Volvo’s 2010 XC60 crossover SUV represents the company’s new design philosophy of nice curves and a distinct lack of the boxy angles that covered previous models. The Volvo S60 Concept, which premiered at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, represents the next iteration of that new design aesthetic. The S60 sedan has been a mainstay of the Volvo lineup since the year 2000, but the new concept will add a new adjective to the descriptions of the car: exciting.
The first thing you’ll notice is the roof line. The traditional S60 maintains the traditional sedan styling. Flat hood, windshield that goes pretty much straight up, flat roof, angled rear window, flat trunk lid. The S60 Concept laughs in the face of such traditions and actually manages to make a Volvo sedan look like a sleek performance coupe. There are no straight lines in this car’s profile. Rather, a sinuous curve that goes from front to back.
It isn’t just the styling that represents a coupe, however. The S60 Concept has been shrunk. Volvo is redistributing their models across segments, so the S60, which used to be their all-purpose sedan, will now be slotted as a mid-sized sedan that will be competing against such established models as the BMW 3-Series and the Audi A4. Volvo’s S80 sedan will settle itself into the larger sedan segment.
The S60 Concept’s powertrain is a four-cylinder turbocharged diesel that manages an impressive fuel economy of 47 mpg combined. By the time the car hits the production line in late 2009-early 2010, though, there will likely also be either an inline five-cylinder of inline six-cylinder gasoline engine variant. Also, considering how the U.S. market tends to treat diesel engines, that powerplant may not even be available in the States.
The real feather in Volvo’s cap is the company’s safety ratings. They have cemented their place as one of the safest car manufacturers in the world. The S60 Concept features an array of safety gadgets that shows off the Swedish company’s innovation. One of the most interesting is the Collision Warning with Autobrake system. Essentially, the car has a radar system built into the front end and when it sees an object that could represent a potential collision it will be begin to apply the brakes if there is no input from the driver. This system is paired with a pedestrian detection system that works much along the same lines and, at speeds under ~12 mph can automatically avoid any pedestrian collision. At higher speeds, the system, and the front end’s construction, is able to drastically reduce injury to the person on foot.
The S60 Concept’s styling is a bit extreme, as is the all-glass roof, so there will probably be some changes to the model before it hits production trim. However, even if the car incorporates half of the styling cues found in the concept, you just might be able to call a Volvo “sleek.”