Currently reading: Volvo calls time on 'flashy' car design
Volvo design boss Thomas Ingenlath says premium cars must still contain premium content, and must not rely on big leaps in styling

Volvo’s new generation of cars will call time on ‘bling’ in premium car design, according to the company’s German design boss Thomas Ingenlath.

Ingenlath, who has been at the Swedish carmaker for two and half years, said he thought buyers would begin to turn away from ‘flashy’ design especially if it disguises a "lack of real content".

"You can make big jumps in design when a brand is establishing itself but, after that, it is all about sophistication," he said. "In terms of design language, premium doesn’t need to jump about. [In future] premium design will be about consistency over time."

Ingenlath’s comments, made at the recent Geneva motor show, were reflected by Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern, who was also speaking at Geneva.

McGovern said the approach for the recent facelift of the Evoque was "not to change it, but to improve and refine the design" and to "increase and refine the interior luxury".

He said this approach to luxury was already in evidence on the fashion world’s catwalks where ‘flashy’ design had been replaced by a more polished and refined look.

According to Ingenlath, this shift in premium design is a natural move for a Swedish company. "In Sweden it is not done to show personal wealth – expect, perhaps for owning a boat," he said. "I really had to explain to many people in the company how luxury could be related to the Volvo brand.

"You have to understand how people live in Sweden. You might argue that having the Swedish landscape and ultra-clean air is a kind of ultimate luxury compared to many places in the rest of the world." Swedish luxury, he hints, is public rather than private or personal.

Ingenlath makes it clear that expressing luxury in consumer items is very much frowned upon in Sweden. But pushing the Volvo brand upmarket required him and his team to come up with a design language that bridges both Swedish sensibilities and the need to appeal to global premium car buyers.

The belief that "premium design doesn’t need to radiate content" is, he said, reflected in the cabin of the new Volvo XC90, which is dominated by a large tablet-style touchscreen. "Although the XC90 does, on paper, compete with German SUVs, the interior gives the passenger a completely different experience and has a very different flair," he said.

Ingenlth also denied that Volvo "was becoming an SUV company", despite the Volvo XC60 and XC90 being long-term best sellers. "You must not under-estimate the saloon market in China and America," he said, adding that Volvo would still produce estate cars, despite small sales.

"I am not religious about the definition of estate and SUV," he said. "I see having models such as the XC60 and XC70 together as having a portfolio of estate cars in the widest sense."

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The next all-new Ingelath production car is will be launched at the Geneva show in 2016 and is expected to be the replacement for the S and Volvo V60 models.

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Citytiger 24 March 2015

Some people have obviously

Some people have obviously never heard of the Volvo Amazon, or the P1800, in their day beautiful machines, and a well cared for P1800 will still turn heads.
ordinary bloke 24 March 2015

Never thought ...

.... that Volvo was a bling brand to start with !!
Volvophile 24 March 2015

ordinary bloke wrote:....

ordinary bloke wrote:

.... that Volvo was a bling brand to start with !!

They've made cars ten times more desirable and better looking than Skoda!

oop north 24 March 2015

Hmmm - maybe

Not sure I agree with Volvo's protestations when the XC90 allows buyers to specify 22 inch wheels and "urban" and "rugged" packs that seem to be all about bling appearance, with the rugged pack having the biggest wheels possible (IIRC - their website not showing wheels details on that pack at the moment) and therefore completely failing actually to be rugged.

That said, I do quite fancy a new XC90 but with the smallest wheels possible