Model Retrospective: 2011 Volvo Concept Universe
The second-generation XC90 large luxury SUV in 2014 became the first production Volvo to utilise the company’s clever new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA). But it wasn’t the first vehicle to feature it.
Three years earlier, the vehicle platform that literally laid the foundation for Volvo Cars’ hugely successful range of new-generation 90-series and 60-series vehicles was an invisible, magic ingredient beneath a Shanghai motor show concept.
The 2011 Volvo Concept Universe was a large luxury car that provided a “sneak preview” of the Swedish brand’s next-generation flagship sedan.
A striking exterior formed a four-door coupe profile and included design cues from classic Volvo models – including a stepped bonnet and low-positioned grille and headlights inspired by the PV444 and PV544 introduced in the 1940s.
"Just like fine luxury goods, this design feels handcrafted and durable enough to stand the test of time," said Volvo’s then vice president of design, Peter Horbury. "We will compete with the best with our special kind of Scandinavian Design. It is unmatched in performance and technology, but without superficiality or complication."
Inside, the Concept Universe’s front cabin was driver-oriented, with intuitive controls and a touchscreen that approached the driver’s hand when they reached towards it. The driver could operate everything from their ultra-comfortable seat.
As befitting a large luxury sedan, the Universe offered a comfortably relaxed rear cabin – including even more space than that offered by the company’s existing big sedan, the S80, and another touchscreen for rear passengers.
The interior was moulded into the rear seat to become part of the seating environment, while classic forms, materials and textures were given a twist to create a special contemporary luxury experience.