Welcome to the first in a playful series of '2013 Awards' articles about the most significant and influential cars of the past year.
What a year for concept cars!
After serious austerity at the major European shows in recent years, our favorite luxury brands embraced exotic prototypes once again in 2013.
After all, show cars can - and do - work wonders for the best car brands. The list is long, but two of great American icons come to mind.
The 1953 Corvette concept led to hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue in the 60 years since then, while the 1989 Dode Viper concept was a critical springboard for the Chrysler's 1990s renaissance across almost all of the company's mainstream car and truck lines.
After debuting in Frankfurt, the Volvo Concept Coupe still makes me stop and stare.
The striking detailing and tasteful new grille are expected to populate the (overdue) XC90 replacement in the next few months, as well.
All good news for Volvo, and good news for Sweden.
Could this be a Swedish Mustang?
The VCC is so special. It is great news for all fans of Swedish cars, with beauty as deep and marvelous as the Roman statues of the press photos. It shows a number of important steps in one single image, and gives Volvo's semi-independent new company identity a goal at which to strive in the mainstream S60 segment, where the current model is lost in obscurity.
A feast of details about the VCC's styling floods over you like the tide, with a roof pillar layout that is almost as racy as the Nissan 350Z. A new portrait-style navigation system shows Volvo admires the Tesla Model S. Overflowing with goodies, the VCC is also quite potent.
An all-new twincharged 2.0-liter engine up front is paired with a plug-in battery pack and a rear axle electric motor. Supercharged as well as turbocharged, the power outputs are 400 horsepower and 440 pound feet of torque.
VCC - Design Analysis
The styling is completely fresh and pure, even versus the relatively new V40 compact wagon that is not imported to America. Comparisons with other tough and macho coupes are almost inevitable, because it looks so much better than the opposition.
The only thing really setting this Volvo Concept Coupe apart from the next-gen Maserati GranTurismo coupe's potential awesomeness is a uniquely tall grille and hood intersection, versus the slinkier noses preferred by the trident brand.
Even this aspect creates some unique tension in the hood line, and especially the bluff and chiseled vertical grille face.
New bumper detailing is quite smooth, geometric and tasteful, which is refreshing after years of odd melted shapes in the plastic bumper corners. The final treat are slim and raked-back rectangular headlights with incredbile LED and crystal lighting technology.
Even more critical, the new lights look hot and instantly make the VCC seem worth premium prices.
Dramatic improvements in the VCC to be sure.
Similarly unique and taut body lines draw the eye rearward to what is a pretty vertical windsheild element and extremely raked rear fenders. Not even the old Volvo Coupe by Bertone gets close to this level of elegance, presumably due to obsession with Elk testing.
Out back, the lovely roofline plunges down just aft of the front seats, with still a blocky and tastefully-revamped trunk signature outline. The huge inverted LED lights are a final treat before this hot coupe thrummmmms up the road - with that trademark Swedish exhaust note ringing in the ears.