Mike Stevens | Apr 19, 2011

Volvo has revealed its mysterious Concept Universe at this week's Shanghai Auto Show, previewing what CEO Stefan Jacoby described as the brand's "next top-of-the-line sedan".

The concept's nose, a departure from the still-new face of the S60, comes in response to a request from Volvo-owner Geely that the Concept Universe's designers look to the "serenity in the light of the rising sun" for inspiration.

Styling cues from other classic Volvo models can be seen in the Universe, including the bonnet of the PV544 - from which the concept also borrows the low position of the grille and headlights.

Although the the Universe's front end represents a radical step away from Volvo's current design language, its four-door coupe profile and modern taillight design keeps the concept in-line with the brand's newer models.

As a nod to its new Chinese owner, the interior of the Universe features white porcelain-like controls with blue flower highlights, surrounded by fine-grain wood panelling throughout the cabin.

Continuing the minimalist Scandinavian design for which Volvo is so well known, the Universe does away with most physical switches, looking instead to touch-screen controls at the front and in the rear also.

Little has been revealed of the concept's technical specifications, and for now it represents more of a design study to gauge customer interest in a new large flagship sedan based on the Universe.

"Our aim is to be the brand that best understands what buyers of modern luxury cars want. We are eager to hear what the most demanding Chinese customers think of this luxurious concept," Stefan Jacoby said.

Later, we will show the design in Europe and the United States in order to bring it into the global context that we are aiming for with all our car models."

If the Universe is put into production - and if Jacoby's words are anything to go by, it will - it will take on the very top-end of the luxury sedan segment, including BMW's 7 Series, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Audi A8 and the Jaguar XJ.

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