Safety and Volvo. As far as the automotive industry is concerned, these two are virtually inseparable entities. No car company pays as much attention to the intricate details of safety the way Volvo does – simply put, your chances of surviving a crash increase tremendously if you’re seated in a Volvo.
But Volvo isn’t all about safety. The company has been known to produce stunning designs from time to time – the likes of the Amazon and P1800 are almost universally regarded as among the most beautiful cars to grace the planet; they are also known to be pretty hardy – with many still in pristine shape even after clocking seven-figure mileages.
As much as we’d like to trumpet about the merits of safety, it is good design that ultimately moves metal out of the showroom. It is a principle that Volvo has come to grasp, and realigned itself to prioritize. Whilst safety will always remain a core company philosophy, Volvo intends to wrap them up in sexy-looking packages to make them desirable once again.
Everybody knows the distinctive Thor’s Hammer lighting signature that will be the defining feature of Volvo faces to come, but that’s just the obvious. In true Scandinavian fashion, there are many little design Easter eggs that Volvo have planted into their recent cars for the discerning eye to appreciate:
Revamped Iron Mark – Like a warrior’s sash across the radiator grille, the Volvo Iron Mark is one of the most recognizable automotive symbols on the road. A recently introduced subtle change sees the diagonal strip across the grille and the northeast-pointed arrow realigned into one direction. The rationale is that the outgoing design – with the diagonal strip, arrow, and ‘Volvo’ typeface all running in three different directions – was confusing to look at. The new simplified design is said to look neater and more harmonious.
Sucking It In – The stunning Volvo Concept Coupe first seen in 2013 foreshadowed many design cues that has come to fruition in the new S90 and V90. Its front grille, which appears to emerge from the metalwork when looked from the side, sports 23 vertical slats aligned in such a way to form a concave-looking fascia. This design cue is taken from early units of the P1800 and is said to resemble the sight of a jet engine sucking in air during a flight. The designers had to fight hard with the engineers to see this design cue implemented in the final production model of the S90 and V90.
The Final Cut – Similar to BMW’s distinctive Hofmeister kink, Volvo’s Final Cut is a dramatic rise of the lower window line near the base of the C-pillar to create the impression of strength and speed. The design cue is visible in recent concept cars from Volvo such as the Concept XC and Concept Coupe and is faithfully transferred to the production vehicles that they inspire.
The Key to Luxury – Volvo’s new key fob design matches its outer finish to the car’s interior upholstery, giving the car a greater sense of personalization. Each car comes with a pair of keys presented in a nicely-finished box, not unlike what you’d get when buying jewellery. Buttons are placed along the side of the key fob, ensuring they don’t get accidentally pressed upon whilst in your pocket. Also presented with each car are sample boards of the various materials used in the vehicle’s cabin, excessively convenient when showing off to your friends what fine stuff your shiny new Volvo is made of.
Look Ma, No Buttons – Volvo’s decision to replace its entire centre stack with a giant touchscreen provoked much debate, but there is no argument that it makes for a cleaner yet more sophisticated-looking cabin. By removing huge swathes of buttons, Volvo has cleverly saved on costs needed not only to make them, but to make them with the feel and quality that befits the price tag of a luxury car. That money saved is then plonked back to high-quality cabin materials that make the interior that much nicer a place to be in. Another benefit of the giant touchscreen is that it is far easier to deliver multiple control configurations for different equipment grades.