Volvo Concept Universe (2011) first official pictures

Published: 19 April 2011

This the Volvo’s Concept Universe, the Swedish car company's latest concept car.. 

Hang on! Volvo Concept Universe? That’s a pretty superior title – what’s it all about?

It’s peak at Volvo’s future design language, specifically how it sees its big saloons evolving. ‘The Concept Universe offers the world a sneak preview of what people can expect from our next top-of-the-line sedan,’ said Volvo president and CEO Stefan Jacoby. That’s the next S80, mind, not the bigger 7-series/S-class/A8 rival that Volvo’s Chinese owners Geely are so keen to create – this car is only a little larger than the current Volvo S80. Still, Concept Universe was unveiled today at the 2011 Shanghai motor show so it shows where Volvo's priorities lie.

Volvo hasn’t given any hints as to what chassis or platform lies beneath the chic new skin, instead concentrating purely on the design. It’s much more svelte and swoopy than 2003’s slab-sided Versatility Concept Car (Volvo’s last big car concept), with lots of current S60 influences at the rear, but a new design language at the front.

What about inside Concept Universe?

Lashings of wood. Plus the cabin is split in two, with the front half in dark materials to focus the driver, and lighter hues in the back for a more relaxing environment. A couple of big touchscreen monitors remove the need for most buttons, with the dash-mounted screen claimed to automatically rise up to meet the driver’s hand as he or she reaches towards it. The rear seats are moulded into the body of the car, and Volvo spouts some nonsense about passengers in the back being ‘embraced by pure comfort’.

Following its unveiling the 2011 Shanghai motor show, the Volvo Concept Universe will be shown in Europe and the USA to asses customer reaction and reception to Volvo’s new design direction. Expect it to influence the next S80, as if/when it gets the go-ahead, an S90 limo too.

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By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy