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Coup de grace. Image by Volvo.

Coup de grace
Volvo finally lays to rest its boxy, middle class, middle-aged past with this stunning blow - the S60 concept.
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The makers of many a posh saloon claim that their three-box executives look like a coupé. Heck, there's even a niche dedicated to it - you know, the one with the Mercedes CLS in it.

But here's a saloon that claims nothing of the sort, yet it really looks like a coupé. Only the shut line beneath the C-pillar gives the game away, and you'll notice there's no door handle in the traditional place too. That's because the S60 concept has clever clogs rear hinged back doors that slide backwards, so the handles are in situ, just like in a Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Anyway, enough about the doors. This Volvo S60 Concept signals yet another design direction shift for the Swedish maker, making it ever more difficult to avoid saying 'Swedish stunner'. We'd never lower ourselves to that, but this Swede is pretty, ahem, stunning. From every angle there's something pleasing on the retinas - like the full length glass roof that stretches without pause from back to front.

Then there are the tailpipes that integrate neatly high into the rear bumper, the short overhangs and resulting 'wheels at each corner' stance, and the busy angles of the bonnet creases and angular three-piece front valance. Inside it's a similar story; a more stylish take on existing Volvo themes, most obviously in the re-interpretation of the 'floating centre console', which now stretches across the transmission tunnel.

The gear lever is noteworthy too (and when was the last time you heard anyone say that?), because it can be flipped from its standard horizontal position in automatic mode to a vertical, upright one for more sporty manual changes. Of course, much of the concept car frippery showcased here won't make it to production, but expect the basic form and function to remain. Which is pleasing, because the fundamentals look promising. The mix of traditional and more modern materials, and the basic architecture, is expected to remain. We do expect though that the Orrefors crystal comprising the floating centre stack will probably make way for a Perspex version.

A production version of the S60 concept debuting in Detroit next month will hit Volvo showrooms in 2010. Designed by Volvo design chief Steve Mattin, the concept is powered by a four-pot 1.6-litre GTDI engine, which produces 180bhp and self-explanatorily stands for gasoline turbocharged direct injection. Volvo reckons it will only spit out 119g/km of carbon dioxide, as well as going nearly 57 miles for every gallon of unleaded.

One thing that doesn't change at Volvo is its obsession with safety, so the S60 concept debuts Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and pedestrian protection. The system can apply full brake force when an imminent crash is detected and slam the brakes on without human intervention, as well as using radar to detect people stepping out and doing the same thing to avoid hitting them. Its cruise control will also vary the car's speed relative to the car in front, all the way down to a complete stop. Sadly it won't steer for you, before you ask.

Mark Nichol - 16 Dec 2008

Earlier articles featuring 2009 Volvo S60 concept

2008-11-24: Volvo concept previews sexy new S60

2009 Volvo S60 Concept. Image by United Pictures.2009 Volvo S60 Concept. Image by United Pictures.2009 Volvo S60 Concept. Image by United Pictures.2009 Volvo S60 Concept. Image by United Pictures.2009 Volvo S60 Concept. Image by United Pictures.

2009 Volvo S60 Concept. Image by United Pictures.2009 Volvo S60 Concept. Image by United Pictures.2009 Volvo S60 Concept. Image by Kyle Fortune.2009 Volvo S60 Concept. Image by Kyle Fortune.2009 Volvo S60 Concept. Image by Kyle Fortune.    - Volvo road tests
- Volvo news
- S60 concept images

View full 2009 Detroit Auto Show report

Lamborghini reveals one-off cars to celebrate end of V12 era. Image by Lamborghini.
Lamborghini Invencible and Autentica
The two special cars are designed to give the naturally aspirated V12 engine an appropriate send-off.
Audi Activesphere concept: Daft Punk or just plain daft? Image by Audi.
Audi Activesphere Concept reveal
Audi’s futuristic Activesphere pick-up concept deletes physical controls in favour of virtual reality headsets.
Skoda Enyaq vRS sets ice drifting world record. Image by Skoda.
Skoda Enyaq vRS Ice Drifting Record
The electric SUV claimed two Guinness World Records for the longest continuous drift on ice for both electric and conventionally powered vehicles.

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