Volvo Amazon – the start of a tradition

February 17th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

At the time of its launch – 17 February 1962 – the Volvo Amazon was described by the company as “a comfortable and elegant five-door sedan with extra load capacity and many more practical features.”

The Amazon began a long line of car based Volvo estates, or station wagons, which continues unbroken to today’s V50, V60 and V70s.

In 1962 for the family with children, the more modern Amazon made life much easier, the travelling salesman could travel in more style and the craftsman got much better access to the luggage compartment through the rear doors and the split tailgate.

“The new estate is a new Volvo model, for which the existing components of the Amazon have been used to the largest possible degree. The result is a fast and roomy passenger car with an extremely good load capacity. Four doors and a split tailgate enhance the positive character just as the design, the quality, the road manners and the overall economy. The aim has been to create a spacious family car for long-distance travelling and leisure needs – a functional car which can also be used professionally. It is called the Volvo 221 Amazon.”

This is the 1962 description which – except for the tailgate – also characterises a 2012 Volvo station wagon.

In true Volvo fashion the fact that the passenger compartment could be turned into a sleeping compartment was also highlighted. But the word comfort was mentioned before the word luggage compartment since the Amazon was the first Volvo estate based on a passenger car rather than a delivery van with a separate frame like the Duett.

The Volvo team had worked both cleverly and cost-effectively. The elegant lines of the Amazon sedan had been retained and transferred in an elegant and efficient way to the estate. The roomy rear section of the body had been done without altering the exterior dimensions.

Halfway along the long roof, at B-pillar height, there was a reinforcement pressing to maintain rigidity. The upper sections of the rear doors were straight and followed the roof line, only the window frames had been re-designed. The doors themselves were the same as those on the four-door version. The rear section of the body was supported by a box-section sub frame and the rear suspension had been modified and lowered in order to make the luggage compartment floor as low as possible.

The tailgate was horizontally split in two. In the lower half, the number plate holder rested on hinges which meant that it folded down and became visible from behind when the lower part was open. In this folded position, the gate was supported by the flat and rubber-clad upper parts of the bumper over riders which also served as footsteps when reaching up to the roof rack.

The luggage compartment was 183 cm long and 126 cm across with the rear seat folded down. Load capacity was 490 kg. Performance, drive and ride properties were equal to those of the sedan version and that the estate body was efficient in terms of drag was illustrated by the fact that it topped over 140 km/h with a 75 hp single-carburettor engine and a weight of 1250 kg.

The introduction colour mist green – with upholstery in a combination of brown fabric and vinyl – was only available during the first year. The sportiness was later underlined with the letter ‘S’ for cars with twin-carburettor engines.

Just like other Amazons, the estate remained virtually unchanged design wise except for minor trim details over the years, but technically it benefitted from Volvo developments. In 1964, the front wheel drum brakes were replaced with power assisted disc brakes and the seats were vastly improved. 1968 saw the introduction of a collapsible steering column and engine power rose to 115 hp in the most powerful version. Furthermore, the first exhaust emission control system was introduced on US market cars.

In 1969 the B20 engine replaced the faithful B18 and during the same year, the model went out of production after just over 73,000 cars had been produced. The Volvo 145 had been introduced the year before and was offered in two versions. It was yet another step forward: more modern, more comfortable and even safer.

The Amazon estate was a car that found customers in all parts of society. As opposed to many other cars on the market, it did not reveal anything about its owner’s social status or prestige, just that he or she was very sensible and practical when it came to the choice of car.

Mint condition Amazon estates are difficult to find as estate cars in general lead a harder life than sedans. Most frequent are cars from 1965 to 1967, but they are still uncommon since relatively few were built. Real fine examples are rarely sold and always fetch more than the sedans, except for the 123 GT. In the Volvo Museum the last estate built, chassis number 73220 is displayed. It is dark blue and left the factory on October 15, 1969.

Volvo S60 T5 R-Design 2012 Review

February 8th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

We spent a very pleasant week which included a jaunt to Ruapuke and back for a Waitangi weekend camping trip. This was a great test for the Volvo – plenty of motorway driving, followed by some twisty blacktop and then gravel, all while laden down with the accoutrements of spending a couple of nights under canvas without decent toilet facilities.

The S60 T5 R-Design sits in a kind of middle ground between family sedan and luxury sports sedan. You could look at it two ways: it’s a safe and practical option for a sporty sedan, or it’s a car that stuck between those two markets and might not be big enough to be a family sedan or sporty enough to make your hairs stand on end.

It’s a Volvo so that means it comes with the aura of safety that is almost uniquely Volvo’s to emanate. That means it’s probably not going to appeal to young, affluent execs. No, despite the R-Design pack which gives you a sports-tuned chassis, a new grille and mirrors, a set of sports seats, floor mats, some stunning 5-spoke alloys, sat-nav and flashier gear knob, instruments and steering wheel, this is going to be a car which is bought by people who appreciate the sleek design and punchy overtaking power, but want it tempered with an air of sensibility and impregnable safety. Perhaps there’s a child, but no longer a ‘significant other’; perhaps it’s the need for an attractive corporate ride that’s a bit of a sleeper; perhaps it’s a couple whose children have flown the coupe [sic] so back seats are a mere convenience and not a necessity; perhaps they really just like Volvos but want something more exciting with better handling than an XC. Continue reading “Volvo S60 T5 R-Design 2012 Review” »

Volvo XC60 – more equipment – better value

January 18th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Volvo’s XC60 luxury SUV has added more standard equipment across the range to provide a better value for money package in 2012.

The XC60 model line-up has been changed for MY12. Some previous option packages have been deleted and new models have been added with revised equipment.

The R Design models – a D5 AWD and a T6 AWD – now become the flagship version of each engine choice. R Design models are now based on the Teknik version and incorporate all the extra equipment the Teknik models have as well, not just the cosmetic and chassis changes they did in MY11.

The XC60 range comprises 4 models and three engine choices. The new front wheel drive T5 model opens the line-up and is priced from $69,990.

The MY12 XC60 now boasts a reversing camera standard across the range. All XC60 models now also have the convenience of a power-operated tailgate as standard equipment.

High performance multimedia is now standard in the T5, T6 and D5 models which replaces the CD player with DVD readability, increases the screen size from 5 inches to 7 inches while the T6 gains Premium Sound with 12 speakers and Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound. The Bluetooth has been updated to include audio streaming.

As part of the XC60 updates the R Design models gain Volvo’s Blind Spot Information System as standard. This system alerts the driver if there is a car in the blind spot by way of a light on the side mirrors.

Continue reading “Volvo XC60 – more equipment – better value” »

Volvo’s petrol plug-in hybrid

January 10th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Volvo will unveil an innovative petrol plug-in hybrid XC60 at the Detroit Auto Show later this month. It is an electric car, a highly economical hybrid and a powerful high-performance car all rolled into one.

At the touch of a button, the driver decides how the available power from the combination of the high-performance petrol engine and the electric motor is to be utilized.

“The technology in the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is as ingenious as it is unique,” says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo. “You can make really green progress on the road without compromising on any of the luxury car’s renowned properties. No other manufacturer has succeeded in delivering fuel economy and electrical range on this level in a capable, spacious performance car with 262 kWs on tap.”

The same concept in the Volvo V60 plug in diesel hybrid goes on sale in Europe later this year and subject to further evaluation could be seen in New Zealand some time in 2013.

Volvo expects to introduce the plug in petrol hybrid technology to North America, which prefers petrol to diesel, in 2014 although it may be in a different car to the XC60 Concept on show in Detroit this month.

The driver chooses the driving mode via three buttons on the instrument panel. The buttons give the car three distinct temperaments: Pure, Hybrid or Power.

In Pure mode the car is powered solely by its electric motor as much as possible. The operational range is around 50 kms.

Hybrid mode is the standard setting whenever the car is started. The gasoline engine and electric motor cooperate to provide minimum environmental impact. According to the European certification driving cycle NEDC, CO2 emissions are 53 g/km with 2.3 litres/100 kms fuel economy. The car has a total operating range of up to 960 kms.

In Power mode, the technology is optimized to create maximum possible power and 580 Nm of torque. The electric motor’s instant torque delivery contributes to the car’s acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds.

The front wheels of the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept are powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine from the forthcoming VEA (Volvo Environmental Architecture) engine family. This engine produces 210 kWs and maximum torque of 380 Nm. Power delivery to the wheels comes via a newly developed eight-speed automatic transmission.

“In the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept we demonstrate that our forthcoming four-cylinder engines offer the same high performance as today’s sixes. At the same time, their fuel consumption will be lower than in current four-cylinder engines,” says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research & Development at Volvo.

The concept car carries a “T8″ badge, which emphasizes the combined 262 kWs of the high-performance four-cylinder engine and the electric motor. This moves the car into territory previously occupied solely by eight-cylinder engines or turbo sixes.

Fuel economy with the new VEA modular motor is improved by up to 35 percent compared to engines with similar performance. Modularity and compact transverse design are also ideal for future electrification developments.

The engine in the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept has no conventional starter motor or alternator. Instead, there is an Integrated Starter motor and Generator (ISG) connected to the crankshaft, which is located between the engine and the transmission. The ISG is capable of delivering an extra 34 kWs during acceleration. It also charges the battery during braking.

The rear axle of the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is driven by an electric motor producing 53 kWs. It is supplied with power from a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack installed under the floor of the load compartment.

The battery pack is recharged from a regular power outlet, at home or at a parking place. Recharging time varies with the current. If 220V is available a full charge with 12A takes just 3.5 hours.

The electric four-wheel drive in the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is activated by pressing the AWD button. Instead of the mechanical power transfer of conventional four-wheel drive, the central control unit distributes power between the gasoline-driven front wheels and the electrically driven rear axle.

The electric four-wheel drive system has been designed to provide better traction when starting and when driving on slippery roads.

The driver can choose to save battery power for later in order to drive on pure electricity later on, for example, an urban green zone or in the heart of a city. When Save is activated, the generator charges and tops up the battery pack if necessary.

Volvo putting plug-in hybrid V60 on sale next year

October 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Volvo is preparing to put its V60 Plug-in Hybrid diesel car on sale in European markets from next year.

The Plug-in Hybrid has been built in close cooperation between Volvo Car Corporation and Swedish energy supplier Vattenfall.

“No industry or organisation can tackle the climate challenge all by itself. It is our mission to develop carbon dioxide-lean cars, but it is the society that is responsible for creating a sustainable future,” says Stefan Jacoby, the President and CEO of Volvo. “This project shows how cooperation between experts in different areas brings us closer to the transition from individually carbon dioxide-lean products to a climate-smart lifestyle.”

When powered solely by electricity, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid has a range of up to 50 kilometres. Continue reading “Volvo putting plug-in hybrid V60 on sale next year” »

Volvo to use only three- and four-cylinder engines by 2020

September 23rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Volvo has made a formal commitment to lowering the fuel consumption on every vehicle in its range. How is it going to do it? By eliminating any engine that has more than four cylinders.

It sounds very simple, the Swedish automaker will drop out any five- and six-cylinder engines from its range over the next 10 years. Overall fuel economy figures and C02 emissions will drop and Volvo will earn a reputation as an environmentally conscious car maker. The key to this new initiative comes with the introduction of new three- and four-cylinder powerplants in both gasoline and diesel form.

The new engine family is called Volvo Environmental Architecture (VEA), and the new powertrains will be around 90kg lighter than Volvo’s current engines. In addition to the weight savings, the new engines will improve fuel economy by 35 percent. That’s a serious advancement and Volvo is saying that this is possible without a reduction in performance. Continue reading “Volvo to use only three- and four-cylinder engines by 2020” »

Volvo Australia reveals S60 ‘Performance Project’

July 6th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Volvo is continuing its sporty aspirations with a new S60 prototype developed in collaboration with Polestar Racing and tuning company Heico. The one-off S60 is named the “Performance Project” and is based on the T6 R-Design.

Volvo’s Australian unit is responsible has built the special prototype that sees performance and cosmetic upgrades. Power has been increased to 242KW with 480Nm of torque an increase of 18kW and 40Nm of the standard vehicle. This was achieved by a revised ECU and a new exhaust system. The suspension has been reworked and lowered by 15 millimeters with monotube damping and stiffer springs. To help dress it up the go-fast Volvo is fitted with 19-inch alloys wrapped in Pirelli rubber. Continue reading “Volvo Australia reveals S60 ‘Performance Project’” »

Volvo’s iconic 850 celebrates its 20th birthday

June 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Volvo’s ‘boxy but good’ 850 model celebrates its 20th birthday this month and to mark the occasion Volvo has issued a press release reminding us how innovative and important this model really was.

In 1990 the 850 was developed with some genuine world firsts in a production vehicle like having its gearbox fitted alongside the engine and using a new type of multilink axle called the Delta Link. Naturally there was some new safety tech as well; a side impact protection system SIPS was rolled out and height-adjustable safety belts were also included.

The 850 went on to be more than just a popular family hauler and by 1994 was entered into the British Touring Car Championship in station wagon form. When the rules changed in ’95 and ’96 the Swedish company reverted to a sedan model and won 13 races and finished third in the championship both years. But it would be the racing wagon or ‘flying brick’ that has gone on to become a motorsport icon.

Volvo’s 850 is certainly a more interesting family car than most, to read more on its history view Volvo’s press release below. Continue reading “Volvo’s iconic 850 celebrates its 20th birthday” »