29 Aug 2013

Volvo Concept Coupe - the new P1800

This is the Volvo Concept Coupe.  It harks back to the P1800 in some respects but is a thoroughly modern motor underneath.
New Volvo P1800 - 2014 Volvo Concept Coupe

Volvo - the only Swedish car company that survived the worldwide downturn and, much like Jaguar, has risen from the that downturn, and from stagnant Ford ownership, full of confidence - and in foreign hands.  But also, like Jaguar, that new ownership seems to be hands-off.

Volvo newest car, the V40, is brilliant. Even the 10 year old XC90 is still an exceptional and genre-defining car.  Volvo's new-ish owners are giving them free reign.  And, like Jaguar again, the company plans to turn its fortunes around by utilising a maverick, talented designer.

Volvo's senior vice-president of design is Thomas Ingenlath.  He joined the company in 2012 (from VW Group, where he designed the Bluesport concept and ┼ákoda Roomster) and has created this, the new Volvo Concept Coupe.  A car which Volvo itself calls the next generation P1800.

The Concept Coupe showcases Volvo's design direction, scalable product architecture, safety features and range of new engines.  The engine is the new Design-E 2 litre petrol with both a supercharger, for low rev power, and a turbocharger for upper rev range boost.  Turbo-lag?  Nah!  Oh, and it's got an electric engine too.  It seems no modern concept cannot be a hybrid.

The petrol engine drives the front wheels, the electric drives the rear.  They have a combined output of 400bhp and 442 lb ft of torque.  Power.  We like power.
New Volvo P1800 - 2014 Volvo Concept Coupe

Scalable architecture is similar in concept to any other manufacturer's platform principle whereas different cars utilise the same basics of chassis etc.  Volvo has developed SPA - Scalable Product Architecture which means they can create a variety of new concepts based around the SPA and bring them to market much quicker and cheaper than without SPA.

It also means they don't have to save costs by borrowing chassis' from other manufacturers, with all the inherent restrictions that brings.

You can read about the new Volvo engines here.  The Concept Coupe uses the first one, the supercharged, turbocharged 2 litre petrol.

You can read about Volvo's upcoming safety features here.  Safe to say the CC is packed with them, and Volvo likes that.  A lot.  They don't want any of their cars to hurt or kill anyone.  Ever.

The CC showcases Volvo's future design direction.  What that means is...well, I'll let Thomas Ingenlath explain:

"Every strong brand needs a set of visual keys that makes it unique. Future Volvos will be characterised by the distinctive iron mark in the floating grille, flanked by the T-shaped DRL lights. The larger bonnet with its new topography, the beltline spanning an elegant bow along the whole car and the sharpened shoulder connecting with the new rear light are other important design signatures.

"We will continue to build on the premium feel in the new Volvo V40. The new user interface with a large, portrait touch-screen in the centre console allows us to remove almost all buttons. This simplicity is perfectly in tune with our Scandinavian design heritage. It opens up clean surfaces that give us the opportunity to create a luxurious interior experience with new forms."

Part designer-speak flowery bollocks but worthwhile recounting word for word I thought.

Volvo want to go premium, they want to go more uniquely Volvo, they want to sell more cars - 800,000 a year by 2020.  Compared to 422,000 in 2012.

And finally to the look of the Concept Coupe.  I like it.  Do you?  It's a confidently styled coupe hatchback with a glass roof and a crystal gear knob.  Handcrafted Swedish crystal.  

The lines are both sharp and smooth (now I'm talking flowery bollocks) with some nods to the P1800 and some ultra-modern touches, such as the LED lights (the Swedish love their lights) and the Tesla-ish central portrait screen - which will do away with a lot of knobs and switches.

The first product of all this tech, design, engine and SPA will be the 2014 XC90.  Hopefully a modern P1800 will see the light of day at some point too.  This concept is too good an opportunity for a Volvo sports coupe not to see the light of day and help the company complete the transformation from makers of worthy but dull boxes into some altogether more stylish cars.
New Volvo P1800 - 2014 Volvo Concept Coupe

New Volvo P1800 - 2014 Volvo Concept Coupe

New Volvo P1800 - 2014 Volvo Concept Coupe

New Volvo P1800 - 2014 Volvo Concept Coupe

New Volvo P1800 - 2014 Volvo Concept Coupe dashboard

New Volvo P1800 - 2014 Volvo Concept Coupe interior

New Volvo P1800 - 2014 Volvo Concept Coupe

New Volvo P1800 - 2014 Volvo Concept Coupe

New Volvo P1800 - 2014 Volvo Concept Coupe

New Volvo P1800 - 2014 Volvo Concept Coupe

Article by Matt Hubbard