Menswear designer Shahrin Bahar is one who pays great attention to detail. The suit-maker who studied at the London College of Fashion is a firm believer of buying quality. Much like Volvo, Shahrin, who worked at German design house Burlington and Puma before starting his namesake label, adopts an intellectual approach when it comes to design.
“It is always ‘why’ first rather than ‘what’,” Shahrin explains his philosophy of design. “Analyse, discover and ideate the problems that need addressing when starting a new design. Once we find a substantial amount of research or an angle that we find interesting or inspiring, it almost designs itself. Substance over style is definitely the approach we like to believe.”
With the XC40, Volvo sought to create using the same values. In conceptualising the car, Volvo studied how city folks the world over use their cars and how their belongings are stored within the cabin. Some solutions required the Volvo designers to undertake some pretty revolutionary steps.
For example, by moving the speakers from the door and developing a world-first, air-ventilated dashboard-mounted sub-woofer, Volvo created enough storage sufficient to place a laptop or tablet.
In doing so, Volvo succeeds in meeting the form and function requirement that Scandinavian design typically dictates. The XC40 was created with the challenges of ‘modern city life’ in mind, with the objective of making the daily urban commute less stressful and more enjoyable. This is a process that Shahrin can identify with.
“It is not only essential but it’s the core of product design,” he says emphasising the importance of good design being functional. “Every product that stood the test of time is built from intelligent thought process and extensive research.”
Little details like slots for credit and service cards that can be neatly inserted into the dashboard, making them readily available when needed have been incorporated. There is a large storage area in the tunnel console, under the armrest for a tissue box as well as a special removable bin that allows you to discard waste easily. On the glove compartment there is a small fold-away hook for small shopping or take-away bags.
The SUV thus mixes form and function quite successfully making it likely to become the vehicle of choice among young, urban start-up types who are unlikely to opt for more ‘obvious’ choices. Design-wise, the XC40 breaks the ‘boring and safe’ stereotype that is typically associated with the marque. With this model, the Swedish carmaker ventures into the premium SUV segment for the first time, striking a chord with a younger audience, just like Shahrin.
“I always seek design lines that speak of a timeless aesthetic,” Shahrin says regarding his choice of car. “Something that is built by performance and function as a priority and safety features that give the driver and passengers a peace of mind.”
Volvo achieves this successfully with the XC40, bringing the technology of the ‘bigger’ siblings into the more compact automobile. Built on Volvo’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), the XC40 comes equipped with innovations like Pilot Assist, the latest generation of City Safety comprising autonomous collision mitigation and avoidance, Run-off Road Protection and Mitigation and Cross Traffic Alert with Auto Brake.
The features are important to the father of two who now takes the safety of his kids into consideration when deciding on a car.
“I look at safety features as the key element when it comes to cars,” he states. “The best designed cars will give you the amazing safety features as it also wants you to drive the car in its optimal state. The Volvo XC40 is the best example on the market right now. I can speed up without worrying that the safety features in this car is compromised.”
With this model, Volvo has managed to achieve the seemingly impossible task of making safety sexy.
The Volvo XC40 is priced at RM255,888 and is available in four distinct colours: Bursting Blue, Fusion Red, Cyrstal White and Osmium Grey.
The feature was first published in the Augustman Malaysia Cruise 2019 pull-out of the October 2019 issue