The XC40 – the compact SUV by Volvo Cars
“The compact SUV designed around you”
Model brand manager
“The XC40 is the first compact SUV from Volvo Cars, and we approached it with a clear aim – understand who the customers would be, how they live and what they want from their car. As with all our cars, we did a lot of research, including 180 hours of in-home interviews with customers in cities including Beijing, Hamburg, London and Los Angeles.
“Our research informed every aspect of the XC40 – it forced us to think in new ways and find solutions to support the customers’ needs. There are many examples, like the ingenious storage solutions. This includes huge door bins and a flexible luggage area, with roomy under-floor storage and a folding floor that doubles as a shopping bag holder. Then there’s our car sharing offer, which came from us understanding how our customers use the latest services and technology and how they might want to share their XC40 with family, friends and colleagues that don’t always have access to a car. One of the things we discovered was that people want an SUV to look and feel like an SUV, so we made sure the XC40 has the commanding presence and high seating position they expect.
“This is a new type of Volvo, yet it remains true to the way we’ve always created our cars – designed around you.”
“A car with an identity all of its own”
Lead exterior designer
“This is a car with a strong character. From day one I referred to it as the ‘Tough Little Robot’. It’s about its stance, surfacing and its sense of playfulness. Of course there are authentic SUV elements such as the proud front grille, raised ground clearance and plastic cladding, yet the exterior design of the XC40 creates an identity all of its own.
“Contemporary product design was a big influence on how we designed the car – looking at the way that lines and surfaces are used in the best consumer electronics and furniture designs. You can see that kind of logical, uncomplicated design in the XC40. For the user it sends out a clear message of someone who’s comfortable with themselves and appreciates a well-designed product that really works.”
Beatrice Simonsson (left) and Conny Blommé (right)
“Storage that’s outside the box”
Group design leader, tunnel console
“The XC40 is about smart solutions – finding ways to make people’s busy lives less complicated. When we did our research we discovered just how much stuff people carry around with them in their cars. One of them even kept a barbecue permanently in their trunk. That led us to create a range of storage features to address the differing needs of our customers.
“The storage bin under the front centre armrest, for instance, is large enough to hold a small handbag, or even a full-size tissue box. And there’s a space beneath the centre touch screen where a mobile phone can be stored and wirelessly charged, which reduces clutter and makes it easy to reach when you need it. You are used to having the phone hidden from view in your car. We wanted to make sure the phone is in sight, and has wireless charging, because that’s more useful.
“We also worked closely with the audio team, who created a new type of audio speaker that’s mounted behind the dashboard. This frees up space for front door pockets that are each large enough to fit a laptop or a handbag, for example. I’d say we thought ‘outside the box’ with this car. Sometimes that’s the only way you can solve a problem.”
“Design that works”
Senior interior design manager
“The best Scandinavian design is often about solving a complex problem in a way that makes things look easy. The interior design of the XC40 is a good example. There are some really ingenious solutions, such as the way the top of the door panel wraps around to form the doorpull and side armrest. It might seem simple but it was a challenge to achieve it. It also required some creative thinking to craft air vents that fit harmoniously alongside our centre touch screen, yet which are effective and easy to use. The end result is something that is beautiful yet functional. That’s good Scandinavian design. Design that works.”
Andreas Ropel (left) and Elsa Eugensson (right)
Attribute leader, digital user experience
“I created my own smart house. Everything is connected. The lights, doors, heating. I control it all from an app on my phone, or even using Siri. Smart technology is useful and intuitive – it supports you without overwhelming you. In the XC40 you can control most things through the centre touch screen, or through voice control. Customers are now expecting their car to offer the same kind of functionality they get with all their consumer electronic devices. That’s why technology in the XC40 is as easy to use as your phone.
“Being smart also means offering the right features – not too many, or too few. The XC40 is available with the things that people want, such as enhanced connectivity via wi-fi, Bluetooth, Spotify and seamless smartphone integration. Our top-of-the-range Harman Kardon Premium Sound audio system was developed with the renowned audio brand. It really brings your favourite music to life.”
“Confident in the city"
System project leader, vehicle dynamics and active safety functions
“This car is all about feeling confident in the city. Part of that comes from practical things, such as the high seating position and agile handling. We’ve also developed features that support you, such as Pilot Assist. This makes driving in heavy traffic more relaxing because the car helps you to maintain a set speed and distance from the car in front and gently helps to adjust the steering to keep the car within its lane.
“We also have the 360˚ Camera, which helps simplify parking by giving you a birds-eye view of your car and its surroundings. And, as you’d expect of an SUV, all-wheel drive is available to give that real sense of control when you need it. This is a car that inspires confidence whatever the road or situation.”
Erik Åleby, colour and materials designer, talks about how the new XC40 showcases Volvo Cars at its most daring and expressive, and how the beautiful, sustainable materials in its cabin reflect contemporary Scandinavian design.
In the driving seat
Volvo Cars senior vice president of design, Robin Page, reveals how minimalist Scandinavian design and Swedish craftsmanship combine in the new S60. The result, he says, is a luxurious interior that’s been designed to put an emphasis on driving.
Our window to the world
Throughout history, the human eye has meant different things to different cultures. In ancient Egypt it was worshipped as a powerful symbol of good health and protection, during the Renaissance it represented vision and clarity, whereas the eye that graces today’s American dollar bill is designed to depict guidance and reassurance. But what about for those of us who worship at the altar of the automobile? What do our eyes mean to our enjoyment of our cars and can they really hold the key to a better life on the road?