It works to avoid collisions with pedestrians under 20 km/h altogether and minimize injury for ones occurring at faster speeds. Powered by a 1.8L four-cylinder turbodiesel with direct injection, the S60 Concept is also frugal with fuel, burning through just 5.0 liters of petrol every 100 km (about 47 mpg U.S.)
An early Christmas present from Volvo Cars - a glimpse of the next-generation Volvo S60
A few days before Christmas, Volvo Cars treats the automotive world to an early unwrapping of a car that will shine bright in the streets for years to come.
The Volvo S60 Concept gives the car world a glimpse of what the all-new Volvo S60 is going to look like when it arrives in 2010.
"The all-new S60 will be one of the strongest players in a segment where the competition is razor-sharp," says Volvo Cars President and CEO Stephen Odell.
The coupe-inspired lines that gave the original S60 its characteristic stance are even more pronounced in the next generation.
"The sporty design gives visual promise of an enthusiastic drive and I can assure you here and now that the all-new S60 will live up to that promise. The driving properties are better than in any previous Volvo. The car's technology will also help you to be a better and safer driver," says Stephen Odell.
The concept car reveals that the Volvo Cars design team is stepping up to the next level in the development of the products' DNA.
"The concept car's exterior gives a clear indication of what customers can expect of the all-new S60. On the inside we've been even more daring - there the focus has been on creating a vision of the future in the slightly longer perspective," says Volvo Cars Design Director Steve Mattin.
Scandinavian inspiration and drama
The front of the S60 Concept naturally sports the enlarged iron mark in the trapezoidal grille. The grille itself has a somewhat new appearance with structured horizontal vanes adding refinement to its form.
Two DNA lamps that flank the grill emphasise the vertical stance of the front and promote the bonnet's V-shape. The angled headlamps flow up into the strongly sculptural bonnet. Combined with the lower air intake's reverse trapezoidal shape, this gives the concept car a very expressive "face".
"Dynamic and with considerable character, but without appearing aggressive. It is packed with inspiration from Scandinavian design and from the Swedish coastline's cliffs and seas. A thrilling blend of drama and sensuality," says Steve Mattin.
Viking longboats in the headlamps
The concept car's headlamps unite classic Scandinavian influences with modern high-tech.
In each of the headlamps, the lights create a sculpture creating the image of two miniature Viking longboats sailing side by side, one for main beam and one for dipped beam. When driving in the dark, the light is reflected from the concealed, upward-facing High Performance LED bulbs, projected ahead by the ships' filled sails.
Double wave and sensational doors
Viewed from the side, the concept car's slim coupe roofline and window graphics are accompanied by an entirely new lateral shoulder line, forming a gentle double wave. Stretching from the headlamps all the way to the tail, it adds emotional excitement and plays with the surface and its highlights.
Both the seven-spoke 20-inch wheels and the tread of the low-profile tyres have been specially designed. The bronze-painted brake callipers match the "Warm Liquid Copper" livery.
The unique rear parallelogram doors offer a spectacular show when they are opened and shut. Door opening is initiated by pressing on a button and the movement starts off in the traditional way. In the next phase, the forward section also swings out away from the car's body and the door glides parallel with the side of the car until it reaches its end position by the rear wheel.
Inspiration from the racing track
"In forthcoming models, you will see more and more of our "racetrack" design cues. The car's lines do not end abruptly but instead forge a continuous flow pattern inspired by the fast sweeps of the racing track. In the concept car, this is particularly visible at the rear," says Steve Mattin.
The tail lamps, which follow the curve of the rear shoulders, are as advanced as the headlamps. When switched off, the lamp panels show no trace of the traditional red or yellow. But when activated, the position marker lights, brake lights and turn indicators come on in their correct colours. The solid glass panel is sectioned into horizontal "slices".
At the rear there is also a retractable diffuser that adjusts with vehicle speed to give better aerodynamic properties.
Interior indicates future design direction
With the interior of the Volvo S60 Concept, Volvo Cars' design director Steve Mattin and his team are displaying a variety of spectacular next-generation ideas.
"You could say that we are showing the road we would like to take in the future. This interior is without doubt the most exclusive we have ever created," says Steve Mattin.
The interior is packed with exciting details, all of which together create a Scandinavian fresh light feeling, full of visual harmony.
In the middle of the four-seater car glitters the jewel in the crown: a floating centre stack made out of handmade, solid Orrefors crystal. It floats like a gentle, calm wave from the instrument panel all the way to the rear seat backrest.
The entire driver's environment has been designed to provide total overview and convenient control.
The combined instrument too has the centre stack's floating, almost weightless feel about it. The instrument is built up in several layers.
"The speedometer is designed as a three-dimensional glass spiral. The low numbers appear closest to the eye and the figures appear to be increasingly distant as you accelerate. The idea is that the speedometer should provide a visual reminder of the forward motion," explains Steve Mattin.
Slim, floating leather seats
The floating theme continues in the concept car's slim, lightweight contoured seats, made of soft Light Blond leather with contrasting stitching. The seats are attached to the centre console's lower section and inner sill, which means that they don't actually touch the floor.
Both the seat belt and the armrest are integrated into the seat itself. The backrest's pony-tail slot, first featured in previous concept cars, has a new, slightly asymmetrical design.
"The aim is to create a pleasant living-room atmosphere with gentle, invisible transfers between the various surfaces. For instance, the dark, ecologically tanned saddle leather on the floor continues up on the lower part of the door," relates Steve Mattin.
The upper part of the doors is faced with genuine blond birch wood of the same colour as the Scandinavian coastline's salt- and sun-bleached wooden piers and driftwood. Two parallel slits create a wave-shaped protrusion whose upper section forms a comfortable leather armrest.
New technology detects pedestrians in the danger zone
The S60 Concept also presents a ground-breaking safety innovation that, among other things, can detect a pedestrian who steps out into the path of the car - and the car's full braking power is automatically activated if the driver does not respond to the danger.
The technology, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and pedestrian detection, will be introduced in the all-new Volvo S60.
"Up until now, we have focused on helping the driver avoid collisions with other vehicles. Now we are taking a giant step forward with a system that also boosts safety for unprotected road-users. New sensor technology also makes it possible to advance from fifty percent to full automatic braking power. To our knowledge, none of our competitors have made such progress in this area," explains Thomas Broberg, safety expert at Volvo Cars.
Avoids collisions at speeds below 20 km/h
The car's speed is of considerable significance to the outcome of a collision with a pedestrian. If speed drops from 50 km/h to 30 km/h, the chance of a pedestrian's survival dramatically increases.
"Our aim is that this new technology should help the driver avoid collisions with pedestrians at speeds below 20 km/h. If the car is being driven faster, the aim is to reduce the impact speed as much as possible. In most cases, we can reduce the collision force by about 75 percent," says Thomas Broberg.
This technology is also highly beneficial in the event of rear-end impacts with other vehicles. Studies indicate that half of all drivers who drive into another vehicle from behind do not brake prior to the collision.
In such cases, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake can help entirely avoid a collision if the relative speed difference between the two vehicles is less than 25 km/h.
Visual warning on head-up display
In an emergency situation, the driver first gets an audible warning together with a flashing lightin the windscreen's head-up display. In order to prompt an immediate, intuitive reaction, the visual warning is designed to look like a brake light coming on in front.
If the driver does not respond to the warning and the system assesses that a collision is imminent, the car's full braking power is activated automatically.
The main aim is still for the initial warning to be sufficient for the driver to brake or manoeuvre away from the hazard. Full automatic braking is an emergency measure that is only activated when the collision is imminent.
Upgraded Adaptive Cruise Control
Volvo Cars' Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) has now been upgraded with a queue assist function.
The radar-based Adaptive Cruise Control maintains the set time gap to the vehicle in front all the way down to standstill, making this comfort-enhancing system usable in slow-moving queues with repeated starting and stopping.
CO2-emissions at 119g/km
The engine that Volvo Cars has chosen for the Volvo S60 Concept is a four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol unit using high-efficiency GTDi (Gasoline Turbocharged Direct Injection) technology and producing 180 horsepower.
In a conventional petrol engine, fuel is injected into the inlet manifold ahead of the inlet valves. With direct injection, however, the fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber under high pressure.
The engine in combination with a range of other technical measures makes it possible to cut carbon dioxide emissions to 119 g/km (5.0 l/100 km).
Volvo Cars' first production car with GTDi technology will be introduced during the second half of 2009.
Electric power steering, stratified combustion and other measures
In addition to GTDi technology, the Volvo S60 Concept integrates the following technical features to bring CO2 emissions down to 119 g/km:
- Stratified combustion. The combustion chamber is designed such that a mist consisting of the optimal blend of air and fuel is formed around the spark plug, surrounded in turn by pure air. This allows the engine to operate with a surplus of air, thus cutting fuel consumption.
- Start/stop, a functionality that switches off the engine when the car is at a standstill.
- Powershift. Two manual gearboxes work in parallel, each regulated by its own clutch.
- EPAS (Electric Power Assisted Steering). In principle an "electric servo" where the conventional hydraulic pump has been replaced by an electric motor.
- "DRIVe-Mode". Gives the driver the possibility of reducing fuel consumption via an "economy mode" that limits the function of a number of selected electrical or mechanical systems.
- Grille shutter. A wind-deflecting panel that can be closed to reduce air drag when there is less need for cooling air.
- Flat underbody panels.
- The use of lightweight materials in the car body.