Concept-Volvo S60 Preview

FAST FACTS
  • Concept is a preview of the redesigned 2010 Volvo S60
  • "Coupe-inspired lines.racetrack design cues"
  • Panoramic glass roof
  • Introduces Gasoline Turbocharged Direct Injection (GTDi) technology with engine start/stop feature
  • Powershift transmission similar to Porsche PDK gearbox
  • Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and pedestrian detection system
  • Upgraded Active Cruise Control system that can be used in stop-and-go traffic

Introduction

Volvo's S60 could be renamed the "Oldvo S60." It arrived in 2000 as an early 2001 model, taking the sleek and muscular design language introduced by the 1998 S80 to the next level. Arguably one of the first sedans to exhibit "coupe-like" styling (though Volvo didn't make an attempt to market or pitch it as such), the current Volvo S60 looks-nine years later-almost exactly like the 2001 model, inside and out. To its credit, Volvo has made steady improvements to the S60 over the years, tweaking the design here, adding new safety features there, but by industry standards the car is definitely in need of a redesign. That redesign comes for 2010, and it is previewed by the S60 Concept, which debuts at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Design

"The concept car's exterior gives a clear indication of what customers can expect of the all-new S60," said Volvo Cars Design Director, Steve Mattin. "On the inside, we've been even more daring." Volvo goes on to state that the S60 Concept's design is inspired by Scandinavian design as well as the Swedish coastline's cliffs and seas to create "a thrilling blend of drama and sensuality." Mattin also claims that future Volvos will display more of the company's "racetrack" design cues.

The S60 Concept is equipped with headlights that contain miniature Viking longboat sculptures, rear "parallelogram" doors, 20-inch wheels with unique tread design, and bronze-painted calipers to match its Warm Liquid Copper paint job-none of which is likely to reach production. Except maybe the paint color, inspired by Sweden's rich copper mining history.

Illuminated by a panoramic glass roof, the 4-passenger cabin is, according to Mattin, the most exclusive Volvo has ever created, packed with exciting details to "create a Scandinavian fresh light feeling, full of visual harmony." We're pretty sure the S60 Concept's handmade, solid Orrefors crystal floating center stack is off the table for production. Likewise, the 3-dimensional glass spiral speedometer, which shows the lower velocities closer to the driver and the higher speeds farther away to "provide a visual reminder of the forward motion." And those floating pedestal seats aren't likely to make their way to the local Volvo dealer later this year, either.

Hardware

Stephen Odell, President and CEO of Volvo Cars, made this statement about the new 2010 Volvo S60: "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."

This concept car is equipped with a 180-hp, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that introduces Volvo's new Gasoline Turbocharged Direct Injection (GTDi) technology to the world. Volvo says GTDi will debut on a production Volvo in the second half of 2009. Curiously, that's about when the 2010 Volvo S60 is expected to go on sale. The S60 Concept also features engine start/stop technology to save fuel and cut emissions while idling, and a DRIVe-mode system that allows the driver to reduce consumption and emissions by creating an economy operation mode.

Paired with the S60 Concept's GTDi engine is a Powershift transmission design, which is "two manual gearboxes that work in parallel, each regulated by its own clutch." This description of Powershift sounds similar to Porsche's PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) transmission that just debuted on the 911.

Technology

Volvo has long been known as a leader in safety technology, and the S60 Concept debuts a new feature that will be available on the 2010 Volvo S60: Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and pedestrian detection. Let's call it CWFAB until Volvo tells us what the acronym should be. Thomas Broberg, a safety expert with Volvo Cars, says that new sensor technology allows CWFAB to apply full braking power when the car detects that a collision is imminent. At speeds below 18 mph, CWFAB aims to avoid a collision completely. At speeds higher than that the system scrubs as much speed as possible before impact to reduce collision force by 75 percent. This, according to Volvo, will dramatically improve the likelihood of a pedestrian surviving an impact, not to mention the redesigned S60's occupants.

Also debuting on the S60 Concept is Volvo's upgraded Adaptive Cruise Control system. Now equipped with a "queue assist function," Volvo's ACC can be used in stop-and-go traffic for the first time.