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Volvo Cars releases the first photos of its upcoming XC60 cross/utility vehicle, which is slated to make its global debut at the Geneva auto show March 4.

The XC60 takes aim at the “small premium utility” segment, which Volvo says is the world’s “toughest and fastest-growing.”

The first units will reach dealers in Europe in the fall, with the U.S. rollout scheduled for first-quarter 2009.

Volvo Design Director Steve Mattin says the XC60 is “charged with a more emotive form and more energy than any other Volvo.

“We’re elevating our design DNA to an entirely new level by literally turning up the visual volume,” he says. “If you say that you’d recognize a Volvo from 300 ft. (91 m) away today, I dare say the XC60 radiates a clear Volvo presence from at least twice that distance.”

The XC60 will come standard with Volvo’s City Safety system, which is designed to reduce collisions that occur at speeds less than 30 mph (48 km/h) by automatically applying the brakes should the driver fail to react.

“Volvo is the first in the world to offer this type of feature as standard,” says Fredrik Arp, president and CEO. “City Safety clearly signals that the new XC60 is the safest car Volvo has ever produced.”

The XC60 targets consumers who “impose high demands on design, brand integrity and high-tech content,” Volvo says.

In the U.S., the XC60 will be powered by a 281-hp turbocharged 6-cyl. engine.

Volvo says the global sales target is 50,000 units a year, with the bulk of deliveries going to the U.S., Germany, U.K., Russia and China.

Volvo will build the XC60 at its Ghent, Belgium, plant.