This is the Volvo Concept Estate, revealed in pictures ahead of its motor show unveiling in Geneva in early March. It’s the last in a series of three concept cars that showcase Volvo’s new chassis platform, called Scalable Product Architecture (SPA).
This latest concept previews the styling of the company’s next-generation estate cars, including the V70 replacement due in 2015. It’ll be unveiled in Geneva as a more dramatic three-door ‘shooting brake’ style hatchback.
The Concept Estate takes cues from the company’s 1800ES estate from the 1970s, including a waistline that flicks up behind the door handles, and extends into a sharp crease over each rear wheelarch. The show car gets high-performance tyres and 21-inch five-spoke alloy wheels.
A glass rear hatch with a black surround takes inspiration from Volvo’s current V40 and V60 models, and the Concept Estate also has a panoramic glass roof. At the front, the grille looks identical to the one seen on the 2013 Concept Coupe - the first SPA-based design revealed at the Frankfurt motor show - albeit with matt black ‘studded’ struts rather than chrome.
The Concept Estate has the same T-shaped daytime running lights and ‘outline’ tail-lights seen on the two previous show cars. Both elements will become signature features of Volvo’s new design language.
Volvo says the Concept Estate’s cabin ‘reveals how the interior of forthcoming models will both look and function’. It’s lavishly trimmed with leather, wood, machined copper and even a crystal gear lever. It also previews the large portrait touch-screen that will appear in the next-gen cars.
This tablet-style touch-screen will control almost all of the car’s functions. It will respond to smartphone-style finger command motions - such as swiping and pinching - to interact with a stack of tiled applications. The sat-nav sits at the top of the stack, while media and telephone functions are lower down. The climate control menu is always available at the bottom of the screen. Tapping on an app expands it to display the relevant information. The other apps shrink around the active display, but remain visible.
The only dashboard buttons to speak of - which sit in a row beneath the screen - are for the hazard warning lights, Park Assist Pilot, audio track and volume, plus the heated front and rear screens.
The first car to be built on the new SPA platform will be the next XC90 SUV, with styling heavily influenced by the Concept XC Coupe seen in Detroit. It will also be the first Volvo to get the all-new touch-screen interface. The XC90 will be revealed later this year, although it won't go on sale until 2015.