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BBC Autos

With XC Coupé, Volvo plants a burly boot in Detroit

About the author

Deputy editor of BBC Autos, Jonathan was formerly the editor of The New York Times' Wheels blog. His automotive writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Details, Surface, Intersection and Design Observer. He has an affinity for the Citroën DS and Toyota pickup trucks of the early 1990s.

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Having brought a muscular, high-riding crossover coupe to the 2014 Detroit auto show, Volvo has stepped up – and over – recent efforts to capture the youth vote.

When Volvo announced in October 2013 that its C30 hatchback, which never found substantial love among North American buyers, would be discontinued after the 2013 model year, it seemed the Swedes were also giving up on young consumers. Stunning but upmarket-oriented concepts such as the 2013 Frankfurt motor show’s Concept Coupe have only reinforced the impression.

The brand staged a correction in Detroit on 13 January, unveiling the Concept XC Coupé. Volvo says the vehicle was “inspired by modern sports equipment”, and it doesn’t take a squint to glean something of a parabolic ski or snowboard’s taut fluidity in the Coupé’s metalwork.

A heavy shoulder crease harks back to the Concept Coupe, but the XC is otherwise forward-facing towards the next XC90 crossover, which TopGear.com reports is slated to bow at the 2015 Paris motor show. As Volvo’s entry in the BMW X5/Mercedes-Benz ML/Audi Q7 sweeps, the XC90 will not be a small machine. Still, it is tempting to think Volvo may spin off a burly little two-door from its Detroit show car.

And if Volvo had any reservations about its design direction, they were duly neutralised at the prestigious EyesOn Design awards on 14 January, where the XC was named Best Concept Car at the show, breaking a recent run of Audi hegemony. That German luxury brand's Allroad Shooting Brake Concept, glinting on the opposite end of the Cobo Center show floor, was no shrinking violet, either. Score one for the Swedes.

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