Volvo Concept Coupé: The Reincarnation of the P1800?

Calling something the “next generation P1800” is no small boast.  The original Volvo P1800 that ran for twelve years from 1961 to 1973 is easily the most iconic (and beautiful) Volvo ever produced.  The spy car of choice for Roger Moore’s character Simon Templar in The Saint, the P1800 combined power, looks and a grace never before seen from the Swedish carmaker.

Volvo P1800

Volvo is looking to rekindle some of those same feelings with the new Volvo Concept Coupé.  At first blush, it certainly has the same proportions as the P1800 and the same general feel.  But, is it good enough to be a P1800 for the next generation?

From the early 2000s on, there was a trend among concept cars to bring back old models in the name of being “retro”.  Thankfully, Volvo didn’t go that route for the Concept Coupé.  While it is inspired by the P1800, the Concept Coupé is well and truly a modern car with a design that hints toward future Volvo models.


Volvo Senior Vice President of Design Thomas Ingenlath described the Concept Coupé has having a “calm, confident beauty that is the hallmark of Scandinavian design.”  He’s not wrong.  The most striking feature of the Volvo Concept Coupé has to be the lights, front and rear.

The sideways T-shaped headlights are stunning.  Pointing to the center of the grille, they draw your eye quite successfully to the Volvo badge.  A similar effect is achieved on the car’s rear with the C-shaped taillights nicely framing the trunk lid and the word “Volvo” emblazoned on it.  It’s like Sesame Street.  “Volvo Concept Coupé: Brought to you by the letters C and T.”


Anyway… Everything on the Volvo Concept Coupé is so well thought out that its seems almost possible that this car could very well be produced.  Like with all of the best concepts, there is an air of plausibility with the Concept Coupé… even down to the interior (apart from one very sparkly feature).

Inside, the car is awash with leather, aged wood and thick, rich carpets.  But, it has to be the cut crystal gearshift lever that is the focus.  (Yep, that’s the sparkly feature I was referring to.)  Aston Martin’s crystal ECU key has nothing on the Concept Coupé’s handmade shift knob.


When you mention that a car has a crystal gearshift smack dab in the middle of the cabin, you would expect the rest to be gaudy and gauche.  Not the case here.  Volvo has used their typical Scandinavian design restraint to create what can only be described as a nearly perfect interior.  Thanks to a huge portrait layout touch screen interface to handle the lion’s share of functions, Volvo has nixed most of the physical buttons, creating a smooth, clean and ergonomically-pleasing design inside.  Not a bad place to be really.

With hybrid being the current byword in automotive development, Volvo powered the Concept Coupé with a 2.0 liter four-cylinder gas Drive-E engine (which boasts both a turbo and a supercharger) sharing drive duties with an electric motor.  With the Drive-E gas burner driving the front wheels and the electric motor driving the rear wheels, the Volvo Concept Coupé generates an impressive 400 horse and 443 pound-feet of torque.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.


While the Volvo Concept Coupé is, just that, a concept, some of its styling cues will make it onto the next-gen XC90 crossover due out in 2014.  For the rest of the info on the Volvo Concept Coupé, check out the press release below.  And, there are 40 photos in the gallery, so you’re welcome.

Press Release

Volvo Concept Coupe Press Release

The Volvo Concept Coupé – The Next Generation P1800


Inspired by contemporary, progressive Scandinavian lifestyle and design as well as iconic elements from the past, the elegant new Volvo Concept Coupé is the first of a series of three concept cars that reveal the design possibilities created by the company’s new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA).
After a more than a year of rising expectations, the first design by the new Senior Vice President of Design, Thomas Ingenlath, showcases how design builds emotion into the Volvo brand and points toward the next generation of Volvo models, starting with the forthcoming XC90 in 2014.
“The Volvo Concept Coupé is no futuristic dream car. It is designed to demonstrate the capability of our new architecture: the confident stance, the proportions and the most prominent design signatures. Even though the all-new XC90 is an entirely different type of car, you will recognize the connection instantly when it is revealed next year,” said Ingenlath.
Developed in-house for Volvo Cars only, the Scalable Product Architecture liberates Volvo’s designers and engineers from the limitations of previous cross-brand platforms.
“The new Volvo Concept Coupé reveals how we could shape our cars from now on. Free from the superficial surface excitement of other car brands, we add emotional value to the Volvo brand with the calm, confident beauty that is the hallmark of Scandinavian design,” says Thomas Ingenlath.
Powerful visual impact
The visual impact of the new proportions is most powerful when viewing the Volvo Concept Coupé from the side. The distance between the dashboard and the front axle is extended and the greenhouse has been moved slightly rearwards.
A low hood, roof, and the five-spoke, 21-inch wheels also contribute to the impression of an elegant Gran Tourer oozing effortless power. The confident stance is emphasized by a beltline that spans an elegant bow along the whole car.
“Think about the powerful calmness of a lion. He doesn’t have to prowl to radiate respect.  Even lying down he shows very clearly what he is capable of,” smiles Ingenlath.
New T-shaped Daytime Running Lights
The face of the Volvo Concept Coupé is characterized by a new topography on the hood and the ‘floating’ grille, flanked by headlights featuring new T-shaped daytime running lights guides. Just like the rear light signature, the daytime running lights are distinctive elements in the new design direction of Volvo Cars.
“The face is new, but it also carries more than 85 years of Volvo heritage with great pride. We are still working with the final interpretation of the grille and the iron mark and this will be revealed together with the XC90 next year,” said Ingenlath.
Echoes the iconic P1800
The Concept Coupé also features elements that echo the design of the Volvo P1800 from the 1960s.
“It is a car designer’s duty to reflect and incorporate design signatures that are vital parts of the company’s heritage. The P1800 is an iconic Volvo, renowned for its beautiful forms and detailing.
However, using elements from the P1800 exterior and interior has nothing to do with being retro. We are using these subtle links to a glorious past to create a future where sheer beauty becomes a recognized part of Volvo’s identity. That journey starts with Concept Coupé,” said Ingenlath.
Sparkling crystal gear-leaver
The blue-grey exterior is echoed on the inside of the Volvo Concept Coupé. Refined, handcrafted elements such as the leather instrument panel, inlays made of naturally aged wood and the dark blue woven carpets are blended with beautifully machined metal details.”
“To me, handcrafted crystal is one of the finest examples of high-quality Scandinavian design and I love the idea of bringing it into the car. The prominent position of the gear-leaver is the perfect place for this sparkling sensation,” said Robin Page, Design Director Interior at Volvo Car Group. He adds: “The experience inside Concept Coupé is an excellent example of how we will make Volvo customers feel truly special.”
Large portrait touch-screen
The concept car also includes a totally new approach to Volvo Cars’ human-centric user experience. A large portrait touch-screen in the center console interacts with an adaptive digital display and head-up display in front of the driver.
“This is a natural integration of user interfaces in our new car generation. Interaction with pleasure but without distraction is the key. We bring connectivity into our cars to make them both more enjoyable and safe,” explains Ingenlath.
The Scalable Product Architecture is also being prepared for completely autonomous driving. The first features with autonomous steering to avoid accidents and make driving more comfortable will be introduced in 2014 – and Volvo Cars’ aim is to have cars with fully autonomous technology out on the roads before 2020.
Gasoline plug-in hybrid – powerful and efficient
The gasoline plug-in hybrid driveline in the Volvo Concept Coupé reflects Volvo Cars’ strategy to use electrification to create the most powerful versions in the new four-cylinder Drive-E engine family. This will take power figures up into V8 territory.
The concept car features a two-liter high-performance Drive-E gasoline engine with a supercharger and turbo. The petrol engine is teamed with an electric motor on the rear axle. This gives Volvo Concept Coupé a total output of around 400 hp and over 440 lb.-ft. of torque.

Author: Nick Glasnovich

Founder & Executive Editor of

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  1. The Volvo concept coupe sure looks like a nice car, but I can’t see any relation with the P1800. You say Volvo did well not playing the “retro card” like some others did, as if a car looking (a bit) retro couldn’t be modern. Take the Dodge Challenger for instance : at once we can see it’s a Challenger (looking even better than the original, in my opinion), and let me tell you that everything about this car, apart its look, is truly modern.

    Knowing Volvo’s repuration, I’m sure the concept coupe will be a success but not because being the reincarnation of the P1800. There’s nothing wrong about being a little retro as far as the exterior appearance is concerned. And there sure is a market for that kind of cars.

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  2. Absolutely stunning looking concept. Volvo should definitely make this car. The lines do have a very modern retro feel about them. I’d go a lot more classic retro for the interior though. As there’s something too clinical about the interior that lacks emotion and doesn’t seem to match the beauty of the outside. It’s kind of clinical but fussy, like someone’s tried too hard, but fell well short of the smooth flowing beauty of the exterior.

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    • I definitely agree about the exterior, but I like the contrast with the clinical interior. Maybe, that’s just me.

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