Volvo, a company known for making cars with user-friendly interiors, will be doing away with buttons and knobs in favor of touchscreen controls in the future.
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Its Concept Estate, to be unveiled next week at the Geneva Motor Show, shows what the next generation of Volvo interiors will look like. At the center of the new design, which represents a radical departure for the conservative Swedish automaker, is a large, tablet-like touchscreen.
It replaces all controls except those Volvo considers crucial: volume, play/pause, window heaters and hazard lights. Each of these functions has a dedicated button or knob located along the bottom of the touchscreen.
“Not having to deal with buttons and controls for a growing number of functionalities is like being freed from a pair of handcuffs,” said Robin Page, interior design director for Volvo Car Group in a press release announcing the Concept Estate. “This has made it possible to build a beautiful interior architecture around the portrait screen.”
Virtually every luxury automaker now uses large screens with menus to control most functions. But attempts to pare down interior controls have been met with varied success.
BMW was arguably the first to do so in the early 2000s with its controversial iDrive system. It has since gone through numerous revisions to add back hard buttons and knobs.
Ford has retrenched as well, recently announcing that it will reintroduce some dedicated controls to its Sync with MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch in response to complaints from consumers over difficulties using the touchscreen systems.
Cadillac is one of the latest to join the fray with its CUE introduced on the ATS and XTS sedans, which were all-new for the 2013 model year. It too has been receiving mixed reviews.
One thing is for sure, though: The interior design of the Volvo Concept Estate is aesthetically pleasing, with the feel of a Scandinavian living room. The dashboard, instrument cluster and two-spoke steering wheel are reminiscent of the Volvo P1800S from the early 1970s.
The exterior of the Concept Estate also pays homage to that beloved classic, particularly at the rear.
Other design cues, such as the t-shaped daytime running lights and front bumper with large inlets and “floating” grille, carry over from the Concept XC Coupe shown at the North American International Auto Show in January, and the Concept Coupe, unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show.
The 2014 Geneva Motor Show is open to the public from March 6 to 16, following two press days.