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Volvo Performance Concept Car - a bolt from the blue

28 September 2000

Volvo Performance Concept Car

Volvo Performance Concept Car - a bolt from the blue

    Volvo Car Corporation strikes with a blue bolt at the Paris Motor Show
    2000.  With one of the world's most advanced dynamically controlled
    chassis, electronically managed four-wheel drive and 300 bhp of power on
    tap, the Volvo Performance Concept Car is a study of a future
    high-performance car.

    PARIS, Sept. 28 The new Volvo S60 is the sportiest and
most dynamic Volvo sedan ever.  In parallel with the development of the more
regular roadgoing S60 models, a team of engineers and designers have worked on
a concept study to identify and test technical solutions and a design
structure that will support a feasible high-performance model.
    "From the design viewpoint, we wanted to provide a hint of what a future
high-performance car with a Volvo badge could look like," says Peter Horbury,
vice president and chief designer at Volvo Cars.  "The Volvo Performance
Concept Car has a subtle racing-car appearance that conveys refined sporty

     Laser Blue and Silver
    The car is painted in Laser Blue, an exclusive livery featuring a
so-called "flop effect", whereby the color nuance shimmers and changes with
lighting conditions.
    In a head-on view, the Volvo Performance Concept Car displays a new front
spoiler with two additional air intakes whose pronounced grilles direct
airflow towards the radiator and front brakes respectively.  The grilles have
a satin-silver finish.
    The rear bumper has a satin-silver center panel that separates the dual
inset rectangular exhaust tailpipes, further emphasizing the sporty
    On each side, the front spoiler features a stability-enhancing aerofoil on
the lower lip, running from the front towards the leading edge of the front
wheel housing.  The stabilizer then follows the line of the bottom rail
between the front and rear wheel housings, continuing in an elongated
teardrop-shaped lip aerofoil that integrates into the rear spoiler.  These
airflow stabilizers are also finished in satin-silver, contrasting elegantly
with the Laser Blue livery.
    Under the car there is a smooth undertray front to channel air optimally
and thus minimize lift force at speed.
    The wheels come straight from the racing-track. They are the 19" BBS
magnesium wheels used on the British Touring Car Championship's Volvo S40, and
they are shod with 245/35-19 tires.
    The interior also exudes an aura of sportiness and refinement.  The deeply
contoured seats are upholstered in soft leather with a metallic effect as well
as inlay panels in nubuck suede, the pedals are made of ribbed aluminum and
the instrument panel's gauges are an exclusive shade of blue.  The instruments
are set in a panel surrounded by nubuck suede trim.
    Under the bonnet is a potent version of the Volvo 5-cylinder 2435 cc
engine, producing 300 bhp and no less than 400 Nm of torque and mated to a
6-speed compact four-shaft manual gearbox developed in-house.

    FOUR-C - a unique chassis
    The most interesting feature on the Volvo Performance Concept Car cannot
really be seen from the outside or even by lifting the bonnet: it is the
unique continuously controlled chassis that creates hitherto unsurpassed
potential for optimizing the dampers to suit the driver's bias towards
comfortable progress or enthusiastic driving.
    FOUR-C (Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept), as Volvo Cars has dubbed
the system, is the outcome of close long-term cooperation with Ohlins Racing
AB, one of the world's foremost manufacturers and developers of advanced
high-technology damper systems.
    What is unique about FOUR-C is its ability to collect huge amounts of
information about the way in which the car moves and to respond instantly by
the adjusting the damper characteristics to suit.
    Every alternate millisecond, that is to say 500 times per second, the
system's microprocessor monitors the precise position of each wheel, assessing
its degree of grip and so on, and alters the damping characteristics of each
individual wheel accordingly.

    A large amount of information
    The main body of information supplied to the dampers comes from the height
sensors and body-mounted accelerometers that measure the position and
movements of each wheel and the car's body.
    The car's on-board computer system, Volvo's Multiplex processor system,
also supplies vital information to the dampers, helping the system to foresee
events before they actually occur.  For example, if the driver brakes firmly,
this information reaches the dampers a few milliseconds before the brake pads
actually grab the discs.  In this tiny time gap, the FOUR-C microprocessor
will have calculated just how much the car will want to pitch once the brake
pads are actually activated, and using this information, will instantly reset
and prepare the dampers to maximize control and roadholding before the body
actually has time to alter its pitch.
    If braking is so harsh that the ABS system is activated, the dampers are
set to maximize tire grip on the road surface.
    A corresponding effect resulting from harsh acceleration and quick
steering wheel movements is also taken care of invisibly by the FOUR-C system.

    Three chassis modes
    FOUR-C offers three chassis modes that can be selected by the driver via a
button set into the instrument panel:
    1. Comfort
    2. Sport
    3. Advanced sport

    However, these chassis modes are not fixed settings.  They are more a way
for the driver to indicate to the system which driving style he or she prefers
for the moment.  Is it time to pack the car with family and luggage for the
annual summer holiday -- or for some active driving on curvy roads?

    The normal mode, Sport, is optimized for normal driving, with a well
balanced mix of comfort and driving pleasure.  On top of this, the driver can
select the two other modes.

    "The Comfort mode optimizes the FOUR-C body's isolation from
irregularities in the road," explains Marcus Rothoff, development engineer at
Volvo Cars and the person responsible for the development of FOUR-C.
He says that it is as though the car has simulated or virtual dampers
suspended in the sky. "Sky Hook" is in fact the term that is used in the

    The Advanced Sport mode totally alters the character of the car:
    "The system gives top priority to maximum driving pleasure and
roadholding, permitting a firmer ride so that the driver has more direct
contact with the road surface," continues Marcus Rothoff.

    The Volvo Performance Concept Car is equipped with DSTC (Dynamic Stability
and Traction Control).  It serves as a "helping hand", stepping in to help the
driver avoid a skid.
    In the Volvo Performance Concept Car, the choice of chassis mode
influences just how early or late in a skid the DSTC system steps in to
recover the car's poise.
    The Stability Traction System, STC, is disengaged in the Advanced Sport
chassis mode.
    FOUR-C significantly enhances the sum total of active driving pleasure,
stability and comfort.  The three manually controlled modes make it possible
to discover and appreciate the thrilling properties of a high-performance car.
The system offers enthusiastic sporty driving on demand -- in a car that is
equally at home driving to the supermarket to do the weekly shopping.

    Electronically managed four-wheel drive
The Volvo Performance Concept Car is also fitted with electronically managed
four-wheel drive, AWD.  It has been developed together with one of the
foremost experts in this field, Haldex of Sweden.
    The AWD system is linked to the car's Multiplex system.  This means that
it communicates continuously with the car's other functions to optimize
four-wheel drive operation to suit current conditions.  The unique interaction
between AWD, DSTC and FOUR-C gives the car exactly the intended ride and
roadholding characteristics -- anywhere between comfort and advanced
        The electronically controlled AWD system is characterized by extremely
rapid engagement and disengagement.  Since the AWD system responds so swiftly,
it is possible to balance and control oversteering and understeering
tendencies with immense precision and stability.
    "In this application, we're not using four-wheel drive for enhanced
off-road ability, but optimizing it for superb roadholding and dependable
stability," says Hans Nilsson, overall project manager of the Volvo
Performance Concept Car.
    "The work we have done with the Performance Concept Car helps us to choose
the right path for a feasible high-performance model in the future," concludes
Hans Nilsson.