Concept Estate reinforces Volvo's new design direction
Back in August, Sweden’s polite, pragmatic auto manufacturer Volvo made waves with its somewhat uncharacteristic Concept Coupé. The Concept XC Coupé followed at the Detroit Motor Show in January and now the company is set to reveal a third un-Volvo like concept in the form of the Concept Estate wagon.
Set to be officially unveiled this week at the Geneva Auto Show, the new shooting brake design from Volvo not only carries over the language and styling cues from the previous concepts, but for the first time reveals the company’s future interior design plans.
The design language on show here, which Volvo says will carry over into future models, is a marked departure from its utilitarian past. Muscular, stylized haunches give the Concept Estate an aggressive yet poised look. Like the Concept Coupé and Concept XC Coupé, the forward design treatment of the Concept Estate features a floating grill, expansive intakes, and the new T-shaped DRL light guides. The rear light treatments are similar to today’s production models but with a more fitting execution. Aside from being beautifully proportioned, the concept’s decreasing roofline, low hoodline, short forward overhangs, fluid waistline treatments and narrowing cabin make for one very stunning wagon.
Moving to the Estate’s sleek interior, Volvo is quick to point out that the new oversized tablet dominating the dash isn’t just for show. The tablet is designed to act as the primary panel for most functions, replacing many of the car’s key controls and buttons. According to Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President Design at Volvo Car Group, the new user interface "is designed to create a smooth, logical and safe interaction between the driver and the car.”
With the exception of a few ancillary items like window heaters and volume control, the new tablet display uses a stacking design and associated icons to manage climate, navigation, media, and phone functions. According to Volvo, the interface which works seamlessly with the instrument cluster and steering wheel thumb controls, and is designed to increase visual recognition and retention by expanding the selected item on screen on contact.
Looking like a mashup between a bespoke 1960s tweed suit and a new-age Swedish living room, the Concept Estate’s interior references Volvo’s 1800 ES shooting brake of the 1970s. In the concept’s cockpit, design details like orange seatbelts, wool carpets, floating leather seats, wood inlays and brushed steel trim are a clear homage to the manufacturer’s Scandinavian home.
“The interior is exceptionally vivid thanks to a full glass roof and seats covered by light colored Bridge of Weir leather that helps to retain a bright and cosy feeling that is the hallmark of a Swedish living room, says Robin Page, Design Director Interior of Volvo Car Group.”
Behind the driver in the shooting brake’s open rear quarters, located underneath a transparent glass sheet, one can find a bespoke version of Swedish Kubb, or Viking Chess. What initially looks like a beautifully styled battery bank is in fact a lawn game which mixes bowling with horseshoes. This unlikely bonus feature that involves throwing the wooden sticks at wooden blocks is sure to make the list as one of Geneva’s more unique additions this week. Rain coats are also included.
This new interior design language, and oversized tablet, will be introduced later in the year starting with the new 2014 Volvo XC90.
Watch for Gizmag’s coverage of the Geneva Auto Show and first-hand photos of the Concept Estate later in the week.