As far as test mules go, we've seen some interesting ways to hide prototype cars. The latest car to join the batch of oddball test cars comes from Volvo. With its disproportionate looks, it has even left our spies baffled at what it will be.
By definition, a test mule does not wear the production car's body and seen here is a modified body of a Volvo XC90. While the front section is undeniably Volvo's current largest crossover, it's at the rear is where it gets interesting. The wheels have been stretched further apart and, to accommodate the longer wheelbase, the rear bumper was simply cut out.
Currently, there are three possibilities as to what this mystery Volvo will be. First is an all-new crossover that will slot above the XC90. This is likely as other European luxury brands are considering full-size crossovers on top of their current largest offerings. At the moment, Mercedes-Benz offers the GLS-Class. Audi and BMW have also been working on their own full-size crossovers with the Q8 and X7.
The second possibility is perhaps the simplest one. With China's penchant for long-wheelbase variants, the mule seen here may be the extended version of the XC90. Volvo has offered extended-length versions of their cars in the past, as well as the present. These cars are the S80L and the S60L, also known as the S60 Inscription in Western markets. If so, it will be the first time a Volvo crossover will receive a longer variant.
The third suggestion is that the mule will serve the basis of a pick-up truck. With ballast mounted high up over the rear wheels, it is perhaps to simulate a heavy rear load. Pick-ups typically have longer wheelbases compared to their SUV counterparts for a longer bed. While the idea of an XC90-based pickup is far-fetched, Mercedes-Benz is cashing in on the segment with the yet to be revealed X-Class. Unibody pick-ups are not a new idea either, with examples being the Subaru Baja from the mid-2000's, Honda Ridgeline and the upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz.