Volvo pulled off quite a shock here today, unveiling the Concept Universe. While there are certain small issues with the design, which we’ve highlighted on our other piece on the live site, for me it really stands out (in a positive way) for three core reasons.
Firstly, as the first project done under Peter Horbury since his return to Volvo, and new owner Geely, it marks a return to exceptionally clean, apparently simple Scandinavian design. So while Saab appears less-and-less likely by the day to take hold of that mantle (one many had hoped it might grasp), we’re pleased that Volvo’s actually positioning itself a clear, distinct distance away from the Germans, having been critics of its previous direction ourselves
Secondly, while some have pointed to the very distinct front end with it’s flat hood and almost bell-shaped plan view and criticized, the surfacing on this car is in other places, exceptional. We’re particularly impressed with the shoulder, which manages an obvious nod toward the traditional Volvo positive shoulder, yet cuts against the section of the car as it heads rearwards. This means that, while it’s actually rising all the way as it wraps back around the car, from some many angles, it appears to be gently falling. Rather than making the car look weak or imbalanced, this gives the vehicle a really gracious, elegant, reclined feeling.
Finally, there are some really great details which reek of the kind of thinking many of us look for in Scandinavian design. So, for instance, the front grille design which concentrates air into a particular point, raising pressure, and thus providing a dense feed of air too a turbo-charged engine. Or the rear breaklight units, made out of a gum-like matte material, which glows from inside, and which could be set for production sooner that many would imagine. Both of which Volvo is apparently patenting.