Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Volvo Concept luxury car auto show 2011

Volvo has raised the shade at the Shanghai Auto Show on a concept car enigmatically named Volvo Concept Universe, hinting at what the next-generation S80 flagship sedan might look like. And, well, it looks like a big luxury car. It’s got a long cover and a high heavy trunk, something like the Jaguar XJ-L. A long concave style line running fore and aft above the rocker panel provides a horizontal reference point and all the corners are rounded off.

One of the most eye-catching points, at least from the exterior, is a new grille treatment, bright concentric circles - don’t say they look like a backyard grill - that light up like a neon sign. That op-art effect is repeated in what look like LED headlight surrounds. Another strange feature that is likely for auto show pizzazz, rather than showrooms, is the front-opening “suicide” rear doors.

The futuristic Swedish-austere interior has more of the sketchbook look of a never-to-be-built concept. The two rear seats are molded plastic, apparently un-upholstered. Switches and controls are concentrated on a touch-screen that moves itself toward the hand when the driver reaches for it.

The broader implication here is that Volvo’s new owner, China’s Geely, is trying to raise Volvo’s status from premium to true luxury, making the brand a more credible direct competitor to BMW and Mercedes-Benz. While there’s a nod to things Chinese in the blue-and-white porcelain decoration on the shift lever, nearly all the design language says “European” - stills the font of high-status cars.