Design concept

Design concept  - Overview - Volvo XC70

The Volvo XC70 is the sportiest of all the XC models and the most capable off-road, so it has to look the part. Its design is tough, rugged and sporty. 'But we have also tried to make the design of the all-new XC70 more elegant and premium,' says Volvo Cars design director Steve Mattin. 'So it's more appropriate than ever for a luxurious night out in the city.

'It's a car with two characters - sporty and adventurous on the one hand, refined and premium on the other. Our design goal was to show these two appealing sides to its personality.'

The Volvo XC70 model also represents Scandinavian design at its best. Every little detail has been designed with 100 per cent focus on clean lines and intelligent functionality.

Background to the design

Volvo invented the premium estate when the PV445 was launched in 1953 - a conventional saloon that could double as a capacious van.

Volvo also pioneered the crossover estate concept when the first V70 Cross Country was launched in 1996. Here was a car that had all the comfort and load-carrying ability of a Volvo estate together with real off-road credibility. The Cross Country - which became known as the XC - was not just a toughened wagon; it had more genuine off-road ability than many SUVs. The second-generation Volvo XC70, launched in 1999, refined the concept. Today, the Volvo XC70 sits in a market by itself. No other estate offers the same blend of premium features, comfort and rugged off-road skills. It is now Volvo's most off-road-orientated vehicle, despite the arrival of the XC90. Although the Volvo XC90 has clear mud-and-rocks ability, it is used almost exclusively on-road. Drivers of the Volvo XC70, by comparison, genuinely spend a good deal of their time off the beaten track, often pursuing sporting hobbies such as skiing, mountain biking, surfing, fishing or sailing.

'It's not an SUV'

The Volvo XC70 looks rugged. But it does not look like an SUV. 'The fact that it's not an SUV - yet can offer SUV-like skills - makes it very attractive to many people,' says Tomas Ahlborg, project director. 'Many people just don't want the bulk or stigma of an SUV. They want a conventional car. But one that can do the unconventional.

'The Volvo XC70 is seen as more environmentally friendly, more fun to drive. Lots of our XC70 customers say they would never buy an SUV. But they want all the features of an SUV - such as go-anywhere ability and versatility - that make it possible for them to carry out their hobbies and interests.'

'Like a rally car'

'When we started work we came up with a vision for the car,' says Stefan Jansson, responsible for exterior design. 'Imagine a normal car driving on the road. Behind, in your rear-view mirror, you see a trail of dust. Beside you, off the road, you are being overtaken by an XC70. That was the image we created.'

Jansson said he was inspired by rally cars. 'Rally cars are like normal cars but tougher and sportier. That sums up the XC70 too. It's a car that's meant to go on all types of roads and tracks but can drive at normal speed. It's a smaller, lower, faster SUV but with at least as much practicality and versatility.'

Elegant yet rugged design

The Volvo XC70 has less hard plastic protective cladding than the outgoing model. At the front, the characteristic tough plastic nose has been abandoned and replaced with a new, unique, softer nose, mostly body-coloured. The headlamps and grille have grown and now have the same trapezoidal shape that was first seen on the XC60 Concept in Detroit in early 2007.

'The dark-coloured plastic panels at the bottom are less obvious than on the outgoing model,' says design director Steve Mattin. 'But as with exclusive outdoor clothing, the protection is placed exactly where it needs to be to withstand the rough stuff.'

In order to retain the rugged stance, the plastic cladding at the corners has been emphasised around the front fog lamps, which are now more clearly pronounced. 'Those corner pads - nicknamed the boxing gloves - are distinctive and practical,' says Stefan Jansson. 'The protection is exactly where you need it - on the front corners.'

At the rear, the corners are also clad in tough plastic, protecting against rocks and trees. The wheel arches are also finished in tough plastic.

The shape of the front air intakes is inspired by a jet engine's front profile. These lines are echoed around the red reflectors at the rear, which look like the extractors on a jet engine.

The chromed protective skid-plate at the front has been widened and integrated to take on a spoiler-like shape. 'It looks like a rally car sump guard and fulfils exactly the same role - to protect the engine and underside of the front of the car,' says Jansson. A chromed skid-plate also protects the tail.

The large and distinctive dark-coloured protective plastic panels on the outgoing XC70 have mostly been replaced with painted surfaces. In combination with the all-new, 'nose down' stance, this gives the latest XC70 a more elegant and luxurious appearance.

'The result is a more premium-looking vehicle but one that has just as much practical body protection as the outgoing XC70,' says designer Jansson.

A sportier design

'We worked hard on getting the stance of the car just right. This is a sports estate - fun to drive and aimed at a sports-minded customer base - so we wanted to give the car more of a sporty wedge, that feeling of movement even when it's stationary. We lifted the rear of the car a little. That climbing waistline gives a forward-leaning, dynamic stance.'

A more reclined windscreen adds to the sporty feel, and so do the blacked-out roof pillars and the more steeply raked upper tailgate. The outgoing Volvo XC70 had a flat tailgate but the all-new model has a distinctive kink. 'It looks sportier but does not compromise load-carrying or load access one single bit,' says Stefan Jansson. Load-carrying space is actually bigger, by 55 litres, and boot access is better than on the outgoing XC70. This is partly because the upright tail-lights have moved from the rear pillars to the tailgate, so the opening is bigger than ever. The tailgate glass is also deeper at the sides, improving rearward visibility. A powered tailgate - for both lift and closing - is standard for extra convenience on the SE Lux and an option on the other models. The extended XC roof rails are standard, further improving potential carrying capacity.

At the rear, the Volvo name on the tailgate has more pronounced lettering, with wider spacing than before - a new feature first shown on the XC60 Concept in Detroit in January 2007.

All the rear lights above the waistline - including the high-mounted third brake light - are LED lights, which are brighter and react faster than conventional tail-lights. If the load is so large that the driver is forced to drive with the tailgate slightly open, the lower lights on the body sides become supplementary brake lights.

Externally, the Volvo XC70 is higher than the V70 (by 57mm), longer (by 15mm) and has a different grille, special fog lamps and comprehensive protective cladding. The steel body panels, however, are the same, except for the front wings, and the glazing is also shared.

Although the Volvo XC70 is more practical and stylish than ever, it is still an extreme vehicle - one that looks visually arresting and has a clear function and role. 'The worst thing would be if no-one had any emotions about it,' says technical project leader Karl-Johan Ekman.

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