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Old is apparently the new new at Volvo. Its Concept Universe, unveiled at the Shanghai motor show today by the now Chinese-owned company, ‘honours the beautiful lines of classic Volvo models’. It also ‘reflects the serenity in light when the sun is rising or setting’, according to exterior designer Jonathon Disley.
Design hooey aside, it’s an interesting-looking car, a first preview of a new design language for Volvo’s luxury sedan.

See more pics of the Volvo Concept Universe

On his inspiration, Disley says: ‘Classic models were soft and voluptuous but also offered a sense of protection.’

The Universe is certainly soft, but we’d say it’s pleasingly bulbous rather than voluptuous. You can definitely see the classic inspiration, though. The set-back bonnet bulge has been half-inched from the late-50s PV range and the grille’s a modernised version of a 1960s 1800 (that’s the one Roger Moore drove in The Saint). The rest - namely saggy Audi rear lights and a very Jaguar-like profile - is more par for the exec-car course.
Inside, it’s typically concepty and exciting. Massive slabs of wood on the doors curve into the centre console, which juts through the cabin to the split rear seats, where an iPad-like thing dangles for back-seat passengers.

Touchscreen monitors replace buttons, and a dash-mounted screen erupts automatically when the driver reaches for it. And in the most obvious Chinese touch, there’s blue and white porcelain adorning the gear-shift.
No word on any chassis and engine platform, which are yet to be finalised.
After Shanghai, the Concept Universe is getting trawled around Europe and America to see how would-be buyers take to the design. How do you think they’ll react?  

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