VOLVO has unveiled its vision of the sports utility market with the unveiling of its Adventure Concept Car (ACC).

"We want to show that we mean business when we say that we have what it takes to compete with the very best in the SUV segment," says Hans-Olov Olsson, president of Volvo Car Corporation.

Although the concept car is not the same as Volvo's plans for the British roads, the Swedish company says it is a tool for assessing the expectations and demands the market has in an SUV from Volvo.

"It is important to hear the views and comments of our customers while we still have time to make precision adjustments to the product," says Dieter Laxy, head of marketing, sales and service at Volvo Car Corporation.

Visitors to the Detroit motor show have been able to make their views of the ACC known directly to Volvo's SUV development team via special computer monitors. At a later stage, Internet users all over the world will have the same chance to pass on their comments.

Volvo says the name Adventure emphasises the car's talents and versatility for all types of safe adventures thanks to a fine-tuned combination of off-road capability, driving pleasure, roominess, safety and comfort.

The Volvo ACC is based on five elements the market would expect in an SUV from Volvo.

l Driving characteristics on a par with those in a well-balanced car, when it comes to both road feedback and driving safety.

l First-class protection for all the occupants in an accident - without being unnecessarily aggressive to the other car in a collision.

l Powerful, responsive engines combined with competitive fuel consumption and operational economy.

l Emissions on the same level as those of a normal car. The target is for this larger, heavier model to comply with the tough US emissions requirements.

l Generous interior space without taking up too much room on the road.

The Volvo ACC carries many styling cues from the latest Volvo range, such as shapely rear light clusters and distinctive, rounded "shoulders" around its waistline.

Like the Volvo S60, the Volvo ACC has what is known as a cab-forward appearance; in other words, the driver's area is at the very front. The front lines slope forward gently to create a muscular impression without making the car look too aggressive.

Peter Horbury, chief designer at Volvo, says: "We are interested to see the kind of reception people give to a large Volvo SUV. The target has been to find a design that is not as macho as many other SUV models in the segment. We prefer to talk about a masculine appearance, a design that creates a sense of security.

"This is important in view of the fact that many SUV buyers are women who like the feeling of safety and control."

In the Volvo ACC, the driver sits high up and well to the front, with good visibility outside the car and perfect control of the low-level instruments.

The Volvo ACC has four individual seats and an exceptional equipment level. Among other things, passengers have access to a refrigerator, TV and a world-class audio unit.