Fresh-faced automotive brand Lynk & CO began selling its first vehicle in China about two months ago. But it has bigger aspirations than procuring a place in Asia’s largest market — it wants to achieve global domination through westerly expansion and is now preparing to take its first steps.
While the goal seems unrealistic for a fledgeling automaker producing only one model, the brand has friends in high places. Volvo Cars, which is also owned by Geely Automotive, may be tapped to assist Lynk in Europe by offering its factory in Belgium and opening up its servicing infrastructure. If so, that would set a precedent for a Volvo-based support network that could eventually extend to North America.
Recall the days all those years ago (probably over a century for some of you), as the time approached for you to start driving. Some of you may have been prescribed a vehicle by the gift of a generous or perhaps spiteful relative. Others received a set stipend from the Bank of Parentus, while the rest worked at a low-end job to scrape up funds for an automotive purchase.
Today, we want to know what your aspirations were at the time; which vehicles did you desire and shop for as your first car?
3.1 inches, and 4,529 miles. These two dimensions are what make this Volvo unique. If you’re not hip to the lingo, the “Inscription” label on this car has nothing to do with a scribbled authors’ note on the front page of a favorite book. Inscription means, oddly, an extended wheelbase. 3.1 inches, to be precise.
4,529 miles? That’s a bit more straightforward. This long-wheelbase Volvo S60 is built in a market where that extra rear passenger space is valued above all else: Chengdu, China – over four thousand miles away from the ancestral Volvo home in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Do these figures matter? Is the Sichuan-made S60 a credible competitor, or will the point of final assembly scare too many shoppers away?
It wasn’t the elegant S90 sedan or oddly seductive V90 wagon that heralded Volvo’s return to the top of its game — it was the earlier XC90 SUV, specifically the upright and self-assured second-generation model.
Now that it’s no longer the newest vehicle in the stable (thanks to a product surge fueled by Chinese dollars, it’s quickly becoming the oldest), the XC90 enters 2018 with an extra dose of value.
Back in 2015, Volvo Cars reiterated that it would test hundreds of autonomous vehicles in the United Kingdom, Sweden, and China by 2018 as part of its Drive Me project. Using cars equipped with advanced autonomous technology, the initiative hoped to help Volvo understand how customers interact with self-driving cars.
However, the automaker appears to have tweaked that plan in a recent press release. Instead of families helping Volvo test new autonomous vehicles, they’ll help develop them by cruising around in well-equipped XC90s. While we can’t cry foul too loudly, Volvo has used highly suggestive language for the last few years. It previously claimed it would have “death-proof” cars on the road by 2020 and alluded to Drive Me using fully autonomous test vehicles — not commercially available models.
Many years ago, a friend of mine married the daughter of a local real estate kingpin. She was loud and large and her taste, as they say, was all in her mouth. She had her father’s friends build her a massive McMansion encased in beige stucco and filled to the brim with the latest furniture from Pottery Barn and gold-plated bathroom fixtures. She was a big believer in retail therapy.
I would go to their house and see dozens of freshly stuffed shopping bags from the local semi-upscale stores. Prada, Coach, Ann Taylor, the kind of stuff you find in the mall. It was all “Designed In California” or “Designed In Italy” or plastered with the name of a city: Donna Karan New York. But there was always a tag somewhere out of sight that said, “Made In China.” Almost without exception, it was ephemeral garbage, meant to be worn a few times then thrown away. The pleasure was 90 percent in the purchasing and 10 percent in the ownership.
So now we have this 2018 Volvo S90. Designed In Sweden, with a svelte, tasteful, proportional shape that makes the big barges from Benz and BMW look like ’99 Navigators by contrast. It’s a study in minimalist luxury, powered by a tiny engine and self-consciously focused on a low-consumption aesthetic yet possessed of enough backseat space to carry the King of Siam. As you will see below, it’s often delightful, frequently gratifying, and always respectable.
There’s just one little problem. The website might talk about “Scandinavian Design,” but just like everything you see at the outlet stores, the 2018 Volvo S90 T5 AWD is Made In China.
Building on a strategic partnership announced in August last year, Volvo has signed a framework agreement with Uber to sell “tens of thousands” of autonomous driving compatible base vehicles between 2019 and 2021.
While reading the report, it was important for this author to keep in mind the challenge in affixing an actual definition to the words autonomous driving. There have been shouty voices in various parts of the internet disputing the terms autonomous, Autopilot, and self-driving. There is merit to these arguments.
Nevertheless, Volvo is working with Uber to create technology that will allow vehicles to move about without a driver providing input 100 percent of the time.
Two new models are entering the [s]not[/s] hot wagon market in North America. While one wagon entry is aimed squarely at the near-luxury market, the other aims higher and challenges established luxury wagons.
Our question today is this: Will either of the models work?
Through the end of September 2017, Americans have registered 13 times more Volvo V90 CCs than Volvo V90s, clarifying with purchasing habits what every auto industry observer, casual or professional, already knew.
Volvo’s surely not surprised, either. After all, if you want to acquire a low-slung Volvo V90, Volvo forces U.S. customers to actually order the car. (Perish the thought.)
Even less surprising is the frequency with which Volvo now sells wagons. Combined, the four V60 and V90 variants account for fewer than one-in-10 Volvo USA sales through the first three-quarters of 2017.
By nature, we’re skeptics. It’s in the job description.
Thus, while it’s hard not to fall in love with the idea of Volvo’s new 2020 Polestar 1 offspring — I mean, just look at it — we also know how hard it is to kickstart a new luxury brand, regardless of whether Polestar wants to sit far outside the luxury mainstream or right at the heart of the matter. We can’t help but wonder whether the Polestar 1 is not representative of the ideal luxury brand launch.
As doubters, as pessimists, as cynics, as preternatural killjoys, as wary realists, we have questions about this new upstart premium automotive entity. Many questions.
There’s something missing from the efficiently named Polestar 1, the first production vehicle unveiled by the world’s newest car brand: a Volvo badge.
Anyone who’s ever seen Volvo’s 2013 Concept Coupe will surely recognize the similarities between the two vehicles, but the slinky personal luxury coupe seen here is the one you’ll actually see plying a roadway near you, if you’re so lucky. Polestar, once a performance arm of Volvo Cars but now its own standalone subsidiary, plans a range of high-end electrified performance vehicles, of which the Polestar 1 is merely the first.
Packing a 600-horsepower plug-in hybrid powertrain and a body to die for, the 2+2 grand tourer makes great use of its sister division’s architecture, all paid for by corporate overlord Geely. The obvious similarities to the Volvo S90 isn’t an accident, as a bespoke version of that model’s platform lurks beneath its curvaceous flanks. However, that isn’t to say the Polestar 1 is just a Volvo in disguise.
Polestar said goodbye to Volvo Cars over the internet this week. While we like what Polestar does, the social media posting is a slightly sanctimonious. The brand will undoubtedly continue to use Volvo cars as a base for all of its upcoming builds and persist under the same corporate umbrella. It would be a bit like AMG wishing Mercedes-Benz a fond farewell in 2005 and then continuing to use its vehicles.
They’re technically separate entities but both AMG and Polestar exist as a result of the core brand and operate under the watchful eye of a much larger company — Daimler for AMG and Geely for Polestar. The only difference is that the Swedish performance arm is, like Volvo, focusing on electrification for added power while the Germans continue with rip-roaring internal combustion powerplants without even a hint of EV adoption.
Just kidding. Mercedes-AMG’s director of vehicle development, Drummond Jacoy, already confirmed the brand has to “reinvent” itself when it comes to electric cars, promising mild-hybrid applications last Janurary.
Reports last week that Geely-owned Volvo would double its investment in Berkeley County, South Carolina, were confirmed today by the Swedish automaker. Volvo’s investment rises to $1.1 billion, the employee count is expected to climb to 4,000, and the Charleston plant will build not one but two Volvo models.
Volvo announced its intention to build its South Carolina plant in May 2015. The first vehicles, set to be third-generation Volvo S60s, will begin rolling off the assembly line in the fall of 2018, just one year from now. By 2021, Volvo revealed today, the company will also be assembling its flagship SUV, the XC90, in South Carolina.
Surprised? Of course not.
Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture is turning out to be a little sexier than one might have imagined. With the arrival of the XC40 we were expecting something akin to a baby X90, but we ended up getting a better-looking Range Rover Evoque. It’s certainly reminiscent of its bigger brothers, yet possesses an individual sense of style that Volvo claims will make its way into other models using the CMA platform.
All of this style is likely to come at the expensive of rearward visibility. We haven’t sat behind the wheel of a XC40 but we can already tell you that bulky C-pillar is probably going to get in the way from time to time. That said, it looks so good that it’s difficult to truly fault it — especially when the small SUV is fitted with a black or white contrasting roof.
Offsetting the chic styling is a modest amount of plastic cladding along the bottom of the vehicle. This ought to provide some necessary protection for urban owners forced to park close to banged-up models with drivers less inclined to appreciate the XC40’s unibody beauty.
Volvo continues to look forward to real U.S. sales recovery, meeting the goal of record U.S. sales volume by 2020, and a fourth consecutive year of record global sales. To get there, Volvo is already altering plans at the Charleston, South Carolina, assembly plant where construction is already in full swing.
Altering? According to Reuters and Charleston’s Post and Courier, it’s more like deciding that the plant should be twice as large, build twice as many vehicles, house more than twice as many employees, and cost twice as much.
Volvo has lofty expectations for its presence in the U.S. luxury car market, but the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker is going to rely on a new boss to dramatically elevate the brand’s U.S. volume over the next three years.
Lex Kerssemakers, a Dutchman who’s been in charge of Volvo’s North American region for nearly three years, is being shuffled into the equivalent position as Volvo Cars’ senior vice president for Europe, Middle East, and Africa. It’s essentially a straight-up trade: Anders Gustaffson moves over from his role as senior vice president for Europe/Middle East/Africa to inherit Kerssemakers old job, according to Automotive News.
The new boss overseeing Volvo’s U.S. operations brings a retail-oriented perspective, having held his first job as a 14-year-old at his parents’ Volvo dealer in Sweden. Anders Gustaffson also held a role as CEO of Hertz in Sweden and was the leader of Volvo in its home market, as well.
Gustaffson’s predecessor —also his successor — hasn’t shied away from placing a large amount of pressure on Gustaffson’s shoulders. Through the first seven months of 2017, Volvo’s U.S. sales are down 9 percent, diving three times faster than the industry at large. Yet according to Kerssemakers, “Volvo should sell 150,000 vehicles a year in the U.S. [by 2020],” Automotive News reports.
That’s an 80-percent jump in the next three years. Get to work, Mr. Gustafsson.
Volvo Canada flew me and other automotive journalists to Denver, Colorado to drive the all new 2018 Volvo XC60. The XC60 is Volvo’s latest participation to the current compact luxury crossover boom, one in which it aims at upping its current market share from 3.9 percent to seven.
Full disclosure: Volvo wanted us to drive the XC60, so they flew us to Denver to do so.
It comes as no surprise that the XC60’s crosshairs are aimed directly at established German rivals such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLC. Except, this Volvo has a special weapon up its sleeve: a 400-hp, plug-in hybrid T8 version. During my drive throughout the picturesque Colorado countryside, I had the opportunity to get plenty of seat time between both T8 and T6 versions, which not only differentiate themselves by their claimed power figures and efficiency, but also by their entirely different driving dynamics.
Volvo, once solely known for making sensible and safe Swedish bricks constructed primarily of bridge girders, has lately been building some fantastic-looking machinery. Witness the fabulous crimson longroof pictured above.
When Ford sold Volvo Cars to the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in 2009, I feared the company would be pillaged and plundered for its intellectual properties, with the skeleton of its former self hung out to dry behind the woodshed. As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Volvo is better than ever.
There’s no denying the Volvo 40.1 concept that previewed this fall’s production XC40 appears both to be sufficiently Volvo-like and sufficiently unlike anything else.
If the actual Volvo XC40 maintains this relatively unusual design, Volvo will have a viable, eye-catching alternative to the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Infiniti QX30, and Mercedes-Benz GLA before most luxury auto brands.
As for the Q3, X1, QX30, and GLA, Volvo isn’t entirely sold on their merits.
Volvo wants you to reconsider your hauling needs.
Sure, crossovers are a hot commodity these days, coveted for their available cargo space and all-weather capability, but Volvo — despite selling a pair of lofty crossovers itself — believes you should ditch the SUV in favor of a car. And that car is the Volvo V90.
What we have here is an attractively styled, stretched five-door Scandinavian hatchback that carries Volvo’s renowned wagon legacy confidently into the future. It’s a car that places emphasis on driving dynamics and safety first, but won’t let you down if you have a family, a few pets, and some gear to haul around over the weekend.
The 2018 Volvo V90 was brought to this world to elbow the crossover in the throat.
Not only is Volvo updating its aged XC60 crossover for the 2018 model year, it’s also turning up the heat. The handsome next-generation model will gain a Polestar-tuned T8 variant, Volvo’s performance arm has announced, meaning XC60 buyers will have a fourth output choice to select from this fall.
As you’ll recall, Polestar isn’t just a specialty house tasked with tuning Volvo products anymore. The Swedish automaker recently spun off Polestar into its own brand, with the tuning division rebranded as Polestar Engineered. It’s the latter entity that’s tasked with massaging 421 horsepower out of the top-flight hybrid version of the XC60.
However, now that Polestar is in the business of building its own standalone models, crossovers and sedans just won’t cut it. For its first Polestar-badged model, the new automaker wants a big, fast coupe.
Volvo has been pushing “non-traditional” powertrains for a while. The company, encouraged heavily by its Chinese owner, has already begun moving toward limiting engine options in the very near future while focusing heavily on electrification. In 2014, the brand said all of its cars would be offered with a plug-in hybrid variant to supplement purely gas-powered models. Now it’s taking things further, setting a definitive timeline for the shift and stating that every new model after 2019 will be a hybrid or purely battery-driven vehicle.
“This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson explained in an official statement on Wednesday. “Volvo Cars has stated that it plans to have sold a total of 1 million electrified cars by 2025. When we said it we meant it. This is how we are going to do it.”
Who knew strange animals born with a sack stuck to their bellies would prove to be the largest hurdle in the advent of driverless vehicles? In areas where you’ll find marsupials, anyway.
While North American drivers have long grown used to smacking deer with their personal vehicles, it’s a different story in the land of Paul Hogan, Nicole Kidman, and the amiable fellow from Jurassic Park. A full 80 percent of vehicle-animal collisions on that extremely large island and/or continent involve a kangaroo. It now seems the manner in which the limber creatures get around has created a headache for a certain Scandinavian car company — one hoping to lead the industry in hands-off driving.
Think of it as a green brand known for producing some very blue cars. Polestar, Volvo’s performance wing, will be spun off into an electrified automaker under a new plan from the Swedish car manufacturer.
Expected to do battle with the likes of Tesla and BMW’s i sub-brand, future Polestars — like their gasoline-powered predecessors — will stake out space in the performance arena, only this time in a different niche.
Daring. Thinking outside the box, as it were (a three box, naturally). Putting forth a car which is a bit risky and against the grain of the accepted beige [s]sedan[/s] CUV. Increasingly, automakers are unwilling or unable to play in this space. Regulations, fuel economy and stiff competition force each manufacturer in line with the others. A midsize vehicle that’s almost identical to the offering at the dealer across the street is not out of the question.
But there has to be an answer to my Question of the Day, which is thus: Which modern auto manufacturer is the most daring?
With the stately S90 sedan and V90 wagon out of the way, Volvo’s main focus falls on the upcoming S40 and XC40 compact sedan and crossover. In the middle ground, the Swedish automaker has already unveiled the handsomely redesigned 2018 XC60.
Will it stop there? Not according to Volvo Car USA’s president and CEO.
Last night, Volvo released a teaser video for a new vehicle it labeled as its “smallest coupe ever,” and I can’t help but feel that its marketing department dropped the ball on the timing.
The video introduces it as an ultra-modern, limited edition representative of a model specifically aimed at the next generation of consumers. Then, Volvo hinted that it might even be autonomous, and I assumed this was some wild concept vehicle never to enter production — but Volvo is already building it.
Of course, I felt like a moron when the big reveal finally came.
Uber’s infamously embattled autonomous car division took another hit Saturday after one of its self-driving Volvo XC90 test cars was involved in an accident in Tempe, Arizona. The technology company has since halted the pilot program, parking its self driving fleets in Arizona, Pittsburgh and San Francisco until further notice.
Volvo denies that it wants to return to publicly listed status, but a new round of fundraising has many believing the Swedish automaker is about to end its 20-year absence from the stock market.
According to the Financial Times, the Geely-owned company hopes to raise about $500 million from a new batch of preference shares. Unlike the last time it held out its hat, this time Volvo wants Chinese buy-in.
Though its debut will lag that of Chevrolet’s Bolt and the Tesla Model 3, Volvo’s first entry into the world of all-electric vehicles looks to be right on par with the current generation’s maximum range and requisite financial investment. Starting between $35,000 and $40,000 when it debuts in 2019, the Swedish EV should be capable of at least 250 miles between charges.
Away from the main stage of the Geneva International Motor Show, CEO of Volvo America Lex Kerssemakers indicated to journalists that the standards set by the Bolt would be the benchmark. “That’s what I put in as the prerequisite for the United States,” Kerssemakers said. “If I want to make a point in the United States, if I want to make volumes, that’s what I believe I need.”
When the Volvo XC60 first entered the premium compact CUV market, the world was still fully in the grip of a financial crisis, Twitter was relatively new, and America was transitioning from its 43rd to 44th president.
Despite enjoying remarkably stable sales from its solid entry in the wildly competitive segment, Volvo clearly felt it was time for a change. And what better strategy exists besides emulating the model’s critically acclaimed bigger brother, the XC90?
The answer: none. Fully made over, the second-generation 2018 Volvo XC60 revealed today at the Geneva Motor Show borrows some of the XC90’s best hardware and design cues, resulting in a strikingly handsome and grown-up crossover.
Volvo has officially revealed pricing for its newest wagon, the V90.
Available in two trims, the V90 R-Design will start at $49,950, while Inscription will start at $51,950.
Both come standard with Volvo’s T5 turbocharged four-cylinder, which sends 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. A more powerful T6 four-cylinder, fed with turbocharged and supercharged air, will be available as a $6,000 option. Those models send 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels as standard.
After surviving a very rough patch that could have easily sunk it for good, Volvo is feeling confident enough to be boastful, albeit in a restrained, Scandinavian way.
The Swedish automaker is riding high after posting record worldwide sales last year, and its CEO claims the groundwork is in place to have that trend continue in 2017 and beyond. Part of that optimism lies in a South Carolina plant expected to come online in 2018.
While the Berkeley County plant will be home to the next-generation S60 sedan, a second promised model is no clearer now than when shovels broke ground in 2015.
I’m always on the lookout for small-production figure, special-edition cars during my junkyard explorations, and we have admired such classics as the Etienne Aigner Volkswagen Golf and the Daytona 500 Pace Car Pontiac Grand Prix in past installments of the Junkyard Find series.
Today, we’re moving into the 21st century, for a genuine, numbers-matching, one-of-650-made 2002 Volvo Ocean Race Edition V70 Cross Country, spotted in that hotbed of nautical action: Denver.
A few years after Alexander Graham Bell beat Elisha Gray in patenting the telephone, someone conceptualized the telephonoscope and the world became bedeviled by the notion of seeing someone while you conversed remotely. Video phones appeared in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), Jay Roach’s timeless classic Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), and just about everywhere in between. They even cropped up in real life. AT&T tested the waters in the 1920s by pairing mechanical television receivers to telephones before blowing half a billion dollars on the Picturephone a few decades later.
Things are different today. You can easily bring up any number of applications on your hand-held device and video chat with people from practically anywhere on the planet. However, we never really got a dedicated video phone in our cars, creating a compellingly retro-futuristic need for such a thing.
Then Volvo announced that it was adding Skype for Business to its 90 Series cars and I began imagining a universe where I would notify besuited men — face-to-face — that I did not have anymore time to talk because I was much too busy driving. It was a perfect fantasy where I told nervous industrialists which robots should build the smaller robots and who to fire all from the comfort of my mobile office — and while looking them right in their terrified eyes.
Volvo has only recently started exhuming itself from its post-recession sales hole and pushing its disastrous fling with Ford into the past. Turning a corner, the company has sold over 470,000 cars so far this year, aided largely by the successes of its XC90 SUV. Operating earnings having tripled in the first half of this year.
Now, the company has raised 5 billion Swedish crowns — $532 million — from the sale of newly-issued preference shares to a group of Swedish institutional investors.
All signs point to a confident company that wants back into the stock market.
Uber proudly released a fleet of eleven driverless Volvos onto the streets of San Francisco Wednesday morning and one or two immediately started running amok. One person tweeted about seeing a self-driving vehicle nearly hitting another car, while another posted a video showing an autonomous tech-equipped XC90 breezing through a red light and active pedestrian cross-walk.
Before the end of the program’s first day, people were clamoring for Uber to explain the incidents and the California Department of Motor Vehicles had sent the ride-hailing company a cease and desist letter for operating without a permit.
Volvo has named Henrik Green as its new head of researching and development, replacing Peter Mertens, who was usurped by Audi in November.
Green, 43, entered Volvo’s executive branch in October as the senior vice president of sales, production planning, and customer service. Volvo says the vacant position, which was created for Green specifically, will be filled eventually. With Mertens gone, Volvo is depending upon Green to implement plug-in hybrid drivetrains throughout the company’s fleet and develop an autonomous vehicle by 2021.
Do you remember the last Volvo commercial you saw? Or any Volvo commercial?
If the answer is “no,” you clearly haven’t seen the videos offered up by Volvo Trucks, which somehow manage to make 18-wheelers seem as alluring as a two-seat droptop. By staging stunts that compel viewers to seek out a heavy truck license, the company’s online videos have given the truck maker a strong media presence and plenty of word of mouth.
It’s too bad that Volvo Cars (long since snatched from under the Volvo Group corporate umbrella) can’t do the same thing.
Toyota’s going to market the new Prius Prime with laser-like precision. Is it because they want to embrace cutting-edge advertising methods, or is it because they don’t see it as a vehicle with particularly broad appeal?
That, BMW thinks it might want to keep an unpopular model around for another generation, Volvo issues a voluntary recall on seat belts, and Toyota and Nissan agree that their prospects have looked better in North America… after the break!
Ford is offering a new turnkey GT4 series racecar, meaning ‘Stang owners can now race on a track instead of just strip mall parking lots.
That, Volvo is moving S90 production east, a Texas woman is suing Honda and Takata for almost fatally spraying her with bits of her own car, and Mopar is letting you refresh old cars with new Hemis with a lot less hassle… after the break!
First it was Hyundai flinging special discounts in the direction of imminently carless Volkswagen diesel owners. Now Volvo has added its name to the list of automakers attempting to woo this unique crop of vehicular nomads.
The approval of Volkswagen’s massive settlement deal with U.S. owners and environmental regulators on Tuesday is apparently a sales opportunity not to be missed, but Volvo is approaching it from a different direction than Hyundai.
Forget Chevrolet’s cringe-inducing launch of the first-generation Spark — this could be the biggest hipster Millennial marketing/branding effort to date.
Naturally, it’s for an affordable car brand, but with a difference: this brand is completely new and its products have yet to be revealed. Lynk & Co, a new subsidiary of Volvo parent company Geely, launches on October 20, Reuters reports, and it’s clear it wants to be every free-spirited young adult’s first car.
What a difference a lift makes.
Always the purveyors of something different, Sweden’s Volvo Car Corporation has officially lifted the veil on its newest product — a lifted, all-terrain version of its elegant V90 wagon.
Just don’t call it a crossover. It’s a Cross Country.
Volvo is determined to make a splash in the U.S. small car market when the next-generation 40-series cars arrive, and it’s already laying the groundwork.
The Swedish automaker filed a trademark application for the V40 name on August 31, paving the way for a five-door hatch that will ride atop the company’s new compact modular architecture (CMA).
Volvo is partnering with ride-hailing service Uber, a $300 million deal expected to spawn a fleet of self-driving vehicles on U.S. roads.
Both companies plan to develop their own autonomous technology using a Volvo “base” vehicle, but Pittsburgh will see a crop of self-driving Swedes by the end of the year, Automotive News reports.
There are upsides to autonomous driving, but Volvo drivers are still made of flesh, with blood pumping though their veins.
Unlike that hazy group of people who lose their minds with excitement at the thought of always being a passenger in their own car, the Swedish automaker isn’t about to take away the act of driving from its customers.
Volvo set a corporate high-water mark for speed today by launching two new Polestar models, each with enough power to make a tenured Vermont professor blush.
Dropping two cylinders while gaining 22 horsepower, the upgraded S60 and V60 Polestars are part of Volvo’s effort to boost the visibility of its performance division.
The 2.0-liter Drive-E four-cylinder in the S60 and V60 Polestar (replacing the previous blown straight six) was worked over by Polestar engineers to make 367 horsepower and 347 pounds-feet of torque. The mill, which makes 240 horsepower in T5 models, gains muscle from a supercharger, larger turbocharger and air intake, and a higher-capacity fuel pump.
How is it that there are still sufficient Volvo 140 s left, more than 40 years after production of the original Swedish brick ceased, that you’ll still find plenty of them in American wrecking yards? Not in the quantities you’ll find of their 240 descendants, of course, but anybody driving a 140 today should have no problem getting parts.
The Volvo 140 was the first of the beloved brick-shaped Swedes. It was built for the 1967 through 1975 model years, and it served as the basis for the legendary 240. I owned one, briefly, and found it was a very competent machine for its era. These cars are not worth big money today, unless they’re in excellent cosmetic shape, so the ones that stay on the street tend to do so because their owners can keep them running for cheap.
No? Never mind.
Following up the SUV is a new large luxury sedan, the S90, sharing much with the big truck.
(There once was a time when CUVs were developed from sedans. What a world we live in.)
Forget waiting until 12:30 p.m. Eastern for the official reveal, here’s the new Volvo S90 right here in all its glory.
In addition to everything we’ve already known: Thor’s Hammer headlights, large 9-inch touchscreen, Pilot Assist semiautonomous driving and twin-charged four cylinder engine (with plug-in hybrid coming later), the S90 will get large animal detection as part of its City Safe features.
The moose of Gothenburg fear no more.
Volvo’s newest concept car is so advanced it doesn’t need sheet metal, wheels, doors, headlights or even an engine, man.
The Volvo Concept 26, unveiled Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show, is the company’s vision for autonomous driving — which, at least publicly, it’s beating many of the big boys to the punch. The vision apparently includes a center-mounted tablet and an automatic 26-inch screen that emerges from the friggin’ dash.
I understand the logic behind the modern crossover, especially in Sweden.
Sweden’s 360,000 mile network of public and private roads is only 30-percent paved. That leaves some 252,000 miles of unpaved glory to explore. This high percentage of unpaved roads explains why Volvos have long had reasonable ground clearance, why the Swedes invented the headlamp wiper, why the XC70 exists and why Haldex was founded there.
The concept of the crossover is to give you the efficiency of a traditional “car” blended with some offroad ability normally found in a truck-based SUV. (Of course, the modern American crossover is little more than an all-wheel-drive minivan with less practical seats.) While other companies created boxy crossovers like the Highlander and CR-V, Volvo took a European approach by starting with a station wagon, adding all-wheel drive and jacking the ride height up to create the first V70 Cross Country. The result was more aerodynamic than an SUV, had the ride height of a crossover, the practicality of a station wagon and the driving position of a car. Hold that thought.
Car companies should know better than to send detailed drawings of unreleased cars to Chinese toymakers.
Because they don’t, here is the new Volvo V90 wagon in toy-car form. The wagon, which appeared on CarNewsChina, appears to take several cues from our newly favorite Swedish car, the XC90.
The wagon sports headlights from the XC90 as well as the front fascia from Alex Dykes’ favorite new car.
Sometimes you get it right. Sometimes you get it wrong. And sometimes you get it so wrong we all figure you were just playing a practical joke.
Elevated wagons can be successful. Just look at the outrageous success of the Subaru Outback or the staying power of Volvo’s own XC70. Elevated sedans? Consumers aren’t really into the concept. Thus, after selling 50 copies of the S60 Cross Country in its abbreviated launch month of August, Volvo USA sold only 29 S60 Cross Countrys in September, one for every 1.7 states in the union.
That’s not a lot, a fact made all the more clear when you consider that Volvo sold 1,182 copies of the XC90 in September alone. Because sometimes you get it right.
Many of you have asked why we bother to review a car we’ve already reviewed based on a few hours at a launch event. The all-new 2016 Volvo XC90 is a textbook example of why more time with a car allows for a more complete review.
At launch events, you have no time to perform acceleration or brake tests of a vehicle (and, of course, you aren’t testing the car on the same circuit that the rest of the cars have been tested upon) and you have no ability to drive the competition back-to-back to get a sense of comparison. There is a reason that first drive reviews tend to be fact based: it’s hard to review a car in a vacuum.
So why is the XC90 a textbook example? Because of my own biases. Biases are interesting things. They can blind you to a car’s faults, or they can lead you to overcompensate and find fault.
After digesting my time with the XC90, I started falling into the latter camp. Edmunds 0-60 tested the XC90 and found it slower than expected. I started wondering if I had been wearing rose-colored glasses and asked myself: “Was it really that good?” Therefore, I had to get my hand on one again so I could run it through our battery of tests and drive it on my own for a week to find the answer.
The answer: It is better.
Automotive News Europe reported that Volvo will offer a new compact crossover, based on a new architecture, in 2018 that will likely be called the XC40.
The crossover will be built in Ghent, Belgium and possibly in China, using the same platform being developed for compact cars in Europe.
The crossover will get Volvo power plants that include a hybrid variant. It would also likely get some sort of semi-autonomous driving feature as the Swedish automaker further develops its technology.