Thursday 18 December 2008

Concept Car: Volvo S60

The current S60 has been on the market since 2000. Lately, sales have plummeted massively so the Swedish firm has redesigned the normally conservative S60 in an attempt to break into the hotly contested compact executive market. The newcomer will compete with the ever-popular BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4, Lexus IS, Alfa Romeo 159, Cadillac BLS and the Jaguar X-Type.

According to design boss Steve Mattin, the final car will remain close to the concept. The imposing grille and flowing shoulder lines hint at a new design direction for Volvo’s range, while 20-inch alloys, bronze-painted brake calipers, integrated twin exhausts and a retractable rear diffuser show off the S60’s sporting intentions.

Inside is an ultra-modern interior, complete with slim bucket seats and a panoramic roof. The LED headlights project an image of Viking longboats, however, the most eye-catching feature are the doors. The front pair open conventionally, while the rears hinge out before sliding back. As the S60 has no B-pillars, access should prove easy.

The S60 will come stuffed with a raft of new safety kit, including sensors that can apply the brakes if a pedestrian steps into the car’s path.

Engines comprise a range of Ford and Volvo units, including a 2.0 litre diesel and a 1.6 litre turbo petrol. The new S60 is set to reach UK shores early 2010 but before that, it'll premier at next months Detroit motorshow.

Press Release:

The Volvo S60 Concept: An Insight into the Future of Volvo

The Volvo S60 Concept that will be unveiled at next month's North American International Auto

Show (NAIAS) providing a unique insight into the all-new Volvo S60 due 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 help you to be a better and safer driver," says Stephen Odell.

Volvo S60 Concept Exterior - DNA at a new level:

The Volvo Cars design team has clearly upped the ante in the evolution of Volvo's design 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:

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 flank the grill, emphasising the vertical stance of the front and promoting the bonnet's V-shape. The DNA lamps also become the starting points of the fresh sculptural design language of the bumpers. The angled headlamps flow up into the strongly sculptured 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. This car 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 form 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.

A closer look reveals a number of specially designed details. The compact cooling system for the LED bulbs has protruding cooling blocks made out of aluminium, semi-visible under the ships' hulls. The design creates the illusion of shimmering glass panels that float above a dark and mysterious Scandinavian sea.

The semi-transparent housing incorporates a layered ring-like formation that is part of the position lights. You can see the confident face of the concept car illuminating in a ring-like formation.

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.

The unique rear doors offer a spectacular show whenever they are opened and shut. Door movement starts off in the traditional way via the push of a button. In the next phase, the forward section 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.

Since the car does not have a B-pillar between the front and rear seats, this door configuration offers exceptionally generous entry and exit access.

Both the seven-spoke 20-inch wheels and the tread of the low-profile tyres have been specially designed to accentuate the concept car's muscular, sporty looks. The bronze-painted brake callipers match the car's 'Warm Liquid Copper' paintwork, which draws its inspiration from Sweden's rich copper mining history.

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 flowing 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 up front. When switched off, the lamp panels show no trace of the traditional red or yellow associated with rear lights. But when activated, the position marker lights, brake lights and turn indicators come on in their correct colours with the help of LED bulbs.

The lighting system's solid glass panel is sectioned into horizontal "slices" that create the visual impression of a three-dimensional architect drawing when the lights come on.

At the rear there is also a retractable diffuser that adjusts with vehicle speed to give better aerodynamic properties.

The S60 Concept Interior - a visionary celebration of Scandinavian design:

With the interior of the Volvo S60 Concept, Volvo Cars' design director Steve Mattin and his team are displaying a variety of spectacular ideas for future models.

"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 expresses a typically Scandinavian feel: fresh, light and airy. In the middle of the four-seater car glitters the jewel in the crown - a floating centre stack crafted from handmade, solid Orrefors crystal. It floats like a gentle, calm wave from the instrument panel all the way to the rear seat backrest.

"It resembles a waterfall that flows down from the instrument panel and then courses along the middle of the car's interior," says Steve Mattin.

The crystal panel appears to float above the centre stack and is partially framed by polished aluminium trim. With the help of invisible light sources, the crystal's shimmering glow can be tailored to match the driver's mood.

"If you want to explore the full scope of Scandinavian design, Sweden's glassworks are a natural source of inspiration. What is more, large glass panels are a central part of the very openness that characterises modern Swedish architecture," explains Steve Mattin.

Creativity and functionality:

Although the material in the centre stack radiates uninhibited artistic freedom, the interior's functionality remains.The gear selector has an entirely new, flexible design. In the horizontal standby position the car changes gear automatically. If the driver is in the mood for changing gear manually, the lever can be flipped up into the vertical position. Beside the gear selector there is also an integrated starter button and parking brake. The centre console runs all the way to the rear seat backrest, and under the crystal panel between the individual seats there are two drinks holders that elegantly slide out when required. Beside the driver's seat, the crystal console cuts straight through the instrument panel and its upper section forms a navigation screen at the precise height of the driver's combined instrument panel. At the bottom, the four iconic rotating controls protrude from elegant matt-polished recesses in the glass panel. In the middle there is a removable remote control.

"We've put the focus on ergonomics and safety. With the combined instrument at the same height as the navigation screen, all it takes is a horizontal eye movement to switch between the sources of information. Another example is that the controls used when you start and stop driving are a few centimetres from each other near the gear selector," explains Steve Mattin.

Driver-oriented environment:

The entire driving environment has been designed to provide convenient control. The driver is backed up by functional instruments, easily accessible controls and sophisticated technology that monitors the surrounding traffic, ready to alert the driver in the event of danger.

The combined instrument is similar in design to the unit in the Volvo XC60 Concept. It resembles a bumble-bee with a round speedometer as the "body" flanked by two digital "wings" providing all the other information.

"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 force of the forward motion," explains Steve Mattin.

The combined instrument too has the centre stack's floating, almost weightless feel about it. The instrument is built up in several layers. In the gaps between the layers concealed vents contribute to better airflow inside the cabin.

Safety information in the head-up display:

Above the combined instrument, the driver receives information and alerts from the preventive safety systems via the windscreen's head-up display. Information from the car's Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) is integrated in the A-pillars.

The three-spoke steering wheel has integrated multifunctional rotating controls. The open lightweight aluminium pedals echo the design language of the concept car's wheels.

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.

The Volvo S60 Concept - One song with customer demands:

The Volvo S60 Concept was created to pave the way for Volvo Cars in one of the automotive world's most focused and competitive segments.

"Customers in this segment know exactly what they want. The emphasis is on emotional appeal, sporty design and dynamic driving properties. Success in the segment will do a lot for the brand's image and we are convinced that the all-new Volvo S60 is going to be a particularly strong contender," says Stephen Odell.

The first-generation Volvo S60 was launched in 2000 and was profiled as a coupe with four doors. The car's sporty nature has made the S60 one of Volvo Cars' most global models.

"Irrespective of whether the customers are in the USA, Europe or Russia, they all prioritise the same things. Now we are giving them an entirely new S60 packed with both emotional and rational appeal. A car designed to make a unique impact even among the most discerning buyers," says Stephen Odell.

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