Mattin's exit is the latest in a series of design shake-ups in the industry

Mattin's exit is the latest in a series of design shake-ups in the industry

Volvo has released details and images for a new concept vehicle previewing its next-generation S60 saloon due in 2010. The concept car will make its world debut next month at the Detroit Auto Show and reveals the latest evolution of Volvo’s current design theme.

"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 - there the focus has been on creating a vision of the future in the slightly longer perspective," explained Volvo design director Steve Mattin.

At first glance, the S60 features definite coupe-like proportions, accompanied by strong shoulders, which together give it a look that is very similar to the design of the recent Jaguar C-XF concept vehicle. There are, however, plenty of unique elements such as the traditional Volvo grille, sculptured headlamps with LED bulbs, floating doors, and open design with no B-pillar blocking entry to the cabin.

Some interesting performance elements include a retractable diffuser that adjusts with vehicle speed to give better aerodynamic properties, as well as an advanced compact petrol engine with direct-injection and turbocharging technologies. The tiny mill displaces just 1.6L but develops a peak output of 180hp (134kW). Fuel consumption is rated at an impressive 47mpg (5.0L/100km) and emissions levels are a correspondingly low 119g/km. Driving the front wheels is Volvo's PowerShift six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Inside, Volvo has attempted to focus on ergonomics and safety. With the combined instrument at the same height as the navigation screen, all it takes is a horizontal eye movement to switch between the sources of information. Another example is that the controls used when you start and stop driving are a few centimetres from each other near the gear selector.

Above the combined instrument, the driver receives information and alerts from a number of safety systems via the windscreen's head-up display. Information from the car's Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) is integrated in the A-pillars.

These safety elements include the aforementioned Blind Spot warning system, as well as a Collision Warning system with Full Auto Brake and pedestrian detection features that use radar devices mounted behind the car’s grille and a camera behind the rear-view mirror.

Volvo has also previously announced a partnership with Swedish glass manufacturer Orrefors to help develop the intricate crystal center console for the show car. Orrefors was tasked with designing a crystal version of Volvo’s trademark center console floating stack. The crystal panel appears to float above the center console, however it actually rests softly on rubber pads and invisible light sources can alter the crystal's glow in order to match the driver's mood. Despite its creativity and inventiveness, the practicality of using such an instrument in a production car makes it mostly a design exercise, a fact that has not been lost on Volvo.

"The full-size crystal piece in the concept car will not be a production feature. However, it does open up opportunities to use crystal on a smaller scale in the future. We'll have to see how our customers respond," said Mattin.

Volvo S60 Concept handmade Orrefors crystal