Volvo – Automobile Magazine http://www.automobilemag.com No Boring Cars! | Reviews, Auto Shows, Lifestyle Tue, 19 Sep 2017 14:40:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Swedes in Denver: We Drive the 2018 Volvo XC60, V90, and S90 T8 Hybrid http://www.automobilemag.com/news/swedes-in-denver-we-drive-the-2018-volvo-xc60-v70-and-s90-t8-hybrid/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/swedes-in-denver-we-drive-the-2018-volvo-xc60-v70-and-s90-t8-hybrid/#respond Wed, 06 Sep 2017 04:01:50 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1187289 EVERGREEN, Colorado — The solar eclipse occurred as we ended the morning’s drive from Denver to Evergreen. Most people watched the celestial event through special glasses, but one woman on the shore of Evergreen Lake wore a welder’s mask. Better yet, a lucky few climbed into the cushy backseat of a 2018 Volvo XC60 to...

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EVERGREEN, Colorado — The solar eclipse occurred as we ended the morning’s drive from Denver to Evergreen. Most people watched the celestial event through special glasses, but one woman on the shore of Evergreen Lake wore a welder’s mask. Better yet, a lucky few climbed into the cushy backseat of a 2018 Volvo XC60 to look through the laminated panoramic roof with a special filter.

Volvo was happily showing off its all-new XC60, which replaces the previous-generation model after nine years. Malin Ekholm, vice president of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre, had even come all the way from Sweden to share her passion for the XC60’s class-leading suite of standard and optional safety features. But Ekholm had neglected to mention eclipse-viewing protection. It could probably have been claimed as an industry first: “blind spot” protection par excellence.

We had arrived at this scene in an XC60 T6 AWD R-Design, ours since the midmorning coffee break. The R-Design is the obvious choice for enthusiasts. Equipped with paddle shifters, it allows the desired amount of driver interaction on sweeping, swooping mountain roads. We often kept the eight-speed automatic transmission in third gear for bursts on short straightaways as well as the engine-braking effect when approaching turns. Yes, the morning had begun with a technical presentation, and we heard how autonomous driving is a pursuit of Volvo’s. No, we weren’t interested just now.

Setting the driving mode in Dynamic gave us the right amount of steering assist. The suspension—double-wishbone front and an integral-link rear—and optional 21-inch R-Design Wheels with summer tires made this 4,045-pound crossover into a multi-sport athlete. With all-wheel drive, it excels at the steeplechase but won’t fall too far behind in a road race. In fact, at 184.6 inches, it’s just 1.3 inches longer than the Ferrari 812 Superfast, so be ready for some fun.

Under the hood, there’s the turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine we know from the larger XC90. This direct-injection DOHC 16-valve unit produces 316 hp at 5,700 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque in a flat curve through the midrange. If we could only tell our uncle, who always dressed in a white T-shirt and bluejeans and believed so fervently in cubic inches, that the R-Design will sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, we know he would say, “Yer dreamin’!”

This second-generation crossover is good-looking, too. The R-Design features dramatic LED running lights, a black mesh grille, and bladelike lower fascia elements. The flanks have obviously benefited from Crossfit training, and the tail has nicely integrated pipes and a tidy “body control” lower insert.

Inside the XC60 R-Design, we found the upholstery and trim to be a trite rehash of performance-car norms. It was serious to a fault with black leather and Nubuck seats, black headliner, and aluminum inlays. It just didn’t seem like a Volvo; Swedes don’t think like this. Nevertheless, it’s all included in the $3,300 R-Design package (the big wheels are another $1,000).

The 2018 XC60 has a base price of $45,895, but our tester climbed the price ladder with a Convenience Package ($2,000) adding Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving and power-folding second-row seats with electric-folding headrests; a Vision Package ($1,100) adding numerous driver assistance features; Advanced Package ($1,900) for whiz-bangery like 360-degree-view camera, head-up display, and LED headlights that peek around corners. Heated front seats and heated steering wheel, pleasing metallic blue paint, and a sound system that at $3,200 is more expensive than starting your own band brought the final tab to $59,740.

Starting out from Denver, after the early technical presentation, we had driven the even more expensive XC60 T8 E-AWD Inscription. This Apollonian chariot—a leader of Volvo’s ballyhooed strategy that will find all models offered with electrification by next year—incorporates an 87 hp electric motor and 10.4 kWh battery in the most unobtrusive way. We never noticed any pausing or hesitation after pressing the accelerator, nor did we hear the annoying street-railway whine of Toyota’s Synergy Drive under braking. The combined output is 400 hp and 472 lb-ft, so the T8 shows plenty of eagerness despite weighing in at 4,599 lb. It sprints from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds, yet the EPA combined rating, which is still being determined, is sure to exceed the T6’s 27 highway mpg.

The one major knock against this hybrid is the lack of any powertrain resistance on long downhill sections. The gearshift, which has a lovely Orrefors crystal element, lacks a sport shift feature for downshifting, and there are no paddle shifters, so we rode the brakes and cringed. It also sacrifices towing capacity (5,291 lb versus 4,409 lb) compared to the non-hybrids. Otherwise, with the optional air suspension, the driving was excellent.

In top-of-the-line Inscription trim ($71,590 as tested), the T8 E-AWD has a stately look with touches of elegance, and the interior is glorious, with a beautiful sculpted dashboard. Volvo could have told us the driftwood inlays had been gathered on skerries of the Stockholm archipelago by Ole Larsson and Lars Olsson during fishing bans. Or maybe the Swedes just tricked Finns into doing it. Whatever the sourcing, a unique storytelling opportunity is being wasted.

Malin Labecker, the engineer who leads the digital user-experience effort, had also come from Sweden, in her case to demonstrate the infotainment system. Yes, there were two Malins, and they explained the name was popular for baby girls in the 1970s because of a character in Astrid Lindgren’s 1964 TV series Vi på Saltkråkan, or We on Seacrow Island. While Malin Ekholm leads the safety effort, Malin Labecker and her team deserve credit for the crackerjack infotainment system and its 9.0-inch touchscreen. The home display presents four “tiles” for the major departments, and obscure functions are never more than a few swipes away. Meanwhile, it and the 12.3-inch driver instrument display look beautiful. Other automakers should be jealous of Volvo’s achievement.

Volvo also brought the latest 90-series cars, and after the eclipse (and lunch), we sampled the V90 T6 AWD Inscription. Loving station wagons as we do, it was only natural to open the tailgate first, admiring the 69.0 cubic feet of cargo volume and 78.3 inches of Goldendoodle stretch-out space with second row seats folded. A flip-up grocery bag holder is part of the $1,900 convenience package.

The V90 is 9.7 inches longer than the XC60, and its liftover height of 24.0 inches is 6.6 inches lower. With the same super- and turbocharged 2.0-liter engine making 316 hp, it was quite responsive (0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds). Yet, because of excellent aerodynamic efficiency, it will return 31 highway mpg. Cloaked in dark brown with a cream-colored interior, the V90 T6 AWD Inscription fired us up. It’s sensible like a Swede, sleek without straining, and scrumptious with its tailored dash and other appointments. This one stickered for $69,340. Placing the V90 on the shopping list would lead to a hard decision for those also considering a Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate.

Please note: Volvo is not stocking the V90 in dealerships and is offering the car only as a special order. Searching for a more efficient method of retailing, senior vice president Lex Kerssemakers said he would rather not overload dealerships with inventory. “We just want to see how it works,” he said.

The return leg to Denver was completed in a 2018 S90 T8 E-AWD Inscription. The sedan enjoys a 4.5-inch increase in rear legroom, has a panoramic sunroof, and incorporates hybrid propulsion. The tradeoffs from having the electric drive components behind the rear seat are lack of space for a spare tire and a slightly smaller fuel tank. This is the car the successful executive, entrepreneur, or professional will purchase after receiving a phone reminder to “Reward Yourself.” The S90 is altogether satisfying to drive and expresses a degree of noncomformity.

Our day in the latest Volvos confirmed several things. Volvo is making great cars and crossovers that proceeded over Colorado’s roads with the “relaxed confidence” Kerssemakers and his crew like to speak of. The strategies emphasizing electrification, autonomy, and ultimate safety are right on, yet the knack for design is as strong as ever. And meeting the magnificent Malins from engineering, CEO Kerssemakers, and product guru Hans Nilsson—who has raced and improved the same Volvo 240 for more than two decades—gives us plenty of reason to believe in the company. How great it is to have Volvo back from its period of eclipse.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 E-AWD Inscription Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $53,895/$71,590 (base/as tested)
ENGINE Direct-injection 2.0L turbocharged and supercharged DOHC 16-valve I-4 and electric motor with 10.4 kWh lithium-ion battery/400 hp @ 5,700 rpm 472 lb-ft @ 2,200 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD crossover
EPA MILEAGE TBD
L x W x H 184.6 x 78.7 x 65.3 in
WHEELBASE 112.8 in
WEIGHT 4,599 lb
0-60 MPH 4.9 sec
TOP SPEED 140 mph

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 AWD R-Design Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $45,895/$59,740 (base/as tested)
ENGINE Direct-injection 2.0L turbocharged and supercharged DOHC 16-valve I-4 /316 hp @ 5,700 rpm 295 lb-ft @ 2,200 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD crossover
EPA MILEAGE 21/27 mpg (city/highway)
L x W x H 184.6 x 78.7 x 65.3 in
WHEELBASE 112.8 in
WEIGHT 4,045 lb
0-60 MPH 5.6 sec
TOP SPEED 140 mph

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD Inscription Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $58,945/$69,340 (base/as tested)
ENGINE Direct-injection 2.0L turbocharged and supercharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/316 hp @ 5,400 rpm 295 lb-ft @ 2,200 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 5-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD station wagon
EPA MILEAGE TBD
L x W x H 194.3 x 79.5 x 58.1 in
WHEELBASE 115.8 in
WEIGHT 4,169 lb
0-60 MPH 5.8 sec
TOP SPEED 130 mph

2018 Volvo S90 T8 E-AWD Inscription Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $64,745/$82,140 (base/as tested)
ENGINE Direct-injection 2.0L turbocharged and supercharged DOHC 16-valve I-4 and electric motor with 10.4 kWh lithium-ion battery/400 hp @ 5,700 rpm 472 lb-ft @ 2,200 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD, sedan
EPA MILEAGE TBD
L x W x H 200.1 x 74.6 x 57.1 in
WHEELBASE 120.5 in
WEIGHT N/A
0-60 MPH  4.7 sec
TOP SPEED 130 mph

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Volvo Teases Interior, Safety Features of XC40 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/volvo-xc40-teaser-previews-interior-safety-features/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/volvo-xc40-teaser-previews-interior-safety-features/#respond Fri, 01 Sep 2017 16:17:05 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1187435 Every new model Volvo has rolled out recently has an arsenal of safety and driver assistance features, and the XC40 will be no exception. In a new teaser, Volvo shows off some of the technologies we’ll see on the small crossover. The XC40 has a portrait-oriented touchscreen with slim air vents on either side. When parking, the screen...

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Every new model Volvo has rolled out recently has an arsenal of safety and driver assistance features, and the XC40 will be no exception. In a new teaser, Volvo shows off some of the technologies we’ll see on the small crossover.

The XC40 has a portrait-oriented touchscreen with slim air vents on either side. When parking, the screen shows a 360-degree image of the vehicle’s surroundings to help drivers maneuver into tight parking spaces. Other technologies coming to the XC40 include cross traffic alert with automatic braking and run-off road protection and mitigation.

The crossover also features semi-autonomous driving technology with Pilot Assist. Available on other Volvos, this feature helps steer the car in its lane and maintains a preset speed or distance relative to the vehicle ahead. Also coming to the XC40 is the latest generation of City Safety, which helps drivers avoid low-speed collisions.

Judging from the teaser, the XC40 will receive a digital instrument cluster. With few stray buttons in the cabin, the XC40 seems to have been designed with simplicity in mind.

The XC40 will be the first Volvo to sit on the automaker’s Compact Modular Architecture. The upcoming S40 sedan and V40 hatch will also use this architecture, as will a new crossover from Volvo’s Geely sibling, Lynk & Co.

Expect the XC40 to debut sometime this fall.

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A Mesmerizing Road Trip in a 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mesmerizing-road-trip-2017-volvo-v90-cross-country/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mesmerizing-road-trip-2017-volvo-v90-cross-country/#respond Thu, 31 Aug 2017 07:01:23 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1186928 Brian Horn may have the best job in the world. Horn is a guide with Grand Teton Fly Fishing in Wyoming. He spends all of his days, or at least the ones when the sun stays in the sky way past dinner time, guiding fly fishermen down the Snake River, and along no less beautiful...

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Brian Horn may have the best job in the world. Horn is a guide with Grand Teton Fly Fishing in Wyoming. He spends all of his days, or at least the ones when the sun stays in the sky way past dinner time, guiding fly fishermen down the Snake River, and along no less beautiful rivers and streams, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

When fishing season ends there, he is off to Belize, the Florida Keys, or New Zealand, casting, catching, and releasing rainbowed, speckled, water-colored, aqua-breathing, dry-fly gobbling trout, or a related finned cousin. And when the days become really short and temperatures drop and water freezes, he is up in the Montana backcountry hunting 800-pound elk. Kind of beats the hell out that 9-to-5 gig, wearing a coat and tie, staring at the blank spot in your cubicle, and suddenly realizing you are only in your mid-30s and there is another 24 years before you get that company going away party, doesn’t it?

I met Horn a week ago, when I realized I had spent too many weeks in a row looking through the back end of camera, at too many loud and fast moving objects racing past the opposite end. So I made the relatively last minute decision to take a mid-racing season, mini vacation as far away from civilization as I could drive to.

But first, I had another sports car race to photograph. Not a bad thing, especially this one, the Pirelli World Challenge event in Utah. I really like the PWC series, as it features great cars, great drivers, and usually great circuits. This round was at Utah Motorsports Campus (UMC), formerly Miller Motorsports Park. The facility sits on 511 acres in Tooele, Utah, which is 30 minutes west of Salt Lake City.

UMC is the second longest road course in North America. Originally the dream project of businessman, car enthusiast, and Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller, the facility has fallen on a bit of hard times after Miller died in 2009 and his family did not renew the lease with Tooele County. Recently, Mitime, a subsidiary of the Chinese conglomerate Geely, offered to purchase UMC for $20 million. Other bids followed and it seems a public auction will ultimately decide this track’s fate. If the Mitime bid prevails, its plans include adding a drag strip, an oval track, and a hotel to the site. If Mitime is outbid, the likelihood of sports-car racing continuing at this great facility is rather small.

A proper road trip, even a short one, requires a new and interesting destination, a hassle-free co-pilot, and the appropriate car. Grand Teton National Park was the destination, and I secured a cabin at the Jackson Lake Lodge. The co-pilot was an easy and natural choice: “the Gator”, the econ professor, marathon runner, Skip Barber racing school grad, University of Florida football fanatic—also known as my better half. We’ve made several memorable road trips together over the last several months—driving across Norway, hiking in Iceland, exploring the national parks in southern Utah, and a Met and Nobu blitz in New York City. Having her along makes traveling all the better.

The car needed to be elegant enough for semi-formal evenings on the town, large enough to handle a good bit of luggage, comfortable enough for hours of interstate driving, and capable enough for handling stuff on or off the beaten path. One car came to mind, a car I’ve wanted to drive since it was introduced several months ago, the all-new 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country. Volvo was game, so the car was ready for me as I walked out of my hotel room on Friday morning in Salt Lake City. Reposed in Volvo’s magic blue metallic exterior, with amber leather seats with charcoal interior, and equipped with plenty of useful technologies and features (if a car has “bells and whistles” I don’t want to drive it) I would come to know and appreciate over the coming days.

With the exception of some of the music (ABBA and Bjork? Really?), I’ve always appreciated the Scandinavian way of doing things. Understated, modest, unusually well-thought-out social institutions, an inspired culinary scene, plus novels and television shows with substance.

I can now add car design to my list.

Thomas Ingenlath, Volvo’s senior vice president of design, and his team, created a new generation of cars that reflect the Swedish aesthetic. External lines are understated, graceful, elegant, and beautiful. Their interiors boast quality and comfort, and seem instantly familiar. Inside and outside, this generation of Volvos is balanced and distinctive, athletic and supple. Perhaps not the words you expect to be associated with Sweden. But don’t forget this is the country which produced Ingrid Bergman, Alicia Vikander, Ingemar Stenmark, Bjorn Borg, and Ronnie Peterson.

My first two days with the car were limited to the short drive to the racetrack or quick drives to downtown Salt Lake for dinner. Salt Lake City is a great place for foodies. The highlight of this trip was HSL (www.hslrestaurant.com), the latest venture by executive chef Briar Handly. The restaurant opened in 2016, has a relaxed vibe and a mostly organic menu. My starter was a snap pea salad with rhubarb. The entrée was halibut with farro porridge and wild arugula pesto and mustard seed. Food so good, eating anything of lesser quality should be a crime. Several of my fellow veteran motorsports photographers and I have adapted this unwritten rule: Tourists eat at chains, travelers eat everywhere else. HSL was full of locals and travelers.

After the final checkered flag fell at UMC, and a short detour to Park City, we headed north to Wyoming. The rear of the Volvo was packed with two of the largest Patagonia rolling duffel bags, a ThinkTank International roller camera bag, a small Vera Bradley duffel bag, my small laptop carry-on and a small daypack. Photographers rarely travel light. My wife’s laptop bag was placed on the floor behind her seat. Still room for 3 more passengers, although a roof rack would be needed for their luggage.

The route to Jackson Hole was a combination of interstate, divided highways, and two-lane roads through small towns. The Volvo’s 115.8 wheelbase, riding on Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season (235/50R-19) tires, and the rear-end premium air suspension (a $1,200.00 option and worth every penny) made this car an absolute pleasure to drive. Whether cruising at 80 mph or opening it up to triple digits, the V90 Cross Country always felt securely planted, stable, comfortable, and predictable.

We arrived in Jackson at 8:45 on Sunday evening, and either by accident or divine intervention, parked directly across the street from the Snake River Grill. Just remember to choose elk or trout and you can’t go wrong. And be sure to order the Eskimo Pie for desert.

I quickly came to the conclusion the only good reasons to come to downtown Jackson were one great restaurant and a couple of topnotch fishing/adventure/outfitter offices. The rest of the town is block after block of souvenir stores, their windows full of stuffed moose and bear, and shelves overflowing with t-shirts. The was not the destination I had in mind. And thankfully, the one I was destined for was just another 30 minutes down the road.

Grand Teton Nation Park is like a cathedral God built for himself. Granite walls touching the clouds. The wind whistling through aspens, and crystal clear rocky streams and waterfalls comprising nature’s choir. An ark’s worth of wildlife, uncaged, free, and easy to see. And happy people greeting each other, their accents from around the globe, and only agendas to experience this slice of heaven and everything in it.

Our entire first day was spent hiking the Cascade Canyon trail, then back down to Observation Point, and finishing with a 2.5-mile route along the Jenny Lake Trail back to our car. Plenty of people on the trail to meet, or with whom to share a story about spotting a bear and her cubs and to taste the seemingly endless supply of huckleberries.

Most of the second day was spent fly fishing on the Snake River. Without a doubt, this was the highlight of the trip for me. Finding our guide, Brian Horn, was simple enough, just a Google search and a few minutes of research made us realize this was the outfit to go with. Its website is www.grandtetonflyfishing.com. Horn is outgoing, enthusiastic, and full of knowledge and patience. A fantastic guide and steward of this land and these waters. He has guided everyone from Curt Gowdy, the former host of “American Sportsman,” to newbies like us, and every level of fishermen in between. After a short lesson in fly casting we were on our way. The day was sunny and crisp, a perfect six hours of drifting down the river, observing ospreys and bald eagles in their natural habitat, and shooting lines. We caught several cutthroat trout; the sheer thrill of landing the first one, briefly holding this beautiful creature in your hands before releasing back to the river, is something I will never forget. I cannot imagine a better way to make a living or connecting with nature. The only word that comes close to describing this day is “spiritual.”

Moose was on the agenda for the balance of the day. The V90 Cross Country was set to Off Road mode as we drove over dirt, loose gravel, and pot-hole strewn roads in the back country searching for these marvelous animals. By no means did these conditions begin to test the Volvo’s off-road capabilities, but did provide a sample of the limited throttle response when driving in this mode. However, with 8.3 inches of ground clearance, this car is not designed for boulder climbing but is probably best suited for maneuvering through the sand to your beach picnic, or picking up the kids at school during a snow storm and getting everyone home safely. Or on this day, taking you to where the moose feed.

For the majority of this trip I used the Eco and Comfort driving modes, resulting in 32.3 mpg on the highway and 26.1 mpg in mixed conditions. The temperature was cool everywhere outside of Salt Lake City, so we drove most of the time without A/C activated.

In addition to the great fuel mileage and impressive ride quality, the Volvo semi-autonomous technology was outstanding. Specifically, the adaptive cruise control was fantastic even in heavy interstate traffic. The auto high beams and active bending headlights were made for driving the dark roads in the national park. The center display, the largest I’ve seen this side of a Tesla, whether using the GPS, adjusting the head-up display, or simply finding a radio station, is a breeze to learn and intuitive.

There is not much not to love about the Volvo V90 Cross Country. Well styled wagons are a welcome change to the ubiquitous, cookie cutter SUV market. The Swedes have created a beautifully crafted option to the seemingly endless supply of alphabet-soup and abacus-themed, especially German, SUV and crossover models.

We woke up early on the third day, packed the car and made the short drive north to Yellowstone National Park. I thought we had beat the crowd, but easily more than 1,000 people were standing in the semi-circle around Old Faithful when we arrived. Twenty minutes later the geyser erupted for a grand total of 75 seconds. Interesting? Yes. But not as impressive as anything I witnessed the previous days in the Tetons. Old Faithful is the “small hands” of attractions. A lot of huffing and puffing, followed by a very anti-climactic performance. The better part of the Yellowstone experience was hiking through this unique and massive volcano.

Soon it was time to head back to Utah. We exited the West Yellowstone gate, sliced through Montana along U.S. 20 W, then picked up I-15 S to Salt Lake City. And as quickly as it began, the trip was over. But what a wonderful short trip it was.

This country’s national-park system is the ultimate in re-gifting. Everyone should go and take someone with them. And encourage others to do the same. You leave a national park as a better person. Perhaps it is simply glimpsing the divine and having some understanding of your place in it. That’s how I felt after a few days in Grand Teton National Park. Humbled. Appreciative. Lessons for a lifetime, memories forever. And of course there was the added bonus of driving a wonderful car there and back, a Swedish gem that delivered the goods to an American treasure.

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New Aero Package Adds 30 Percent More Downforce to 2018 Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2018-volvo-s60-v60-polestar-aero-package/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2018-volvo-s60-v60-polestar-aero-package/#respond Mon, 28 Aug 2017 20:01:30 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1186390 Last year, we got a chance to drive the Polestar versions of Volvo’s S60 and V60. These sporty Swedes were aimed at the Germans’ volume performance models—the Mercedes-AMG C43 and BMW 340i, not the C63 and M3. So while they’re not meant to take on the big dogs of the class, both the wagon and...

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Last year, we got a chance to drive the Polestar versions of Volvo’s S60 and V60. These sporty Swedes were aimed at the Germans’ volume performance models—the Mercedes-AMG C43 and BMW 340i, not the C63 and M3. So while they’re not meant to take on the big dogs of the class, both the wagon and sedan proved an absolute blast on winding roads. For 2018, Polestar promises even more fun thanks to a new aerodynamics package.

Jointly developed with Cyan Racing, Polestar’s motorsports partner, the new package increases downforce a full 30 percent, according to Volvo. It comes with a new splitter, new side skirts, and an extended rear spoiler, all made from carbon fiber. The added downforce from the new aero package reportedly increases both grip and high-speed stability, as well as improving driver feedback and control.

The new Polestar package also includes new glossy black wheels, carbon-fiber side-view mirror caps, and updated upholstery with blue contrast stitching. You can also order a new color called Bursting Blue Metallic.

Power output doesn’t change for 2018, so you still get the same 2.0-liter twin-charged inline-four making 367 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to launch the sedan to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, with the wagon coming in a tenth of a second behind.

If these updates have caught your attention, you better order quickly. Volvo says production will be limited, with Polestar only releasing 1,500 new S60s and V60s. We may be partial to the wagon, but you can’t really go wrong with either. Earlier this year, Volvo announced that Polestar would spin off as its own separate performance brand. The 2018 models are still badged as Volvos, so the rebranding may not happen until the next-gen cars arrive.

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Nine Auto Brands Won’t Attend the Frankfurt Motor Show This Year http://www.automobilemag.com/news/nine-auto-brands-will-skip-frankfurt-motor-show-year/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/nine-auto-brands-will-skip-frankfurt-motor-show-year/#respond Thu, 17 Aug 2017 19:11:05 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1183750 It’s becoming more and more common for automakers to skip the rigmarole of a traditional auto show in favor of debuting vehicles at private events or even the Consumer Electronics Show. And it looks like the Frankfurt Motor Show isn’t immune to this trend. As Automotive News reports, nine auto brands have ducked out of...

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It’s becoming more and more common for automakers to skip the rigmarole of a traditional auto show in favor of debuting vehicles at private events or even the Consumer Electronics Show. And it looks like the Frankfurt Motor Show isn’t immune to this trend.

As Automotive News reports, nine auto brands have ducked out of the Frankfurt show this year. And these brands are significant ones that make up a good chunk of sales in Europe: Alfa Romeo, DS, Fiat, Infiniti, Jeep, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, and Volvo.

Not only do automakers fear going unnoticed among a sea of competitors at an auto show, but it’s also quite a costly venture — one that must be weighed against how many sales you can actually rake in by exhibiting at the event.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is an event that automakers are using to showcase their new vehicles. In contrast to a stuffy auto show, Goodwood is set against a backdrop of historic race cars. “The manufacturers are very keen to find different ways of showing their products and we’ve been part of that change,” Goodwood Festival of Speed organizer and owner of the Goodwood estate Lord March told Automotive News Europe. He also estimates it costs much less to participate in Goodwood than at a large auto show. Renault reportedly spent just $1.3 million at the event this year, or roughly three times less than what it would’ve spent at a major international auto show.

The Frankfurt Motor Show is held biannually, alternating every year with the Paris Motor Show. Last year, some automakers skipped out. Ford declined a stand at the show to focus on tech events like the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Volvo also said “no thanks” and wanted to focus on direct-to-consumer marketing.

Automakers have also decided to create their own buzz. Jaguar has held its own events such as the Jaguar Art of Performance tour, which allows customers in the U.S. and U.K. to drive new vehicles. Ford has also set up “Go Further” events to show new cars to dealers and the media.

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The Wagon Whose Station Cannot be Named http://www.automobilemag.com/news/the-wagon-whose-station-cannot-be-named/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/the-wagon-whose-station-cannot-be-named/#respond Sun, 06 Aug 2017 07:01:41 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1178951 I own a ridiculous number of old cars, and I test new ones almost every day of the year. So I don’t really ever need to buy a new car. But I think about buying new cars almost always. That’s one of the reasons I am qualified to write about them. Even if I only...

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I own a ridiculous number of old cars, and I test new ones almost every day of the year. So I don’t really ever need to buy a new car. But I think about buying new cars almost always. That’s one of the reasons I am qualified to write about them. Even if I only get around to actually buying new cars once in a blue moon, I have strong opinions in this area and consider myself party to many car sales, as an influencer not just of readers but of friends, relations, and pretty much anyone who will listen while I bore on.

So, as I was saying.

For me, perhaps the most exciting part of the 2018 sales season is the return of the station wagon. Of course, this is more of a micro trend than a full-blown renaissance. It is not even arriving through the front door—where I believe this supremely practical genus of vehicle would receive the hale and hearty greeting it deserves—but rather through the tradesman’s entrance. Indeed, there’s sort of an embarrassed, under-the-radar quality to the launch of the new wagons that have most piqued interest lately: Buick’s Regal TourX and Volvo’s V90.

These newcomers join a slender roster of wagons already on sale, reflecting an industry intent on resisting the notion that there exists a segment of the population that willingly accepts the good sense of the wagon format and is prepared to pay for it. There are plenty of other people who think they want SUVs or crossovers who might be persuaded to buy wagons, the way people here used to and still do in Europe, if anyone cared to sell them.

The industry’s anti-wagon prejudice emerged over the last few decades as carmakers established an SUV profit paradigm: adding height seemingly elevates the price people are prepared to pay for cars. But if this is so, it is the industry’s own fault. Much the same way they spent decades selling tailfins and chrome, carmakers have conditioned customers, rele-gating us to the unnecessary weight, height, and uniformly boring styling that define the SUV and crossover genera. Whatever the industry says about listening to the customer, people mostly buy what they’re told to buy.

This wagon deficit is, then, why I celebrate the Jaguar XF Sportbrake and the new generation of Mercedes E-Class wagons while decrying the absence from the U.S. market of the latest C-Class shooting brake. We com-mend BMW for continuing to bring us its fine 3 Series wagon but curse it for reducing choices by refusing to supply our fruited plains with the larger 5 Series hauler anymore. Sorry, but between a 540i wagon and an X5 SUV only one can be an ultimate driving machine, and X doesn’t mark that spot. For its part, Audi won’t sell us its A4 wagon in undiluted form at all, only with a lift kit and a body-cladding upcharge. They call it the Allroad, which is good because I am quite certain it is going to be driven exclusively on pavement.

Volvo ought to have a hit on hand with its airy new V90. But for reasons I can’t fathom, the company will only deign to sell pure wagon versions of its excellent new model online by special order. Dealers will, however, carry plen-tiful supplies of the jacked-up and plastic-clad V90 Cross Country. High marks for hip scarcity marketing, but by design the purer article can only sell so much.

For more of this wagon paranoia in action, see the Regal TourX, a credible, long-awaited, and very welcome return to the carryall fold. Exhibiting the lingering wagonophobia that plagues the sector, Buick is pumping it up Outback style and giving it a crossover name, eschewing entirely the straight-up (nonlifted) version of this lovely Opel wagon sold elsewhere. And that’s not the only reason the TourX might have been born under a bad star.

For one thing, it’s not really a Buick. It’s an Opel, which means soon it won’t even be a GM product. The German brand is being off-loaded to France’s PSA. The shaky French maker of Peugeots and Citroëns thus becomes Europe’s second-largest carmaker while the General reveals another step in its exit strategy from the arduous task of being a global automotive giant. Not fielding a true wagon in America is only par for the course.

So the good news is the wagon is back, sort of. The pendulum has been due to swing back its way for an eternity. Now if only wagonmakers would show them a little love.

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Report Says Polestar Considering a 600-Horsepower Coupe http://www.automobilemag.com/news/report-polestar-plans-600-hp-coupe/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/report-polestar-plans-600-hp-coupe/#respond Fri, 14 Jul 2017 15:30:28 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1175859 Last month Volvo announced that its Polestar division would branch off into its own separate brand dedicated to high-performance electrified vehicles. Now, one report claims that Polestar’s inaugural model will be a 600-hp coupe. According to Autocar, Polestar is considering a 600-hp coupe with a hybrid powertrain and lots of carbon fiber. To achieve that target,...

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Last month Volvo announced that its Polestar division would branch off into its own separate brand dedicated to high-performance electrified vehicles. Now, one report claims that Polestar’s inaugural model will be a 600-hp coupe.

According to Autocar, Polestar is considering a 600-hp coupe with a hybrid powertrain and lots of carbon fiber. To achieve that target, the coupe would need to make quite a bit more power than current models. Recently, Polestar was able to tune the XC60 and XC90 plug-ins to produce about 420 hp, making them the most powerful road-going Volvos ever.

In addition to the coupe, Polestar is looking into the possibility of a second standalone model, although the identity of that car remains unknown. But there are clues that Polestar’s new cars will borrow quite a bit from Volvo’s existing models.

“Polestar will enjoy specific technological and engineering synergies with Volvo Cars and benefit from significant economies of scale as a result of its connection to Volvo,” the automaker said in a statement. “These synergies will allow it to design, develop and build world-beating electrified high-performance cars.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of a 600-hp Polestar car. A year ago, we learned Polestar wanted to bring out 600-hp hybrid versions of the S90 and V90.

Creating its own bespoke vehicle could give Polestar the boost it needs against Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi RS. The high-powered Polestar coupe could debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September.

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Polestar Ramps Up Volvo XC60 to 421 Horsepower http://www.automobilemag.com/news/polestar-ramps-volvo-xc60-421-hp/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/polestar-ramps-volvo-xc60-421-hp/#respond Tue, 11 Jul 2017 00:52:42 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1174983 Polestar has optimized the Volvo XC60 plug-in hybrid to deliver 421 horsepower, making it the most powerful Volvo ever along with the Polestar version of the XC90 plug-in. Despite the extra 21 hp, Polestar says its XC60 plug-in hybrid maintains the same pure electric range as the standard model. To improve performance, Polestar adjusted the engine...

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Polestar has optimized the Volvo XC60 plug-in hybrid to deliver 421 horsepower, making it the most powerful Volvo ever along with the Polestar version of the XC90 plug-in.

Despite the extra 21 hp, Polestar says its XC60 plug-in hybrid maintains the same pure electric range as the standard model. To improve performance, Polestar adjusted the engine for more power and torque in the mid-range. It also made the XC60’s transmission shifts faster and optimized the shift points to enhance mid-range engine performance.

Volvo’s performance partner since 1996 offers a number of optimized Volvos, including the XC60’s stablemates, the S60 and V60. Two years after Volvo bought Polestar Performance, the tuning company announced it would become its own separately branded high-performance company dedicated to electrified vehicles. This announcement came just before Volvo vowed to stop producing vehicles that run only on gasoline, moving toward an electrified future.

The Polestar XC60 plug-in retains the Volvo warranty. Other than the T8 plug-in hybrid model, Polestar offers other high-performance versions of the XC60 around the globe, including the T5 and T6 gas models and D4 and D5 diesel models.

The 2018 Volvo XC60 plug-in hybrid for the U.S. combines a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to an electric motor for a total system output of 400 hp. It goes on sale here this fall.

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Volvo Goes All-Electrified http://www.automobilemag.com/news/volvo-goes-electrified/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/volvo-goes-electrified/#respond Thu, 06 Jul 2017 22:03:53 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1174084 The headline “Volvo Cars to go all electric” is a bit misleading. “Volvo Cars get electrified,” though not nearly as elegant, might be a better way to put it. Between 2019 and 2021, Volvo will launch three standard battery-electric vehicles plus two high-performance Polestar models, which will “be supplemented by a range of petrol and...

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The headline “Volvo Cars to go all electric” is a bit misleading. “Volvo Cars get electrified,” though not nearly as elegant, might be a better way to put it. Between 2019 and 2021, Volvo will launch three standard battery-electric vehicles plus two high-performance Polestar models, which will “be supplemented by a range of petrol and diesel plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid 48-volt options on all models,” CEO Hakan Samuelson said.

Over in Silicon Valley, Volvo’s announcement has helped pull Tesla’s stock down like Wile E. Coyote tied to an anvil, from a high less than two weeks ago of $386.99, to $312.60, as I write this. Tesla’s market cap has once again slipped below General Motors’, with a share value about 13 percent lower than that all-time high from last month. [In CEO Elon Musk’s defense, he once said he didn’t understand why Tesla’s stock was so highly valued, either.]

Tesla’s slide began before the July 4 weekend when a Goldman Sachs analyst slashed the stock’s six-month price target to $180, according to CNBC. Six months from now, according to Musk, Tesla will be building at least 20,000 Model 3s per month on its way to an earlier promise of 500,000 units for calendar year 2018. Musk has yet to identify a second assembly plant to help meet these goals, though rumors of a Chinese production partner, if they come to fruition, could put the fledgling automaker in a similar position as Geely’s Volvo.

Samuelsson’s announcement comes as no surprise to those of us who have been following Volvo’s post-Ford strategy closely. A few years ago, I wrote that Volvo would have to find a new marketing message beyond its decades-old safety image as part of its resurrection.

Pretty much the first thing Volvo did when Ford sold the Swedish company to Geely in 2010 was announce that no new engine would have more than four cylinders, even for its big SUVs and sedans. By now, Volvo has cycled out its V-6 engines, and some upcoming CMA-platform models will be powered by 1.5-liter three-cylinder engines based on its latest-generation 2.0-liter turbo and turbo/supercharged four gas engines, though it’s unclear whether any three-banger Volvos will come to the U.S. market. Diesels, which Volvo continues to sell elsewhere, won’t.

Volvo is sharing the CMA small-car platform with Geely’s new brand, Lynk & Co, which could sell the three-bangers in the U.S. some time in the future.

All these new SPA-platform (S60 and larger) and CMA models have been designed from the get-go to accommodate optional hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains, and the longitudinal-engine-like dash-to-axle proportions of the Volvo XC90, S90, and V90 make room for hybrid-electric hardware to fit between their transverse-mounted engines and firewalls.

Now, Volvo can claim that electrification will be standard, not an option, beginning little more than one U.S. model year away. Electrification at Volvo also means 48-volt “mild hybrid” systems, which already have hit the French roads in the new Renault Scenic and Grand Scenic. Other automakers, mostly those with large luxury models, will be joining the switch to 48 volts about the same time as Volvo, but Samuelsson’s company gets the glory for announcing it first, and thus by being first to claim (after Tesla, anyway) that everything soon will be electrified.

Major automakers will begin switching to 48 volts by the end of the decade because the systems can boost fuel efficiency by 20 percent. This would be a chief tool in helping automakers reach the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards imposed by the Obama administration, and the Trump administration’s more automotive-friendly position on the standards won’t trigger retrenchment on this technology, though it could mean automakers take longer to add 48-volt systems to cheaper high-volume models. The investments already are there. Volvo’s advantage is that its commitment to no- or low-emissions, and higher fuel-efficiency models begun after Geely’s purchase now is paying off with a full slate of new models at precisely the right time. Who can blame them for making a big deal about it now?

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All Volvos Will Have an Electric Motor by 2019 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/every-volvo-will-electric-motor-2019/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/every-volvo-will-electric-motor-2019/#respond Wed, 05 Jul 2017 16:42:48 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1173665 It won’t be long before Volvo stops offering pure gasoline-powered cars. By 2019, the automaker will only launch EVs, hybrids, and mild hybrid vehicles. “This is about the customer,” said Volvo Cars CEO Håkan Samuelsson in a release. “People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs.” Moving...

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It won’t be long before Volvo stops offering pure gasoline-powered cars. By 2019, the automaker will only launch EVs, hybrids, and mild hybrid vehicles.

“This is about the customer,” said Volvo Cars CEO Håkan Samuelsson in a release. “People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs.”

Moving away from a lineup dominated by pure gas and diesel cars represents a big change for the automaker, which hasn’t yet launched a fully electric vehicle. To make up for lost time, Volvo will introduce five EVs between 2019 and 2021, three of which will be Volvo models and two of which are destined for the high-performance Polestar brand. Although we don’t know much else about Volvo’s plans, we do know the first Volvo EV goes on sale in 2019 and will sit on the Compact Modular Architecture designed for electrification.

In addition to five EVs, Volvo will offer a range of gas and diesel plug-in hybrids throughout the lineup. Mild hybrid cars will also be available, although the timeline surrounding the introduction of these vehicles is unclear.

By 2025, Volvo plans to have sold a cumulative total of 1 million electrified vehicles, just one of the automaker’s ambitious goals for the coming decade. With the help of new autonomous driving features, the automaker vows to end all deaths and serious injuries in its vehicles by 2020.

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