Auto blogThu, 03 Apr 2014 14:58:00 EST
The Volvo S60 Polestar may not seem like a natural fit for the V8 Supercars series that runs throughout Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania. After all, the all-wheel-drive production-spec car isn't even available with a V8. But the rear-wheel-drive racing version has acquitted itself well in the early races of the season, even scoring an overall win at a race in Melbourne. Currently at seventh place in the championship, the S60 the most successful car that isn't a Holden or Ford.
To celebrate its burgeoning success, Volvo sent its V8 Supercars drivers Robert Dahlgren and Scott McLaughlin to home base in Sweden to have some fun driving in the snow and to visit Polestar headquarters. The two of them do some big power slides on an icy lake and then taker a deeper look into the company's performance division. Scroll down to watch the video full of sliding Swedish sedans.
Volvo is improving the luxury offered by the XC60 and S80 with upgrades to both models' Inscription packages for 2015. It is also making all of its models (other than the soon-to-be-replaced XC90) available with its new Drive-E engine family and Sensus infotainment system.
The Inscription package was previously available on both the XC60 and S80, but new upgrades include Sovereign Hide leather throughout their interiors, including on their instrument panels, seatbacks, center armrests and headrests. Inscription also adds wood inlaid trim and new floor mats. On the outside, the package is offered in Crystal White Pearl, Electric Silver and - exclusively for the S80 - Ember Black. The XC60 comes with 20-inch, ten-spoke wheels, and the S80 receives 19-inch wheels of the same design.
As part of its sponsorship of a yacht race, Volvo is also bringing the XC60 Ocean Race Edition to the US. Buyers will get their choice of black or blonde leather seats with orange stitching, a map of the race route on the rear load cover and the event's logo around the car.
The current, long-serving Volvo XC90 might not be going away as soon as we thought - at least not in China. According to word from CarNewsChina, the crossover's production will be moved to Daqing, China, in December and from that point on, be built at Geely's factory. The only available engine will be a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder.
According to the report, the present XC90 and the imminent next-generation model will both be sold in the market, but the Chinese-made vehicle will be positioned as a cheaper alternative. Geely will also develop a crossover of its own from the platform that should be ready in late 2015.
Volvo plans to launch the new XC90 later this year to replace the aging model, which has been on the market for over a decade. It will ride on the company's new Scaleable Product Architecture platform and will be powered by the automaker's new Drive-E four-cylinder engine family. Hybrid versions will also be available.
The Volvo Concept Estate garnered Autoblog's Editors' Choice award as our team's favorite reveal at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show earlier this month for its sleek take on Scandinavian design, and now it looks like we might actually see the sleek wagon in production. Volvo is reportedly considering using the concept as the basis for a replacement for the V70 wagon, dubbing the new model V90.
It's rumored to be part of the Swedish brand's plan to launch a new range of 90-series vehicles. In addition to the more luxury-oriented wagon, the family of models includes the XC90 that is expected to debut later this year. According to MotorAuthority, Volvo is also considering using the same version of its Scalable Product Architecture that underpins the crossover to create a range-topping S90 sedan to replace the S80. Assuming it's a success, a C90 coupe is even a possibility. All of these models would be outfitted with the company's Drive-E four-cylinder engine family, which includes hybrids and plug-in hybrids.
The Swedish automaker is also looking downmarket with help from owner Geely in China with replacement 40-series models. According to MotorAuthority, the duo's rumored small car platform will be used to create an updated V40 wagon, C40 hatchback (a C30 successor), as well as an XC40 compact crossover.
After decades of cat-and-mouse battle waged between Holden and Ford, Australia's V8 Supercars series has expanded considerably. Mercedes and Nissan both joined the grid last season, and Volvo has followed suit this year. So when 2014 championship kicked off earlier this month in Adelaide, everyone was watching to see who would come out on top.
The answer is Holden, which took first place in all three of the weekend's races. In fact the General Motors division locked out the podium in the first and third races and took first and third places in the second race, letting just one other manufacturer onto the podium the entire weekend - and that was Volvo. The Polestar S60 scored second place on its first race weekend, beating all the Nissan Altimas, the Mercedes E63 AMGs, the Ford Falcons and most of the Holden Commodores.
Now that's hardly winning the championship, but it's a very solid debut. And that point was not lost on the people back at headquarters in Sweden, who are already thinking about making a roadgoing version of the race-spec V8 Supercar.
Apple's CarPlay infotainment system hasn't made it into a single vehicle yet, and it's already drawing criticism for distracting drivers among safety advocates. The new tech unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show pairs users' iPhones with the car's dashboard display to make calls, dictate messages and listen to music. Some automakers, like Volvo, also let users interact with the HVAC system from the screen.
"The idea that people want to be on their phones, and therefore let's give them a way to do that -- that's not putting safety first, that's putting convenience and the desire to be in touch first," said Bruce Hamilton, manager of research and communications at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, to CNN Money.
Distracted driving is a huge concern on modern roads with more vehicles allowing drivers to use their smartphones through Bluetooth and infotainment systems. A Texas A&M study found that drivers' reaction time doubled while dictating text messages, according to CNN Money. The new tech is certainly not making drivers pay more attention.
You're looking at the third leg of Volvo's award-winning concept trilogy, the Concept Estate. Despite its banal name, this sweeping longroof showcar has our attention like few other cars at the Geneva Motor Show.
It's not just that we have a weakness for shooting brakes or Volvo's take on the genre in particular (we can see some P1800ES in this design). We just think this car is exceptionally well surfaced, with a fantastic stance and the sort of clean lines that are singularly appropriate of a Scandinavian design. We also appreciate the details that are expected to inform future production models, including the T-shaped headlamps, strong rear shoulders and floating grille mount. In fact, the vast majority of the Concept Estate's design idiom is expected to make it to showrooms in future models, starting with the long-overdue, second-generation XC90 crossover.
We hope - but don't expect - that attitude carries over to the interior, which has stunning, white leather, floating clamshell seats backed in plaid. If there's one cabin feature that's expected to make it to production, it's a derivative of the car's new infotainment system, which features a massive touchscreen with tablet-like gesture controls.
Apple unveiled its new CarPlay touchscreen infotainment system earlier today, and Volvo has just released a video showing the system in action. The Cupertino tech giant is expected to announce partnerships with Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz to license CarPlay, as well, at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show and will be working with even more manufacturers in the future.
The system pairs the driver's iPhone with the car's infotainment system and seamlessly allows them use the smart phone's functions and, at least in Volvo's demonstration, the car's climate control and seat heating systems. According to the video, the new system will be available "in the coming generation Volvo cars," which likely means the upcoming, next-generation Volvo XC90.
However, the system will not work universally. Apple will add functionality through an update to iOS 7 in the future for the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S. At launch other devices won't be supported. Scroll down to watch CarPlay work. We are expecting more details to emerge on the new infotainment system when the Swiss show opens tomorrow.
Apple, maker of tech items like the iPhone, iPad and Mac line of computers, is extending its reach into the automotive market, making a fairly big announcement ahead of the Geneva Motor Show. No, it hasn't bought Tesla (yet). Instead, Apple has announced CarPlay, an all-new means of controlling an iPhone through your car.
Now, this doesn't strike us as some gimmicky thing. It's become increasingly common for automakers to take advantage of the high-speed data streams its customers enjoy on their smartphones in order to integrate navigation, traffic, audio and other infotainment items into a car's touchscreen interface. The Chevrolet Spark and Sonic are two prime examples of this move, using an iPhone's data stream for Siri integration and data for a third-party navigation app.
Owners will be able to plug in their iPhones to their cars via the USB port and gain control of a number of the device's functions, all through a car's touchscreen.
Take a close look at the cabin of the Volvo Concept Estate shown above. One of the big features on the fancy, brown shooting brake is an all-new user interface called, well, it doesn't really have a name, at least not one Volvo is revealing.
The refreshingly nameless system looks seriously impressive based on the short video that accompany's the system's press release. The jewel of the whole interface is a sizable touchscreen that manages most every in-car function save for a few vital functions like volume, hazard lights and other systems that still demand a more tactile interface.
"The basic idea is to organize controls and information in a perfectly intuitive and user- friendly way. Everything is exactly where you expect it to be, making the drive more enjoyable, efficient, and safe," Thomas Ingenlath, Volvo's Senior Vice President of Design, said in a statement.