Volvo S60 Concept drives itself in stop-start traffic
By Mike Hanlon
December 17, 2008
Volvo has finally released images of the Volvo S60 Concept car which will be unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show in January. The Concept, which we originally previewed here, gives an indication of what the all-new Volvo S60 will look like when launched in 2010.
Apart from the previously mentioned floating centre stack made out of handmade, solid Orrefors crystal, the car features a four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol engine using high-efficiency GTDi (Gasoline Turbocharged Direct Injection) technology and producing 180 horsepower. In a conventional petrol engine, fuel is injected into the inlet manifold ahead of the inlet valves. With direct injection, however, the fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber under high pressure.
The vehicle also has an upgraded version of Volvo's Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with a queue assist function. The radar-based Adaptive Cruise Control maintains the set time gap to the vehicle in front all the way down to standstill, meaning the car can drive itself in slow-moving queues with repeated starting and stopping.
"The all-new S60 will be one of the strongest players in a segment where the competition is razor-sharp," says Volvo Cars President and CEO Stephen Odell. The coupe-inspired lines that gave the original S60 its characteristic stance are more pronounced in this next generation. "The sporty design gives a visual promise of an enthusiastic drive and I can assure you that the all-new S60 will live up to that promise. The driving properties are better than in any previous Volvo," says Stephen Odell. "The concept car's exterior gives a clear indication of what customers can expect of the all-new S60. On the inside we've been even more daring," says Volvo Cars Design Director Steve Mattin.
The front of the S60 Concept sports the enlarged iron mark in the trapezoidal grille. The two lamps that flank the grille emphasise the vertical stance of the front and highlight the bonnet's V-shape. The angled headlamps flow up into the strongly sculptured bonnet and, combined with the lower air intake's reverse trapezoidal shape, this gives the concept car a very expressive ‘face’.
Viewed from the side, the concept car's slim coupe roofline and window graphics are accompanied by an entirely new shoulder line, forming a gentle double wave, stretching from the headlamps all the way to the rear. Both the seven-spoke 20-inch wheels and the tread of the low-profile tyres have been specially designed, while the bronze-painted brake callipers match the ‘Warm Liquid Copper’ livery.
The unique rear parallelogram doors offer a spectacular show when they are opened and closed. Door opening is initiated by pressing a button and the movement starts off in the traditional way. In the next phase, the forward section swings out away from the car's body and the door glides parallel with the side of the car until it reaches its end position by the rear wheel.
Inspiration from Viking longboats
In each of the headlamps, the lights create a silhouette of two miniature Viking longboats sailing side by side, one for main beam and one for dipped beam. When driving in the dark, the light is reflected from the concealed, upward-facing High Performance LED bulbs, projected ahead by the ships' filled sails.
Inspiration from the racing track
"In forthcoming models, you will see more and more of our ‘racetrack’ design cues. The car's lines do not end abruptly but instead forge a continuous flow pattern inspired by the fast sweeps of the racing track. In the concept car, this is particularly visible at the rear," says Steve Mattin. The tail lamps, which follow the curve of the rear shoulders, are as advanced as the headlamps. When switched off, the lamp panels show no trace of the traditional red or yellow. But when activated, the position marker lights, brake lights and turn indicators come on in their correct colours. The solid glass panel is sectioned into horizontal ‘slices’. At the rear there is also a retractable diffuser that adjusts with vehicle speed to give better aerodynamic properties.
Interior indicates future design direction
With the interior of the Volvo S60 Concept, Volvo Cars' design director Steve Mattin and his team are displaying a variety of new ideas. The interior is packed with exciting details, all of which together create a Scandinavian fresh light feeling. "You could say that we are showing the road we would like to take in the future. This interior is without doubt the most exclusive we have ever created," says Steve Mattin. In the middle of the four-seater car sits the floating centre stack made out of handmade, solid Orrefors crystal. It floats like a gentle wave from the instrument panel all the way to the rear seat backrest.
The driver's environment has been designed to provide good visibility and convenient control. The combined instrument too has the centre stack's floating, almost weightless feel about it and is built up in several layers. "The speedometer is designed as a three-dimensional glass spiral. The low numbers appear closest to the eye and the figures appear to be increasingly distant as you accelerate. The idea is that the speedometer should provide a visual reminder of the forward motion," explains Steve Mattin.
Slim, floating leather seats
The floating theme continues in the concept car's slim, lightweight contoured seats, made of soft Light Blond leather with contrasting stitching. The seats are attached to the centre console's lower section and inner sill, which means that they don't actually touch the floor. Both the seat belt and the armrest are integrated into the seat itself. The backrest's pony-tail slot, first featured in previous concept cars, has a new, slightly asymmetrical design.
"The aim is to create a pleasant living-room atmosphere with gentle, invisible transfers between the various surfaces. For instance, the dark, ecologically tanned saddle leather on the floor continues up on the lower part of the door," relates Steve Mattin. The upper part of the doors is faced with genuine blond birch wood of the same colour as the Scandinavian coastline's salt- and sun-bleached wooden piers and driftwood.
New technology detects pedestrians in the danger zone
The S60 Concept also presents a safety innovation that can detect a pedestrian who steps out into the path of the car and the car's full braking power is automatically activated if the driver does not respond to the danger. The technology, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and pedestrian detection, will be introduced in the all-new Volvo S60. "Up until now, we have focused on helping the driver avoid collisions with other vehicles. Now we are taking a giant step forward with a system that also boosts safety for unprotected road-users. New sensor technology also makes it possible to advance from 50 percent to full automatic braking power. To our knowledge, none of our competitors has made such progress in this area," explains Thomas Broberg, safety expert at Volvo Cars.
The car's speed has a significant effect on the result of a collision with a pedestrian. If speed drops from 31mph to 18mph, the chance of a pedestrian's survival increases.
"Our aim is that this new technology should help the driver avoid collisions with pedestrians at speeds below 12mph. If the car is being driven faster, the aim is to reduce the impact speed as much as possible. In most cases, we can reduce the collision force by about 75 percent," says Thomas Broberg. This technology is also highly beneficial in the event of rear-end impacts with other vehicles. Studies indicate that half of all drivers who drive into another vehicle from behind do not brake prior to the collision. In such cases, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake can help entirely avoid a collision if the relative speed difference between the two vehicles is less than 15mph.
Visual warning on head-up display
In an emergency situation, the driver first gets an audible warning together with a flashing light in the windscreen's head-up display. In order to prompt an immediate, intuitive reaction, the visual warning is designed to look like a brake light coming on in front. If the driver does not respond to the warning and the system assesses that a collision is imminent, the car's full braking power is activated automatically. The main aim is still for the initial warning to be sufficient for the driver to brake or manoeuvre away from the hazard. Full automatic braking is an emergency measure that is only activated when the collision is imminent.
Upgraded Adaptive Cruise Control
Volvo Cars' Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) has now been upgraded with a queue assist function. The radar-based Adaptive Cruise Control maintains the set time gap to the vehicle in front all the way down to standstill, making this comfort-enhancing system usable in slow-moving queues with repeated starting and stopping.
CO2-emissions at 119g/km
The engine that Volvo Cars has chosen for the Volvo S60 Concept is a four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol unit using high-efficiency GTDi (Gasoline Turbocharged Direct Injection) technology and producing 180 horsepower. In a conventional petrol engine, fuel is injected into the inlet manifold ahead of the inlet valves. With direct injection, however, the fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber under high pressure. The engine in combination with a range of other technical measures makes it possible to cut carbon dioxide emissions to 119g/km. Volvo Cars' first production car with GTDi technology will be introduced during the second half of 2009.
Bringing down CO2 emissions
In addition to GTDi technology, the Volvo S60 Concept uses the following technical features to bring CO2 emissions down to 119g/km:
- Stratified combustion. The combustion chamber is designed such that a mist consisting of the optimal blend of air and fuel is formed around the spark plug, surrounded in turn by pure air. This allows the engine to operate with a surplus of air, thus cutting fuel consumption.
Start/stop, a functionality that switches off the engine when the car is at a standstill.
Powershift. Two manual gearboxes work in parallel, each regulated by its own clutch.
EPAS (Electric Power Assisted Steering). In principle an ‘electric servo’ where the conventional hydraulic pump has been replaced by an electric motor.
‘DRIVe-Mode’. Gives the driver the possibility of reducing fuel consumption via an ‘economy mode’ that limits the function of a number of selected electrical or mechanical systems.
Grille shutter. A wind-deflecting panel that can be closed to reduce air drag when there is less need for cooling air.
Flat underbody panels.
The use of lightweight materials in the car body.
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