Volvo Reveals 2011 S60 Concept In Advance of NAIAS Debut
By Chris Haak
Volvo has released photos of a thinly-disguised concept version of its S60 sedan that it will reveal in the flesh at next month’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and it completely throws away the box that has defined Volvo’s styling for most of the past few decades. Like the XC60 Concept shown a few years ago that was very similar to the production Volvo XC60, the S60 that hits the market in late 2010 will likely be very similar to this concept car, but of course toned down for reality. It’s likely that the production S60 will be shown later in the upcoming auto show season as well.
The car has an aggressive stance, with large wheels, a Coke bottle shape, a low and sloping roofline (nearly coupe-like, in fact) and some weird back doors. The doors have handles in the front of the door instead of in the rear, but aren’t “suicide doors;” instead, they swing outward on long hinges connected to the front of the doors. Think of them as opening similar to the way a minivan’s doors do, but with a swing-out action instead of sliding on a track. The result is open and easy entry into the cabin, but also something that almost certainly won’t make production, as it’s very difficult to have robust side impact protection with no B-pillar.
The S60 concept also features thinner-than-usual A- and C-pillars for improved driver visibility; many cars have seen thicker and thicker pillars, for both fashionable reasons (C-pillars) and better rollover protection (both A- and C-pillars), but Volvo has apparently figured out how to make their car look good while being strong enough to protect its occupants.
While the interior’s center console made of a large crystal slab – which we reported on in October – also won’t make production, Volvo has indicated that smaller scale utilization of crystal might make its way into future production cars depending on customer response to the material. The shape of the dashboard, center stack, and console will likely be similar in the production S60, however.
The production version of the 2011 S60 will mark the debut of Volvo’s new Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection. The technology can automatically apply the car’s brakes to prevent low-speed collisions (both forward and backward). According to Volvo, studies have shown that 50% of all drivers who collide with the rear of another vehicle do not brake prior to impact. In these situations, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake will sometimes entirely avoid a collision if the speed differential between the two vehicles is less than 16 miles per hour.
Under the hood, there is a Powershift dual-clutch automated gearbox, a 180 hp GTDi engine, EPAS (Electric Power Assisted Steering), a ‘DRIVe-Mode’ fuel economy mode, flat underbody panels, and automatic engine start-stop for stop-and-go traffic, so if this powertrain is found in the production car, it should be a relatively fuel efficient piece, alleviating some of the concerns that we (and presumably many buyers) have expressed about Volvo’s engine choices being rather thin in North America, with fairly heavy cars and inefficient engines. We still don’t know if Volvo would bring such a small engine to North American consumers, though.
Once we’re on the ground in Detroit next month, we’ll bring you photos of the real car as well as our take on how it looks in person, plus any details that have yet to come to light on the car. I’m expecting that Volvo will also confirm a production timeline for the 2011 production version.
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