Design

Adventurous by design

Getting into the great outdoors is built into the Swedish DNA, says Volvo Cars’ Senior Vice President of Design, Robin Page. He discusses the perfect car to take you there – the new Volvo V60 Cross Country

WORDS: NATHANIEL HANDY

When asked what Cross Country means to him, Robin Page, Senior Vice President of Design, sums it up: “It’s about escapism. At the weekend, you see everyone, especially in Sweden, which is very outdoorsy, disappearing off to the countryside, the seaside, the forest.”

For Robin, designing the new V60 Cross Country was about expressing and enabling this lifestyle. “What really got us excited when we designed this car was looking at the type of high-end active equipment that people use, and that is increasingly becoming high fashion. We wanted to capture that here.”

Honesty is the bedrock for this car, believes Robin. “It’s about how it fits into your life. And, for me, creating things that actually enhance peoples’ lives and connect with how they live is more interesting than designing a sports car that’s never used as a sports car.”

Bold yet elegant, rugged yet dynamic – the new V60 Cross Country is a car with a character like no other. “It has a unique presence,” says Robin. “It’s the physical expression of the car’s abilities, and of the active lives led by the people who will buy it.”

Much like high-end sports equipment, the goal with the V60 Cross Country was to deliver extra protection, grip and versatility where it’s needed, while maintaining a sleek sense of style. High ground clearance helps to protect the car’s undersides on rough or bumpy surfaces, for example, and also gives a commanding, confident stance.

“Our first approach was to raise the car 60mm to give an overall ground clearance of 206mm,” explains Robin. To maintain a solid, grounded presence with the increased height, Volvo Cars’ designers also upped the wheel size and track width. “We have 19-inch, but also 20-inch wheels,” says Page. “This creates a greater stance.”

Robin is especially keen to point out the unique front grille insert, which features vertical bars with the same characteristic ‘studded’ elements as the larger V90 Cross Country. “It’s a feature that hints at the studs you get on snow tyres and encapsulates the car’s bold, rugged character.”

Opening the back door, a stainless steel rear scuff plate offers added protection when loading and unloading. “It’s all about that escape, getting into the country with friends and family,” says Robin. “Whether it’s packing your food, your clothes, maybe packing surfing or kayaking equipment into the back, this is a space that is quick and easy to load and unload.” It is a luggage area built for the kinds of sports and locations where you might get wet or muddy. And this class-leading 529-litre space (up to the top of the rear seatback) is robust enough to accommodate everything you need.

Even the car’s details evoke the great outdoors. “Scandinavian design is all about the beauty of simplicity,” says Page. “It is very close to nature and draws on nature’s innate elegance. Take the Driftwood interior trim. This relates directly to the long Swedish coastline and the pared back beauty of simple, naturally formed objects.”

The notions to explore and escape may be in the DNA of the V60 Cross Country, yet it retains an aura of modern Swedish luxury synonymous with a new Volvo car.

“Cross Country cars help you to do your thing, whatever that may be, in comfort and confidence,” says Robin. He likens the V60 Cross Country to a high-tech outdoors jacket that is equally at home in the wilderness or on the high street. “This is a car that excels everywhere,” he says.