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Bjorn to run: 6 cars that helped define the 2017 Volvo S90

Never forget your roots. Even though it's now under Chinese ownership, Volvo certainly hasn't.

The 2017 Volvo S90 is coming out swinging.

Aiming right for the likes of the BMW 5 Series, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Audi A6/A7, the S90 is positively loaded with technology. Much of that tech helps Volvo deliver on its promise of a car that's as safe as it is easy on the eyes.

Clearly, this car wasn't built out of thin air. In fact, aspects of this brand new creation can be found in concepts dating back to the turn of the century, when they were nothing more than pie-in-the-sky ideas that would be either too complex or too costly to implement. Heck, if you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, Volvo's been working up to this since 1927.

Below, we've picked out six examples of other Volvo cars that have contributed, either directly or indirectly, to the automaker's latest flagship.

2016+ XC90

Volvo

If you've got eyes, it's pretty easy to notice where the S90's design cues originated. The 2016 XC90 represents Volvo's new era of ownership under Chinese company Geely. No longer relying on previous owner Ford's technology, the XC90 is much different than any forebear.

We're especially fond of the "Thor's Hammer" headlight layout, which will likely end up on every new Volvo from here on out. The XC90 also brought with it a new, quasi-minimalist interior featuring the brand's all-new Sensus touchscreen infotainment system. Simply put, the XC90 is the start of a whole 'nother chapter in the automaker's book.

2008 Costello Prototype

Volvo

Not that anybody would guess, but the Costello actually contains many elements of the S90 that would appear nearly a decade later. Right after getting out from under Ford's umbrella, Volvo's engineers wanted to make the case for creating an all-new platform for its future vehicles.

The result is a Ford-era S80 body resting atop a skunkworked chassis featuring a number of elements that would appear on Volvo's new SPA architecture. Powered by a tuned variant of the automaker's five-cylinder engine, it was compelling enough to get the suits to go along with the idea.

2003 VCC Concept

Volvo

Volvo's Versatility Concept Car brought a few new ideas to the table that would eventually arrive on the 2017 S90. For example, VCC packed both start-stop technology and a small but powerful turbocharged engine, two elements that are featured on Volvo's latest model.

Several design elements made their way to the S90, as well. VCC featured lights arranged along the vertical axis, both up front and out back. The interior put a focus on minimalism, relying on steering wheel and touch-based controls to cut down on interior clutter.

2001 SCC Concept

Volvo

Whereas VCC put the focus on function, the Safety Car Concept...well, you get the idea. Volvo's engineers put a focus on increasing visibility and safety, and it rolled out a great deal of tech that pops up not only in today's S90, but in a wide variety of cars across the industry. Its safety suite included slightly less high-tech variations of blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning.

VCC also packed some futuristic (at the time) creature-comfort technology. The doors would unlock with the touch of a handle, and its taillights flashed under intense braking. The rear seats featured height-adjustable cushions for children, and it even sent various bits of vehicle info to the owner's mobile phone. Today, you can find a whole glut of cars carrying this stuff, Volvos included.

1996-1998 S90

Volvo

If you want to know where the S90 got its name, here it is. The S90 only existed for two model years, but the automaker managed to sell nearly 36,000 examples in that time. The S90 also gave birth to a taxonomic structure that would later expand to include crossovers. Starting with this S90, all sedans would start with an S, wagons with a V (for versatility) and coupes with a C. The XC badge wouldn't arrive until later.

1927-1929 ÖV 4

Volvo

Volvo owes its entire history to this car, as it was the first Volvo ever produced. The name stands for Öppen Vagn 4 cylindrar, which is Swedish for "Open Carriage 4 cylinders." Introduced all the way back in 1927, the car utilized a 28-horsepower, 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine. Built atop a frame of ash and beech, only one color was on offer, and its top speed was a blistering 56 mph.

Sure, today's lawnmowers might be nearly as capable, but without the ÖV 4, this list wouldn't even exist.