"We lost our way," admitted Volvo North America CEO Tony Nicolosi in his New Jersey-honed Italianate accent. Never an easy thing for an executive to confess. "We gotta go back to our roots. Society is coming back to what we represent as a brand: environment, family, safety. We've just been poor at communicating it."

By the end of this year, approximately 42,000 Volvos will move out the proverbial door -- down 6 percent from 2011. The death of the C70 and C30 certainly hurt sales. Volvo hasn't had a U.S. product launch since 2010. Four years! After enough controversy and hand wringing, Volvo finally acquiesced and announced that the V60 wagon will come to America -- four years after it was first introduced, alongside the S60. Underinvested and undermarketed, Volvo seemed to lay dormant.

Now, flush with cash from Geely -- to the tune of an $11 billion investment over the next 10 years -- the Volvo of tomorrow promises that by 2020 it will become a "top-tier premium brand," selling 800,000 cars around the world. And Volvo's tomorrow resides on a single gamble -- a predictor of looming emissions regulations, of tightening safety standards, of consumer demand, of autonomous driving, of "a new premium," of an electrified future, of the future itself. It is a bold undertaking -- one that smacks of admirable, determined focus but also an air of we know better than you, dear consumer, and you will eventually come around to what we like.

The wheels are set in motion, the checks have been written, the R&D funding all but secure. This gamble is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine across its entire lineup.

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