Interview with Volvo chief designer Anders Gunnarson. The man behind the new XC90.

Volvo XC90

During the 2014 Paris Motor Show (or Mondial de l’Automobile if you’re feeling fancy), one of the most impressive cars was not those stunning concept cars or sports cars but was in fact a family-friendly SUV. The all-new Volvo XC90 to be exact. Not only did the debut of Volvo’s latest design language on the new XC90 looked stunning yet understated, but that equally premium and upmarket interior (which will not look out-of-place next to an S-Class) hides an even more spacious, practical and not to mention stronger body packing all the latest in safety technologies. Did I mention that it still accommodates 7 full-sized adults just fine? King-of-the-hill Range Rover finally got a new Swedish rival to worry about.

Interview with Anders Gunnarson

Impressed by the new XC90, I knew I have to meet the people responsible for this car and I was fortunate enough to have a quick interview with Volvo Design Manager Exterior, Anders Gunnarson who was in charged of the new look of the new XC90. It’s no meagre task as this new design language you see on the latest XC90 will also translate into future Volvo models, so he has to get it right. But let’s start from the beginning, and this was what he had to say:

How did you start working for Volvo?

I start working for Volvo at 1990 and my first design was the C70 cabriolet. I did a lot of strategic work for a period and then I stopped and returned to production design again. I got to choose what platform I want to work with and I chose the Volvo XC90. At that time we were under the Ford group, and they did not want to invest in us (XC90) and therefore we stopped any developments. So for a certain period they almost decided to kill off the XC90.

How did you get into the car design industry?

I started in Göteborg (Sweden) in product design and then I went to the States at a concept studio where I picked up a few skills I guess. And I have been working for a long period with quite talented people where you get to gain a lot in the industry.

Volvo XC90

The new interior is a huge step-up from its predecessor

Tell me more about the new Volvo XC90

This is very much a new XC90 and it is also repositioned, as it is very important to lift ourselves visually in order to get into new territories when it comes to the product.

So would you say that the Range Rover will be a direct rival to the new XC90?


How would you describe the new XC90?

Durable. Safety. But very important is that it has to look serious, sophisticated and has to be confident. During the design process, we have spoken about the confident look of this vehicle and it’s kind of funny how when it’s finished, that we have people talking about how the car look so confident. That was the word from the beginning of the project and the secret is to work consistently in one direction with the design and you will succeed. And we have.

I mean we have all the lines, all the proportions, and surfacing has been done to enhance the confident look of the vehicle. Especially the rear and the front-end with the upright snout, the depth of the headlights etc.

How was the design process?

I would say that in this case the process has been very design controlled and we have not made too many compromises. We have the support of engineers who have been very dedicated to solve the problems to achieve the good looks of the new XC90.

Looks great from all angles

Looks great from pretty much all angles

My interview with Gunnarson was brief but it had given us a better understanding of the overall design process of this new XC90, and i’m sure it will be a success when it goes on sale. The 2014 Paris Motor Show was also one of the most memorable motor shows for me, so please stay tuned for my full review of my experience there in Paris!