A hint of the future of Volvo car design was unveiled today amid a flurry of photographers' flashbulbs at the 73rd Geneva International Motor Show. The Volvo Versatility Concept Car (VCC) takes the estate concept to new levels of performance, technology and luxury.
The exterior design of the Versatility Concept Car (VCC) is both dramatic and simple; perhaps a reflection of the fact that two of Volvo's design studios have joined forces in its creation: Barcelona in Spain and Göteborg in Sweden. A number of characteristic design elements ensure that no one is going to miss the fact that this is a Volvo:
Some of the inspiration has been obtained from Volvo's rich design heritage; the distinctive rear design with a glass tailgate, also featured in the Safety Concept Car, traces its roots to the 1971 Volvo P1800 ES. The large, distinguished grille is descended from the 1968 Volvo 164. "The Volvo 164's grille forges a direct link to Volvo luxury, but a strong grille design is also an important display of brand heritage," explains José Diaz de la Vega, Creative Director Strategic Design at Volvo Cars.
Among the most noticeable features in the front are the slim, vertically stacked headlamps. The inner of the two lamps uses a system known as "Static Bending Light" with three light units aimed at different angles. The top fixture points straight ahead and performs as a conventional dipped beam. As the car turns, however, sensors linked to the steering activate units two and finally three to illuminate the direction in which the car is headed. This system carves out a superior light pattern in the dark when driving on twisting roads, thus boosting safety standards. The outer headlamp contains main beam and side marker lamps.
The indicators front and rear and door handles echo the linear character of the headlamps, and are visually connected via the "Volvo Arch". The 20-inch wheels have puncture-safe "Run Flat" 245/40/20 tires from Pirelli.
The VCC design is also characterized by the absence of a B-pillar, made possible by hinging the back doors at the rear instead of the front. This design promotes the display of the remarkable interior, but is, for safety reasons, not intended for production cars. The interior of the VCC is an expression of Scandinavian luxury translated into Volvo's own design language; a sensation of well being that stems from high-quality materials, light, airy interiors and an all-round "sensorial experience".
Elegant simplicity perhaps best epitomizes the VCC's instrument binnacle. This is an evolution of Volvo Cars' current product programs, in particular the XC90 instrument panel. By minimizing the number of design elements, visual pollution is reduced. The surface finishes and colors harmonize with the other elements of the interior. "Our aim is to create an atmosphere of total tranquility for our customers," says José Diaz de la Vega.
Volvo Ambient Air Distribution System
The interior of the Versatility Concept Car has no visible conventional air vents. Instead, air is distributed via concealed outlets. The latter prevents unwanted reflections in the windscreen and provides silent and more uniform air distribution. Additional air is ducted through the tunnel console.
Fixed-center steering wheel
The fixed-center steering wheel allows more controls to be positioned on the wheel, including buttons for the Automated Shifted Manual gearbox. The ergonomic benefits are that the switches and controls are always in the same position. Safety advantages include the possibility for the airbag to be designed for optimum performance.
Optimized A-pillar construction
The use of high-strength steel in the construction of the A-pillars allows a slimmer design for significantly improved visibility - without sacrificing safety.
Floating Center Console
Manufactured in anodized aluminum, the center console floats gracefully through the car - without ever actually touching the dashboard. A two-centimeter gap divides the slim center console from the dashboard, creating a feeling of lightness and space. The center console carries two touch-sensitive slider controls that regulate temperature for the driver and front passenger. Requiring no more than a feather-light touch, the control slides up or down, depending on whether the driver or passenger wants the air to be warmer or cooler. The temperature is indicated with LED lights that change color from cool blue to red-hot. The fan is operated with a similar touch control, as are the power windows.
The center console also carries two adjustable armrests upholstered in thick leather, and beneath them there are two individual cup holders. The sub-woofer for the Premium Sound System is located in the rear of the tunnel for optimized audio performance.
The truly unique and luxuriously designed seating arrangement is beautifully crafted using the traditions of the saddle-maker. Thick, saddle-quality Havana hides complimented with Tempur-foam pads (a Swedish invention) for maximum comfort. The front seats are mounted on rails integrated into the outer sill panel and center tunnel console. This provides a flat, unobstructed floor for the rear passengers. The safety belts are fully integrated into the seat frames, enabling the creation of a design without any B-pillars.
The electrically powered rear seats slide individually, providing optimum flexibility between luggage capacity and legroom. The headrests fold to improve visibility, and concealed beneath the armrest is an optional pop-up integrated child seat for children three years of age and older. The illuminated WHIPS (Whiplash Protection System) and SIPS (Side Impact Protection System) logos in the seats serve as reminders of the comprehensive safety systems on board.
Luggage travels in style
The primary objective for the luggage compartment is to create the same sensorial impact as that of the passenger's lounge. The application of colors and high-grade materials together with minute attention to detail conveys an exclusive atmosphere without sacrificing practicality. For example, the tumble-mill soft leather for the load floor is both durable and luxurious.
For maximum versatility and convenience, the load floor is electrically operated via controls mounted on the D-pillar. The floor slides out from the luggage compartment making it easier to load heavy or awkward items. Beneath the load floor are two storage compartments, one heated and one chilled. The luggage compartment also features an integrated safe-box integrated in the right-hand side panel, while the left side contains a lift-out overnight case, trimmed in matching leather, of course.
The luggage cover is also electrically powered. It can be operated from the driver's seat and also from the switch in the D-pillar. When not in use, the panels are stored in a hidden recess within the rear seat. In addition, the electrically powered tailgate is remotely controlled via the "V-Pulse", a unique new integration feature that brings driver and car closer than ever (see Interaction release).
Roof onto the open skies
The roof panel features an X-frame with ambient lighting. It is operated by slider controls in the overhead console. An illuminated IC (Inflatable Curtain) logo offers another reminder of the safety system incorporated in the roof panel.
The solar panel in the roof is semi-transparent and enhances the feeling of spaciousness, as well as providing power for the Volvo Ambient Air Cleaner (VAAC) system. This continuously cleans the air within the car even when the engine is not running (see VAAC release).
Illuminated Door Panels
The door panels contain large leather-lined foldout storage compartments, together with ambient lighting, which illuminates the top edges of the door insert.
The grab handles are produced in brushed anodized aluminum with contrasting polished edges to compliment the center console. The door inserts are trimmed in the same saddle quality leather as is used on the seats and instrument panel upper.
As a continuation of the saddle-leather theme used on the rest of the upholstery, the same type of material is applied to cover the floor, underlining the concept of a clean, uncluttered interior. Paying particular attention to the comfort of the passenger's feet, Volvo designers have created genuine Nubuck leather strand rugs woven expertly by our Swedish craftsmen.
Color & Trim for automotive "haute couture"
The finest grades of Swedish saddle leather have been carefully selected to compliment the soft Nubuck material. For example, the high-gloss finish and design of the luggage cover is reminiscent of a high-quality cabinet.
Aluminum is used decoratively both on the exterior and interior in a number of ways. For example, it is anodized, brushed, sandblasted and polished. The ambient light further enhances the feeling of exclusivity. The exterior and interior color schemes have been developed to harmonize perfectly, the Volvo expression of automotive "haute couture".