Sparkling jewels of the SUV interior
The interior is ‘pure and unlcuttered’ and includes a crystal glass gear lever.

Volvo has finally offered a glimpse of its long-awaited next- generation XC90 and early signs point to the big SUV aiming at the top end of the market.

The Swedish marque is drip-feeding information about the new vehicle ahead of its full unveiling in August, starting with details and shots of the interior.

The current XC90 hit the market way back in 2002 and was one of the first to cash in on buyers looking for prestige and comfort in their SUVs. Going by its claim the new XC90 has Volvo Cars' "most luxurious interior ever", it appears the company has an eye to moving up the SUV food chain and possibly taking on the likes of the German prestige brands.

"Our new interior architecture is pure and uncluttered, while still radiating the sophisticated confidence and formality luxury SUV customers expect," Volvo Cars senior vice-president of research and development Peter Mertens said.

A big, tablet-like, touch-screen control console stands out immediately. While exact details are yet to be revealed, Volvo says the system is almost entirely button-free and will not only control various car functions but access a number of services via the internet.

The materials echo the car's Scandinavian origins with soft leather and wood.

Elsewhere, it hints at the vehicle's up-market aspirations; namely, handcrafted details such as a crystal glass gear lever and diamond controls for the start- stop button and volume control.

"These details are designed to become the jewels of the interior," Volvo Cars' interior design director Robin Page said.

"They add a bit of exclusive playfulness rather than pure functionality."

Volvo has changed its seating. All seats are a new design and shaped to resemble a human spine.

But the biggest tweak is in the rear seat layout. Although it has the same 2-3-2 layout as most seven-seaters, the middle row comprises three separate seats which can be reclined or slid back and forth, independently.

It's a similar approach to that found in the new Honda Odyssey, although the people mover's middle row has two seats instead of three.

Those in the back row have extra legroom under the second row seats and also benefit from a four-zone climate system.

While exterior shots haven't emerged, the XC90 is expected to share many characteristics with the stylish XC Coupe concept displayed at this year's Detroit motor show and the stunning Concept Coupe unveiled at Frankfurt.

It will be the first Volvo to use the company's Scalable Product Architecture, which it says allows for greater design freedom and better "driveability" while allowing for new safety features to be included in the future.

As previously reported in WestWHEELS, those features are expected to cover a suite of cutting-edge technology including pedestrian airbags and a system which can detect movement in the dark and alert the driver.

Volvo says it will reveal safety details in July, ahead of technology, chassis and powertrain specifics before the whole package meets the world in August.

They add a bit of exclusive playfulness rather than pure functionality.

The XC90 is expected in Australia in the first half of next year.

The West Australian

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