The saying “everything that’s old is new again” is a common fixture in the auto industry. For some car companies trying to re-establish their identity, a look at past success can provide some input moving forward. Swedish born auto manufacturer Volvo is one brand seeking a more colourful representation in a premium car market. Already announced a return to factory-supported touring car racing in Australia, Volvo has now revealed what could possibly be their most exciting hybrid concept coupe in a long time derived from the saintly history of popular P1800.
Produced to highlight their new Scalable Product Architecture being deployed on upcoming production vehicles, Volvo created the Concept Coupe to show off the shape of cars to come from the brand. Borrowing heavily from the P1800, Volvo can easily be forgiven if their forward look projected with the Concept Coupe resembles a car built from 1961 to 1973. Inspiration from the P1800 is clear with Volvo Concept Coupe’s silhouette. The heritage truly comes alive in the Concept Coupe’s side bodywork as a character sloop running from the headlamp to the door handle.
Not only attempting to rekindle the image of a beloved vehicle, the Volvo Concept Coupe is proving a lot of potential for where the brand is heading into the near future. The front end adheres to Volvo product’s upcoming facial features that include a pronounced grille and T-shaped daytime running lights. Rear treatment is most elegant presenting minimal clutter. Five-spoke 21-inch wheels works well to emphasize the Volvo Concept Coupe’s low roof and long hood.
Functioning as a plug-in hybrid, the Volvo Concept Coupe provocatively shows off the performance available from such a vehicle. With a rear-mounted electric motor, a four-cylinder Drive-E gasoline engine is mated with a turbocharger and supercharger on the Concept Coupe. The configuration is estimated to produce 400 horsepower and 440 pounds feet of torque.
The approach to the Volvo Concept Coupe’s interior is also decisively modern. The blue-grey coloured cabin is crafted as a calming atmosphere with Scandinavian style (without the need to comprehend tricky Ikea instructions). A mixture of naturally aged wood, woven carpets and leather promotes Volvo’s luxury image while a giant center console touch screen featuring a user-friendly interface heightened the passenger’s level of enjoyment. The driver also receives a heads-up display system providing an extra level of safety so attention is focused squarely on the road. Described as sparkling crystal, the Coupe Concept’s shift lever provides a gleaming centerpiece to the show car.
The Volvo P1800 also enjoyed some popular thanks to a silver screen product placement. A white P1800 was the vehicle driven by master thief Simon Templar in the television adaptation of The Saint. Played by future James Bond actor Roger Moore, the television show originally attempted to acquire a Jaguar in 1962 but was refused. When the Swedish car company agreed to provide a P1800 coupe for the show, the vehicle received instant praise and recognition for Volvo. The Volvo P1800’s relationship with The Saint also served as one of the earliest cars to gain massive popularity in association to a TV show or movie. The P1800 presence in The Saint came a full two years before James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 made its own iconic appearance.
Volvo’s P1800 was also a monumental vehicle is establishing a history for safety and reliability. Though the reliability that allowed P1800s to cross the one-million mile mark is more or less absent from today’s Volvo, safety innovation is part of the Concept Coupe’s technology array. One of the production-ready features is autonomous steering that will assist in accident avoidance. Volvo also indicates that the Scalable Product Architecture can be modified to accept fully autonomous driving technology for the near future.
A brand new coupe would make a great addition to the production line-up for Volvo but this Concept Coupe is, for the meantime, only a test bed for ideas. For customers, the 2014 Volvo XC90 will be the first vehicle from the Swedish brand exhibiting the refreshed premium carmaker‘s pursuit for new design and technology.