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Volvo’s Concept XC Coupe was inspired by Swedish love of outdoor activities

Holy crap, is that a Volvo? Yep, that sensuously styled crossover is the Volvo Concept XC Coupe and its making its formal debut in Detroit next week. This impressive car is the second of three new concept cars that will show off Volvo’s new design language. And if we are lucky, it might just give us a hint of what the new XC90 will look like.

First-look video

Volvo’s new head designer, Thomas Ingelath, claims that the new design language is inspired by the Swedish love of outdoor activities: “The Volvo Concept XC Coupé is perfectly in tune with this active lifestyle. Its capability and protection is cleverly integrated into the sophisticated looks. Concept XC Coupé is ready and willing to bring you into the adventure zone and back.”

Now this is all advertising and design twaddle, but don’t hold it against Volvo; designers are required – by law – not to make any sense what so ever. What is important is that, along with the Volvo Concept Coupe, the XC marks a major step forward for Volvo design.

The last generation of Volvo cars is surprisingly good looking. The S60 in particular stands out among its German rivals, but modern Volvos still lack flair. In particular, the now decade old XC90 hardly stands out among the press of crossovers. But the XC Coupe is a different matter.

The design clearly borrows from the late C30 hatchback, but there is more there. The aggressively styled head and taillights show off much more of a personality than previous Volvos. And the big rims push the car more towards young and cool than the soccer mom crowd typically associated with Volvo.

That being said, this car is Swedish so you would be hard pressed to find anything more safely constructed than maybe the NORAD command bunker buried under Cheyenne Mountain. In fact, the design language is built around Volvo’s newer safer Scalable Product Architecture.

Ingelath says: “Concept XC Coupé also shows how clever engineering makes it possible for us to reinforce our world-leading safety without compromising design, size or weight. Thanks to the extensive use of high-strength boron steel and structures with new, ingenious decoupling, we can make SPA cars more compact and safer at the same time.”

Translated from designer to human this means that Volvo will likely be moving towards using only a single scalable platform for all of its vehicles. And that the design language is built to fit what that platform has to offer. This is a good strategy for a smaller automaker, as it allows Volvo to focus its resources rather than distribute them.

Besides, it’s hard to argue with the looks of the XC Coupe. Unlike most crossovers, it doesn’t look like an SUV smashed in a crusher – or a car on stilts. Instead, the lines make this comparatively large vehicle look sleek and refined, sort of like what I imagine the Porsche Cayenne looked like in the designer’s head.

Now we can only hope that these looks inform a car that we can actually get our greedy little hands on, and that it comes with the amazing 400-horsepower hybrid drivetrain that Volvo has developed.

We will have more details after the car’s official debut next week at Detroit. So be sure to check back.