Interior Design

Interior Design  - Overview - Volvo S40

While the exterior of the Volvo S40 could be described as evolutionary from the S60 and S80, the interior represents nothing less than a revolution in car design. Its focal point is an ultra-thin central instrument stack, which appears to be free-floating. This is a world first for the automotive sector and was previewed on the Volvo VCC (Versatility Concept Car) at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show. It is a reflection of Volvo's Scandinavian design heritage and its commitment to premium quality.

"The super-slim format is the ultimate icon of the car and a revolution in itself," says its chief designer, Guy Burgoyne.

The inspiration for the interior came from outside the car world. "If you want to be innovative, there is little point looking at what the competition is doing," explains Steve Mattin, Volvo's Design Director. "It is far more valuable to look at what they're not doing."

Volvo's design teams were influenced instead by the Scandinavian design tradition of clean surfaces and uncluttered lines. They drew inspiration, for example, from the elegant simplicity of the classic compression-moulded Series 7 chair, designed by the world-famous Arne Jacobsen.

Trends in high-tech electrical equipment, such as cameras, audio systems and computers, were also studied. Notes were taken on how the designers use and combine new materials so that they form part of the user-experience. These disparate influences - classic Scandinavian style and high-tech innovation - were combined to create a radically different interior concept.

The interior is built up of several visual layers. The first is an edge that flows around the base of the windscreen and along the door frames, trimming the entire interior. This provides occupants with the impression that they are safely ensconced in a cocoon.

The second layer is the primary fascia, which is minimalist. The air vents and secondary controls are positioned in individual islands, while the main instruments are grouped in two round gauges, surrounded by contrasting metal bezels. The choice of fascia finish is also significant - Volvo has eschewed the traditional leather look in favour of a new texture that conveys a sense of cutting-edge technical innovation.

The ultra-thin central instrument stack forms the uppermost layer. Boasting a prominent position in the centre of the car, it fulfils the role of a remote control unit in a contemporary home entertainment system. Constructing such a novel feature was no easy task: "It required considerable ingenuity and hard work to find a technical solution for this super-slim format," explains Burgoyne. But no-one will doubt that the hard work has paid dividends. The slim design creates a feeling of luxurious space and the effect is enhanced by 'theatre style' illumination, which discreetly draws attention to the unit.

The centre stack has a Bauxite grey metallic finish in S models, aluminium in SE models, while SE LUX models have Nordic Light Oak Trim. R-DESIGN Sport and R-DESIGN SE Sport models have the unique R-DESIGN Deco Aluminium finish.

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