Volvo Concept Coupe revitalizes a classic

Volvo showed off its latest design work at the Frankfurt auto show with the Concept Coupe, a very stylish car featuring a hybrid drivetrain.

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Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
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Watch this: Volvo Concept C coupe

FRANKFURT -- Taking cues from the classic P1800, Volvo's Concept Coupe shows off a new design direction for the Scandinavian automaker. This fine-looking coupe features a powerful hybrid drivetrain along with a new infotainment interface.

As with other concepts, though, we wish Volvo would actually go into production with it.

Making the front end look like a torpedo, a straight contour line runs from doors to nose. The curvature of the front fenders echoes classics such as the Jaguar E-type, BMW Z-8, and Aston Martin models. In other words, all that is good in automotive design.

The broad grille is classic Volvo, while LED headlights are more of a concept-car touch. The roofline, topped in glass, comes up just enough for the front seats, then drops back in a smooth flow to the minimal C-pillars. Large wheels accentuate the body lines.

The Concept Coupe is a thing of beauty, and Volvo says it is the first of three new concept cars. Possibly that means Volvo is working on a new coupe sports car.

Concept Coupe shows new Volvo styling (pictures)

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Volvo points out in a press release that the Concept Coupe also shows what the company can do with its Scalable Product Architecture, a new platform it developed in-house which will be the basis for all future Volvo models.

The cabin also shows off some new thinking from Volvo. Echoing past concept sedans that led up to the S60, the Concept Coupe has a crystal shift knob. More intriguing is the large, portrait format touchscreen in the center dashboard. It looks a bit like the larger 17 inch screen in the Tesla Model S.

Volvo has also spent the last decade developing hybrid drivetrains, although it has yet to release one in a production car. The Concept Coupe makes use of this research with a turbocharged and supercharged 2-liter engine under the hood, combined with an electric motor. Volvo says that drivetrain is good for 400 horsepower.

And although there are no indications of this capability in the stand at the auto show, the concept is supposed to be designed for autonomous driving. It would build on Volvo safety technologies, such as City Safety to become a self-driving car.

With the Concept Coupe, Volvo has managed to come up with a very desirable car, and most of its components look production-ready. The question remains, will the public be ready for a Volvo sports car?