Here is Volvo’s definition of what a uber-luxury sedan should be – it’s called the Concept Universe, and the large and lush vehicle is supposed to offer a preview of what to expect from the firm’s next top-of-the line sedan. It’s all rather removed from the current S80, which suddenly looks quite dowdy.

The company says that the Concept Universe – which was unveiled in Shanghai – has been designed to spark a subconscious desire and a feeling of eternal beauty, with a form exhibiting a new human-centric design language.

The shape is very much geared towards the future, with a coupe-like roofline and contemporary, solid rear defining things, but Volvo says it also echoes the company’s proud heritage by borrowing design cues from classic models of the past.

No specific technical details with this one, so it’s left to the imagination and visuals to hold court. There’s no shortage of Scandinavian design cues on parade though, especially in the cabin.

The interior has been designed to be user-focused but refreshingly uncomplicated, being driver-orientated in the front and comfortably relaxed in the rear, Volvo says. Features available to the driver are intuitive controls and a touch-screen that approaches the hand when the driver reaches towards it.

The seating on this one is inspired by ultra-comfortable chairs. Passengers at the back – enveloped by an interior that moulds into the rear seat and becomes part of the seating environment – are embraced by light-coloured seats offering pure comfort.

Displaying classic forms, materials and textures, all used with a twist to create a special contemporary luxury experience, the Concept Universe is very much a style-sampling exercise – the company is eager to hear what the most demanding Chinese customers think of this luxurious concept, ahead of taking notes from its European and American customer base. Well, China is very much the “home” market now, so it’s no surprise potential customers there get first dibs on exploring the new bits being bandied with this one.

In Shanghai, Volvo also announced that it is developing an all-new platform architecture called SPA (Scaled Platform Architecture) for its next generation of cars. When the next luxury sedan arrives in a few years, it will be among the first Volvos built on the SPA; the platform will eventually find its way on to all the company’s large and mid-size cars.

Gallery after the jump.

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