The key elements of a new design language for Volvo were unveiled last month in a preview for journalists in Gothenburg, Sweden, the company's hometown. The Volvo Concept Coupé, first of three design studies to demonstrate the new theme, is scheduled to make its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, which opens Tuesday for two days of press previews.
Though Volvo has headquarters in Gothenburg, it has been owned by Geely of China since 2010. In recent years Volvo's designs seem to have been on an erratic course, and the company has juggled design directors.
Last year, a Volkswagen Group veteran, Thomas Ingenlath, was named senior vice president for design, and the Concept Coupé is his first statement. It is also the first vehicle to be shown that is based on a design discipline the company calls Scalable Product Architecture. Like many smaller automakers, Volvo is establishing a shared system for all its vehicles, from crossovers to sports models, with modular combinations of chassis and engines.
In a statement, Mr. Ingenlath compared the Concept Coupé to a lion at rest, demonstrating "the confident stance, the proportions and the most prominent design signatures" of the scalable design vocabulary. The first production vehicle to reflect the new look will be the XC90 crossover, which is to be revealed next year.
"The new Volvo Concept Coupé reveals how we could shape our cars from now on," Mr. Ingenlath said. "We add emotional value to the Volvo brand with the calm, confident beauty that is the hallmark of Scandinavian design."
The new look includes a set of lamp graphics with T-shape running lights and taillights to match. But the grille, with Volvo's "iron" mark -- the alchemist's circle with arrow -- remains generic. The rear roof pillar area echoes Volvo's P1800 sports car of the 1960s. The rear end is a crisp angular form with a faint hint of a tailfin.
Designers speak of the importance of proportions, and none is more important than axle to cowl ratio, essentially the distance from the front wheel to the steering wheel. In the new Volvo layout, the axle-to-cowl extends the apparent length of the hood, making the Concept Coupé more flowing and graceful than Volvos of recent memory.
The car also makes gestures to the wider idea of Scandinavian design. The gearshift handle, for instance, employs crystal glass.
The Concept Coupé is fitted with a hybrid powertrain. The gasoline engine is a 2-liter 4-cylinder with a supercharger and a turbocharger. Total output, including an electric motor driving the rear wheels, is about 400 horsepower, Volvo says.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.