Describing it as an early Christmas present, Volvo released pictures and details of its new S60 concept car today. We appreciate the company's generous spirit, but we really wanted an Audi R8 V10. Maybe Santa will be nicer next year. Volvo shows some standard concept car cues in the S60 concept, with a center stack handmade out of some kind of crystal we've never heard of (Orrefors anyone?), LED headlights, and no B-pillar, giving the car an open feeling when the front and rear windows are down.
The body design looks good, and we would like to see it on a production car. It's nothing drastic, just some nice European curves on a four-door sedan. According to Volvo, the body lines are reminiscent of the curves on race tracks, which somehow translates to the car being race-inspired. Not the normal way we think of that phrase.
The engine isn't designed for racing performance, but for low emissions and high mileage. It's a new one for Volvo, a 1.6-liter turbocharged direct-injection four cylinder making 180 horsepower. That should be adequate to move the car around, but Volvo touts the low CO2 emissions figure of 119 grams per kilometer. An electric power steering system helps the car achieve that number, by improving the mileage, as does a dual-clutch transmission, which gives the gas-saving benefits of a manual with the convenience of automatic shifting. The concept even includes an eco drive mode, which somehow limits the number of electric and electro-mechanical parts running, thereby saving energy for the drivetrain.
Those LED headlights on the front are designed to look like little Viking long boat sculptures, according to Volvo. We can't really see it from the pictures, but if we see a couple of long boats coming over the horizon some dark night, we're going to hide our valuables and livestock.
The interior has some interesting touches, with a touch panel on the center stack for activating navigation, telephone, and stereo. An LCD sits at the top of the stack, and we imagine the touch panel has other controls for entering destinations, choosing music, and other functions. Volvo calls the shifter a Powershifter--it's a strange design, but looks ergonomic. The car has various safety systems, including one that can recognize pedestrians in front of the car. On detection, it alerts the driver with lights on the instrument cluster. If the driver doesn't react, the car hits the brakes. Parts of this system also work with the adaptive cruise control, which Volvo says works so well now that it can be used in stop and go traffic.
Volvo hasn't said where we will first see this car for real, but we are hoping for the Detroit auto show, coming up in January. For now, check out the photos of the Volvo S60 concept.