Report: Volvo to Amp Up Design, Cut Cylinder Count in Future Models

If Volvo is to be believed, giant engines and luxury cars do not have to go hand-in-hand: the automaker is reportedly working on downsized engines and hybrid integration as it also finishes its new design language for future models.

The fact that Volvo has been working on a hybrid isn’t a secret at all--we know that the V60 diesel hybrid wagon, which promises both all-wheel drive and excellent gas mileage, is on its way. That diesel plug-in hybrid architecture, which will debut at next month’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, promises an EPA rating of 123 miles per gallon, an EV-only range of about 30 miles and--get this--440 pound-feet of torque.

Ideas like this have a future at Volvo, according to Volvo Car Corporation CEO Stefan Jacoby. Jacoby told Automotive News at a recent press briefing in California that the automaker’s future isn’t hinging on luxury cars with ultra-powerful motors, rather a motoring experience governed by advanced technology and engaging design. One note: Jacoby also promised that Volvo will make sure this technology isn’t too active, saying that the company wants to reduce active technology controls to keep humans involved in the driving experience.

Underpinning these cars and ideas is a new architecture called the Scalable Platform Architecture, which should underpin cars like the S60 and XC90 and reduce weight in each model by at least 320 pounds. Keep in mind that Volvo will reportedly kill its five- and six-cylinder engines in favor of new four-cylinder engines debuting in 2013. This move means weight could further be reduced and fuel economy could continue to go up, while keeping horsepower figures somewhere 150 and 300, depending on the model. SPA’s first model will be the 2015 Volvo XC90, which should debut some time in 2014.

Topping it all off? A fresh design language, which promises to show what Volvo calls “more luxurious proportions” while still keeping its signature design feature: the car’s shoulders that first premiered on the Environmental Concept Car in the early 1990’s. In the end the company wants to create cars that are sleek, environmentally friendly, and immediately recognizable as Volvos. We don’t blame it.

Sources: Automotive News (sub. required), Los Angeles Times

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