Volvo V60 D5 2011 Review

May 27th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Volvo station wagons reached a point when they achieved such a high level of safety and practicality than they became a bit of a cliché on wheels. The boxy-back shape had evolved to perfection for packing in gangs of children and wet Labradors. It was also an ultimately dependable machine that would keep moving forward in even the harshest climates. But someone told Volvo that these virtues just weren’t enough, they wanted sharp dynamics and even sharper styling. Could Volvo respond with a new excitement-injected wagon while still keeping its diehard family-focused fans content? The Swedish carmaker decided to find out with its new midsize V60 sport wagon. Car and SUV played Dad for a week to discover more.

The ‘boxy but good’ persona has been vacated with the V60, the good part remains, but the boxy, well that’s history. While Volvo’s curvaceous SUVs have been around for some time now the V60 represents a revolution in design for its station wagon body shape. At the front, it’s a carbon copy of its S60 sedan sibling with a lightly creased bonnet dipping into a corporate grille and purposeful dual headlights. Along the sides, the V60 cuts a mean profile with a flowing full-length shoulder line and a glasshouse that tapers away. With blackened-out pillars and a gradually sloping roof the V60 has a long, low coupe-like look but it’s at the back where the new design language is heard loudest. With hints of the C30 hatch the rear is framed by stretched vertical tail lamps a roof-mounted spoiler and a chunky bumper. A broad rear windscreen helps with visibility and the tailgate opening is as wide as the design allows. Our tested mid-spec V60 D5 model was finished with 17-inch alloys, integrated roof rails and dual exhaust tips. Aesthetically, the V60 has the look of a true sports wagon, it’s progressive and acts as a rolling public service announcement that buying a Volvo wagon can now be a decision based on visual appeal. Continue reading “Volvo V60 D5 2011 Review” »

Volvo S60 T6 2011 Review

May 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Recently, to prove Volvo is no longer a maker of safety obsessed, vanilla vehicles, pro race driver Jonny Reid lapped Hampton Downs in the new S60 T6 sedan. Big deal you might say. Well he did do it blindfolded (click here to view video).  Some may see this stunt as little more than a cheap promotional trick, but it illustrates the redefining new direction the Swedish carmaker has taken. An awareness, pride and continuation of Volvo’s safety innovations remain but the new top-spec S60 T6 has been given eye-catching, flowing design, serious power output and sporting dynamics. Car and SUV wasn’t given a blindfold, or time on a racetrack but did get a drive in the very same S60 T6 that lapped Hampton Downs. Here are the results.

Volvo’s solid and boxy design language is now almost fully extinct and the S60 shows more curves than a hip-hop video. A dipping front end with two-piece headlights and a broad signature grille give the S60 a modern and distinctive face. A steeply raked windscreen and coupe-like roofline define its low-slung profile. At the back end, wrap around taillights and a subtle boot lid spoiler are features. Contrasting hard plastic cladding is used to good effect on the S60’s lower edges, this helps give it genuine sporty appeal. It also combines with the widened rear panels and high boot deck to create an athletic stance. Like a sprinter paused in their blocks the S60 looks alert, muscular and dynamic. Other signals of go-fast intent include 7-spoke 18-inch alloys and dual, integrated exhaust tips. Any aesthetic concessions aren’t required in owning a new S60. Particularly in T6 form, it’s a sexy machine and Volvo has achieved it without resorting to more generic styling, it’s distinctive but still clear in its origins.

In the cabin, the coupe theme continues with a cosseting sports-inspired atmosphere. A high centre armrest dissects driver and shotgun passenger with all switchgear placed close to hand. The build quality has a bulletproof feel and the materials are mainly high-grade with the exception of some harder plastics. There is a luxury feel in the S60 cabin and while it can’t quite match pricier European brands it’s a step up from more direct Japanese competitors. The waterfall control stack is a highlight being finished in brushed metal and housing the majority of buttons and dials. A recessed 7-inch screen displays all main information in full colour and is positioned high for easy checking on the fly. The control system interface isn’t immediately intuitive but with regular use drivers will learn its ways. The instrumentation is Spartan but effectively designed with two large dials surrounding digital displays that offer vehicle information. Phone, cruise and audio buttons are housed in a thick leather-wrapped steering wheel. Continue reading “Volvo S60 T6 2011 Review” »

Chicks dig BMW 5-Series and Citroen DS3 – it’s official

April 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Many men spend time wondering what exactly is the best car to own if you want to impress the ladies. A Kermit green Series 2 Mazda RX-7 may have done the trick twenty five years ago, but in 2011 women are more impressed by style, economy and practicality. So if you want to win some points pick up your date in a BMW 5-Series or a Citroen DS3.

Because us men were never going to uncover these important results ourselves a crack team of woman motoring writers from around the globe recently held the annual Women’s World Car of the Year for 2011. The voting finished so close that the supreme award produced a dead heat between the BMW 5 Series and the Citroen DS3. So gents, if you’re on a budget go for French style in the DS3, if your cashed-up, then spring for the current 5-Series BMW and don’t cheapen out of the leather trim.

Category winners and runners up in the competition included:

Family Car Winner  – Volvo S60
Runner up – Kia Sportage

Sports Car Winner – Aston Martin Rapide
Runner up – Audi TT

Luxury Car Winner - BMW 5 Series
Runner up – Jaguar XJ

Economical Car Winner - Citroen DS3
Runner up – Mini One Diesel Continue reading “Chicks dig BMW 5-Series and Citroen DS3 – it’s official” »

Volvo gives S60 street cred with cool art session (+video)

April 4th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Volvo has given its new S60 sports sedan some street cred by lending one, as a canvas, to a whole bunch of Swiss street artists. Ten street artist groups painted and sprayed the snow-white Volvo S60 over a five day period at Zurich’s main railway station.

The all-white Volvo S60 was positioned in front of a white canvas for the artists to go to work on it. During that time, over 35,000 commuters rushed by while the ten crews of Swiss street artists painted and repainted the S60 and canvas.

During this live art happening, a high-end camera shot pictures every 10 seconds. The results are impressive with one artist cleverly using the time-lapse photography to create  a stop-motion styled animation. After the final painting, all the photographs were compiled into a three-minute long video which can be viewed below.

“Our intentions with this art project, was to express and emphasize in a creative and innovative way the design of the Volvo S60″, says Anouk Poelmann, President of Volvo Cars Switzerland.

Watching the final 3-minute video below reveals the steady flow of artistic repainting and also shows the ten very different cars that is actually only one. Continue reading “Volvo gives S60 street cred with cool art session (+video)” »

Volvo conducts extreme cold testing on C30 EV (+video)

March 30th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Volvo has decided to address one of the biggest concerns for electric cars – how batteries behave in extreme cold weather.

The Sweedish carmaker is currently testing its C30 EV in Kiruna, Sweden (north of the arctic circle) in temperatures of around minus 20 degrees Celsius to see if the car’s batteries can maintain their power in the cold while the car’s heating systems keeps the passengers warm in the cabin. Sounds simple? Well it’s not really.

“We must ensure that the C30 Electric performs as intended when driving, parking and charging in a variety of conditions, from normal to very cold or hot,” says Volvo Cars’ director of special vehicles, Lennart Stegland.

The Volvo C30 EV is a clever machine and comes equipped with three climate systems. The first system heats or cools the battery pack as required to maintain its performance and the car’s range. The electric motor and electronics use a water-cooling system. But it all gets even smarter in the cabin where Volvo has fitted a bio-ethanol heater with a 14.5 litre tank so that the process of heating the cabin doesn’t drain energy from the battery and affect the C30 EV’s range. If there’s a problem the cabin climate system can also be run off the battery through a driver controlled function.

After the testing Volvo is confident that the C30 EV can maintain a driving range of around 80 km even in extreme cold weather conditions.

Check out a video of the Volvo C30 EV cold weather testing below.

Continue reading “Volvo conducts extreme cold testing on C30 EV (+video)” »

2011 Volvo V60 – First Drive

March 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The all-new Volvo V60 wagon was officially released into the NZ market with a launch event held in Auckland.

Well known for its safety innovations, Volvo is set to continue that trend with the V60 but is throwing other virtues into the mix. Shapely design, sharp on-road dynamics and powerful engines are all features of the new 2011 V60 range which comes with high expectations for the team at Volvo Cars NZ.

According to General Manager, Steve Kenchington, “The all-new V60 provides a great opportunity for us.  Volvo has always been strong with wagons in New Zealand and with the striking styling, the performance and safety package we hope to attract new buyers to our sports wagon as well as retain our existing customers.”

‘This is an extremely important new car for us,’ Kenchington added. ‘With its standout style, exceptional on-road abilities, outstanding passenger comfort and the very latest Volvo safety technology it sets new standards in New Zealand’s premium mid-size segment.”

The three model V60 range goes on sale this month to complement the similar engined S60 sedan which arrived just before Christmas. After a media presentation Car and SUV was given some seat time with each of the three models in the new line up.

The range consists of the entry-spec V60 T5 (four cylinder turbocharged petrol engined) priced at $67,990, with the mid-range V60 D5 AWD (Turbo diesel All Wheel Drive) at $75,990 and the flagship V60 T6 AWD (Turbo petrol All Wheel Drive) at $83,990. Continue reading “2011 Volvo V60 – First Drive” »

Volvo reveals Ocean Race special editions

March 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

What was once the Whitbread Round the World yacht race has become the Volvo Ocean Race and to celebrate its sponsorship of this yachting event Volvo is releasing special edition models.

The nautical themed Volvos will only be on sale in Europe with the V60, XC60 and XC70 all receiving treatment. The cars will be available to order starting in April, with the first deliveries expected to take place in July.

Engine options are yet to be announced, but the cars will have special interiors in sail-reminiscent off-black or beige, and the seatbacks will come embossed with the Volvo Ocean Race logo. Two special exterior colors will also be available, called “Volvo Ocean Blue II” and “Electric Silver.”

The special logos don’t stop with the seats, the door panels and cargo covers also get the Ocean Race treatment, with special script and stitching. Finishing off the package is a set of sail-inspired floor mats. If you want to feel the wind in your face while driving you’re special Volvo the windows go down and you can stick your head outside.

Volvo is expecting to sell about 7,500 of the special editions per year, targeting England, Germany and Italy especially. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet. Continue reading “Volvo reveals Ocean Race special editions” »

Volvo to debut V60 diesel hybrid at Geneva Show

February 23rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

There’s often serious debate over what’s best in the current automotive climate – diesels or hybrids? But now Volvo may have found an answer to this problem but offering both options in one vehicle. The Swedish automaker is storming into Geneva with what it’s calling “the world’s first diesel plug-in hybrid”.

Housed inside the handsome V60 wagon, the diesel hybrid has two distinct drivetrains that can operate separately or in tandem with each another. Sitting under the bonnet is a 2.4-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel with 160kW and 438Nm of torque, while a 70-horsepower electric motor with a 12-kWh lithium-ion battery pack turns the Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD).

Through dashboard-mounted buttons, the V60 hybrid can operate in ‘Pure’ mode as a fully electric vehicle with a 51km range. In Hybrid mode, it emits less than 50 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer and has an impressive with a 1200km range. If you’re not in a green mood then there is a Power mode that turns the powerplant into a boosted torque monster with and will take the V60 to 100kph in just 6.9-seconds sprint. While that won’t trouble many sports wagons, for a diesel hybrid it’s a rapid figure. Continue reading “Volvo to debut V60 diesel hybrid at Geneva Show” »