Volvo has given the clearest indication yet of its intentions to build a premium rival for the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7 with this swoopy new fastback saloon concept.
Called Concept You, the five-metre-long model is an evolution of the controversial Concept Universe unveiled at the Shanghai motor show earlier this year. That car was created by Volvo to please its Chinese owner, Geely, but the concept’s second iteration, launched at this week’s Frankfurt motor show is a much more European interpretation of how Volvo’s next large saloon will take shape.
The main changes from Concept Universe to Concept You include the adoption of an A7/CLS-style roofline and the addition of a luxurious, high-quality interior. The front end, particularly the grille, has also been toned down from the Shanghai concept and scaled back for a sleeker, more simplistic look, although Concept Universe’s Volvo PV544-inspired bonnet treatment — its most talked-about feature — remains.
Volvo design chief Peter Horbury says the firm is serious about building another large saloon to replace the S80 and Chinese-market S80L, and reaction to the Frankfurt concept will dictate whether the firm goes for a more traditional three-box approach or sticks with Concept You’s coupé-style roofline.
“We have to decide which way we want to go,” he told Autocar, “because we’re not going to do both. We’ll gauge reaction to it and whichever option we choose will be in production by the middle of the decade.”
Concept You is based around Volvo’s new ‘Designed Around You’ strategy, which builds the car around its driver and features simple, intuitive controls. The first production car to benefit from this treatment will be the production version of Concept You, before it filters down through the Volvo range. “We need to get the follow-up to the S80, our flagship, right before moving on to others,” says Horbury.
Concept You’s clean and simple four-seat interior gets features including real Swedish wool carpets, oak and leather trim, and two Apple iPad-style screens to control all the interior functions. The screen on the centre console can sense a driver’s eye movements and display more information the longer it is looked at.