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Brand New Volvo S60

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Tony O'Kane | Dec 17, 2008

Volvo has taken the wraps off its seductive S60 Concept a few weeks before its official unveiling at the North American International Motor Show in Detroit, giving us a sneak peek at the car that’ll form the basis for the 2010 S60.

And boy, is this just about the most non-Volvo-looking Volvo, or what? Yep, there’s the Swedish automaker’s signature grille and high-waisted bodylines, but the S60 Concept’s front end is so much bolder, and so much more blunt-edged than previous Volvo sedans. While one could argue that the S60 Concept still exhibits Volvo’s trademark slabbishness, there are now organic curves and smooth, undulating creases where there were previously ruler-straight edges and sharp, no-nonsense forms.

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The front end styling is perhaps the most wildly 'evolved' aspect of the S60 Concept, with the leading edge of the bonnet seeming to overhang the front bumper. The Viking Longboat-inspired (no, we’re not kidding) headlights and their attendant "DNA Lamps” are also a bold new look for the S60, as are the free-form trapezoidal cooling apertures in the front bumper. Tiny vents at the rear corners of the bonnet may serve no discernable function, but they look trick and add some visual drama to the S60’s nose.

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Head around back and you’re greeted by what is possibly the shortest rump in all of sedan-dom. Like the front, the trailing edge of the bootlid appears to be as far back as the bumper itself, forming an almost vertical drop-off. Subtle buttresses extending back from the C-pillar right to the edge of the bootlid gives the S60 Concept an almost hatchback-like appearance, but that’s a good thing: it looks a hell of a lot sportier for it. Triangular outlets and a variable geometry diffuser also help inject a bit more athleticism into the design.

By now I’m sure most of you have been eyeballing those doorhandles, thinking “At last! Suicide doors on a Volvo”. Well, they are and they aren’t. While hinged at the rear, the S60 Concept’s back doors actually utilise a tricky mechanism that slides them rearward and outward at the push of a button. Think sliding doors from your mum’s Tarago, but way cooler.

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The end result is a car that doesn’t need a B-pillar and can allow even the most generously-proportioned passenger to enter the back seats with ease. Just don’t be too surprised if it doesn’t make it to the production version.

The interior features the gloriously detailed floating crystal centre console that Volvo teased us with a couple of months ago, which forms the centrepiece of the S60’s cabin. Heavily-bolstered bucket seats sit either side of the centre tunnel and generous lashings of chrome, leather, wood and translucent plastics make the interior of the Concept a nice place to be. A head-up display and a fighter-jet like gear-lever make it a futuristic one.

The S60 Concept will also showcase Volvo’s new Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake system, which will automatically bring the car to a complete halt if the driver fails to react to an obstacle, like a pedestrian, suddenly appearing in front of it.

The new collision avoidance system is said to almost completely eliminate the chance of hitting a pedestrian at speeds of up to 20kph, while impact speed will be still be markedly reduced should the car be travelling at a higher velocity. It also ties in to the S60’s adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjusts speed all the way down to zerokph (cruising at 'stop'... novel concept) and will be fitted to the production version of the S60.

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But how many of the S60 Concept’s other snazzy new gadgets and gee-gaws will make the transition from show hall to showroom floor? Like we said earlier, the sliding rear doors and pillarless body will likely get nixed, while the crystal centre console, rear bucket seats, glass roof and big chrome wheels probably won’t make it either.

The good news is that the basic bodyshape and bold new design are likely to be keepers and, as for the rest of the package, well, we’ll just have to wait until the real S60 goes on sale later next year.

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