References to revolutions can be a delicate issue, especially in China. Yet, how else could one describe the changes at Volvo since its 2010 acquisition by Chinese auto maker Geely from Ford?

First Volvo announced in December its new scalable product architecture would replace the current Ford-derived platform as the basis for most future products. Then came its all-new family of 4-cyl. gasoline and diesel Drive-E powertrains at the core of the Volvo engine architecture generation.

The first of a series of three concept cars is the Volvo Concept Coupe debuting Sept. 10 at the Frankfurt auto show. Expect the next one in December or January at a show in the U.S., followed by one in Geneva.

Shaping an entirely new future based on the brand name and heritage, the potential of the Chinese market and the need to develop new platforms independent of Ford components is a necessity, not a choice.

Leading the transformation is Thomas Ingenlath, recruited a year ago from the talent-rich Volkswagen Group to serve as vice president-design. Credited with outstanding work at Audi, Skoda and the Volkswagen Advanced Design Center in Potsdam, Germany, Ingenlath is moving Volvo design forward with the Volvo Concept Coupe.

The 2-door, 2+2-seat plug-in hybrid features classic notchback architecture and a silhouette that makes an open and honest reference to the iconic 1961-1973 Volvo P1800, designed in Italy by Piero Frua.

The Concept Coupe bears some elements from the P1800 because, says Ingenlath: “It is a car designer’s duty to reflect and incorporate design signatures that are vital parts of the company’s heritage. We are using them to create a future where sheer beauty becomes a recognized part of Volvo’s identity.”

Similarities to the architecture of the P1800 include a low-slung hood, high belt line and small greenhouse. Reduced height and 5-spoke, 21-in. wheels suggest an elegant GT.

The concept car’s 2.0L supercharged turbo gasoline engine, teamed with an electric motor on the rear axle, is capable of 402 hp and more than 440 lb.-ft. (600 Nm) of torque.

The blue-grey exterior is echoed on the inside with handcrafted elements such as a leather-trimmed instrument panel, inlays made of naturally aged wood and dark blue woven carpets blended with beautifully machined metal details. A large touchscreen in the center stack interacts with adaptive digital and head-up displays.

Ingenlath stresses the Volvo Concept Coupe is no futuristic dream car but instead is designed to demonstrate the capability of the new architecture: the confident stance, the proportions and the most prominent design signatures.  Some styling cues will make their way to the auto maker’s flagship XC90 cross/utility vehicle due on the market in 2014.

“Even though the all-new XC90 is an entirely different type of car, you will recognize the connection instantly when it is revealed next year,” he says.