The Mercedes CLS started a mini design revolution by introducing the idea of a four-door coupe with mass appeal. It's sales success has led to a raft of machines such as the VW CC, Audi A5, even the Porsche Panamera and Aston Rapide could draw their lineage from this car.
The latest machine to look in this direction is Concept You from Volvo, which is also an evolution of the previous Concept Universe, both of which are intended to give an insight into future Volvos and gauge public reaction to the new design language.
"Concept You gives a good indication of what you can expect from our next large sedan. The blend of Scandinavian design, exquisite craftsmanship and intuitive technology will appeal to luxury car buyers all over the world," said Stefan Jacoby, Volvo President.
The company collected feedback on Concept Universe, through surveys and social media. "The most valuable input was used in the development of Concept You. This car features a more daring, coupe-like profile than the Concept Universe, while the front moves towards a more classic Volvo look," explained Peter Horbury, Vice President Design at Volvo.
He added, "The fastback profile mirrors a strong trend among European buyers. With growing signs the Chinese are moving rapidly in the same direction, our main aim is to explore how daring our next large sedan should be in order to be a global success. We are very eager to hear what people think about the Concept You."
"The Concept You explores new territories in our search for the ultimate intuitive car that makes the owners manual a thing of the past. Smart phones and smart pads have brought mobile infotainment into a new era. Here, we use a number of touchscreens to replace buttons and controls in order to make the driver totally connected, totally in control. The technology also helps us to create a refreshingly uncluttered interior," explained Horbury.
The Concept You control center consists of four main areas; a digital Driver Information Monitor (DIM), a head-up display on the windshield, a touchscreen in the upper part of the center console and a touchscreen between the two rear seats. The wood/leather steering wheel has aluminum and glass paddles with integrated touchscreens.
The touchscreen in the upper part of the console remains in sleep mode until the driver looks at it. A hidden infrared camera registers eye movements and information is displayed on the screen.
Another sensor registers hand movements and triggers the Infotainment system's control mode. The possibilities vary depending on whether the screen is approached by the driver or the front passenger.
"Certain functions, such as surfing the web, are only accessible from the passenger side while the car is rolling. The technology knows who is the operator and adapts itself automatically," said Horbury.
The driver can "flip" data from the central touchscreen to the head-up display and can exchange data with the rear passengers. A light guide in the free-floating console indicates file transfer.
The Infotainment system also integrates a high-end sound system from Alpine. It features the unique "FreshAir" subwoofer - technology not yet released that uses the air outside the car to create the ultimate listening experience.
The sound system consists of small, optimized units that cut weight while still producing a better sound than today's systems.
The interior is driver-orientated at the front and comfortably relaxed in the rear. The dark color scheme in the front seats fades towards the rear until it fully transforms into a light rear seating area. The interior molds into the rear seat and becomes part of the seating environment.
Volvo partnered with several other famous brands in order to create a genuine feeling of luxury with the right Scandinavian touch.
The four individual seats blend chrome-free leather from Bridge of Weir with Dinamica ecological suede. The off-black front seats have suede in the centre to create a grippy surface. The soft beige rear seats are designed for comfort with leather in the center and suede on the sides.
The Concept You design also integrates the luxurious qualities of a tailor made suit into the car. The back of the front seats and the door panels feature exclusive Italian fabric and designs from Swedish fashion house Oscar Jacobson.
The designers have also been generous with large, handcrafted pieces of walnut accompanied by leather panels, Dinamica suede roof lining and carefully chosen aluminum details.
The wooden floor, which echoes Scandinavian homes, is covered with a specially designed hand-tufted carpet from Swedish brand Kasthall. Just like the rest of the interior, it fades from dark in the front to light in the rear. The front texture has a sporty firmness, while the rear part of the carpet is luxuriously soft.
The Concept You is finished in a light blue, liquid metal paint from DuPont. The brakes were developed by Volvo racing specialists, Polestar.
The car's fastback silhouette is emphasised by the 21" polished aluminum wheels with a twisted twin-spoke design and 275/30 R21 Pirelli tires.
Up front, the Concept You grille has a more classic appearance than the Concept Universe.
"The eternal beauty of Georg Jensen design is what we are aiming for with the whole concept car. Just like the finest luxury goods, this design should feel handcrafted and durable enough to stand the test of time," said Peter Horbury.