Auto blogTue, 18 Nov 2014
In many ways the 2016 Volvo XC90 defines the future of the Swedish brand. The SUV is the introduction of the company's Scalable Product Architecture modular platform that should underpin most of its future models. It's also the first big chance to see whether consumers accept a model like this that's only available with four-cylinder power, granted a mill that is both turbocharged and supercharged. The configurator for this Swedish hopeful is just hitting the Web giving customers a chance to see what they think.
The only available powertrain on the XC90 at the moment is the 2.0-liter Drive-E with 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The base price starts at $48,900, plus $925 for destination, but that number can balloon quite quickly. Upgrading to the R-Design package tacks on $4,000 or the even plusher Inscription package adds $5,600.
Furthermore, there are several option packages to add some extra tech and comfort to the SUV. The Vision Package with a backup cam is an extra $1,600, two versions of the Climate package to keep occupants warm come to $1,050 and $1,950, respectively, and the Convenience Package that includes adaptive cruise control adds $2,000. Depending on trim, there are up to 13 colors available in an attractive variety, although all but two add $550 to the price. There are also a wide variety of leather upholsteries to choose from.
Volvo is furthering its deep ties in China by announcing a major expansion to its factory in Daqing that will equip the site to build its future S90 sedan. The automaker is promising to make the plant, "one of the most advanced car making facilities in China," according to its press release. Unfortunately, the company isn't specifying the amount being invested or how long the work will take.
Because the northeastern Chinese city of Daqing owns about 37 percent of the automaker, the location for the significant expansion isn't entirely surprising, especially since Geely owns a majority stake in the Swedish brand. The existing factory there employs about 700 people to build the original XC90 for the local market, but the upgrades will allow the plant to handle Volvo's Scalable Product Architecture modular platform.
To be fair, Volvo doesn't specifically call out the S80-replacing S90 by name in its announcement. However, it promises the first vehicle built in Daqing after the expansion will be a new premium sedan, and the upgrades will allow the plant to make "most innovative vehicles in its product range," and the range-topping sedan is widely expected to adopt the S90 moniker.
Volvo Trucks thinks that its latest FH semi truck has a little sports car DNA mixed in with the ability to haul heavy loads thanks to its novel dual-clutch gearbox. And the company's marketing department certainly has an intriguing strategy to get the word out about the big rig's sporty traits. First, it staged a prank on an unsuspecting valet on the Italian Riviera, and now the FH has lined up a track battle around the Knutstorp racetrack against Sweden's ultimate supercar - a Koenigsegg One:1.
Fifth Gear host Tiff Needell takes the reins of the big Volvo and spends a little bit of time talking up its I-Shift Dual Clutch gearbox. However, the real fun is seeing the FH taking on the One:1. Of course, a head-to-head battle would hardly be fair against these extremely mismatched opponents. Instead, the challenge is for the 1,360-horsepower Koenigsegg to lap the track twice in the same time or less than the semi can do it once.
You just have to watch the video to see how if the big rig rises to the challenge. Also, scroll down to read Volvo Truck's press release touting the new gearbox, and check out the company's YouTube channel for more views of the race and a behind-the-scenes look.
Every three years, a half dozen or so teams of sailors embark on an epic eight-month, round-the-world sailboat race formerly called the Whitbread Round the World Race and known since 2001 as the Volvo Ocean Race. This year's event started a month ago in Alicante, Spain, and will end next June at the Swedish automaker's hometown of Gothenburg. And to mark the occasion, just as it has in years past, Volvo has launched a special edition of one of its roadgoing models.
The Volvo Ocean Race XC60 was launched this weekend at the Miami Auto Show. Based on the XC60 crossover we know well, the limited edition is distinguished by its Ocean Blue II paintjob, unique 18-inch wheels, a choice of black or light leather interior with orange stitching and a series of special badges inside and out.
Buyers will be able to choose between the T6 Drive-E and T6 AWD models, priced from $42,100 and $43,600 respectively. That represents a $1,200 premium over models on which they're based, on top of which, Volvo has confirmed in correspondence with Autoblog, the usual $925 destination charge applies.
I must have been around Bar Mitzvah age when I was in the back of my parents' car on the highway as we passed a truck full of Volvo 850 T-5R wagons - half of them in black, half in banana yellow. It was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen: a whole gaggle of sleeper power wagons that were infinitely cooler than whatever minivan we were riding in. Hard to believe that was 20 years ago, but it was. And Polestar is understandably keen to mark the anniversary of the first overt Volvo performance wagon.
While Volvo's racing partner hasn't released some commemorative edition to celebrate that prototypical sleeper, it has shot a special batch of photos of the T-5R (based on the 850 wagon internally known as the 855 for its five doors) alongside its modern successor, the V60 Polestar. The images shot in Huntington Beach, CA, only go to show how much has changed in the two decades that separate them.
Whereas this front-drive T-5R packed a turbocharged inline-five driving 240 horsepower through a four-speed automatic propel the yellow box to 62 in 7.0 seconds, the turbo six in the svelter, Rebel Blue-clad 2015 V60 Polestar churns out 350 hp to all four wheels through a six-speed auto for a 4.9-second sprint. That's the kind of progress we can get behind. In fact, it's the sort of progress that everyone can get behind, really, because chances are whatever you're driving will probably have a hard time keeping up.
Volvo is bringing a model to the Los Angeles Auto Show that isn't afraid to get a little dirty. The Swedish automaker will finally unveil its V60 Cross Country crossover, and it has confirmed that the model will be available in North American markets shortly.
The Cross Country takes Volvo's standard V60 compact wagon and injects a little more off-road capability and visual flavor into the platform. US and Canadian models will arrive with Volvo's 250-horsepower, five-cylinder engine with a standard automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The company says the powertrain should get around 23 miles per gallon fuel economy on the combined cycle.
To be ready to go just a little bit off the beaten path, the suspension sits about 2.6-inches higher than the regular version. The body is also equipped with skid plates in the front and rear, side scuff plates, fender extensions and exhaust outlets integrated into the rear bumper. Hill Descent Control will also augment capability, as well.
Volvo is getting serious about emerging from the fringes and into the mainstream of the luxury automobile market. But if it's going to challenge the Germans, it's going to need a performance line. And that's just what it's developing with Polestar.
Building on the motorsport partnership that has seen Polestar represent Volvo in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship, World Touring Car Championship and V8 Supercars series, Polestar has been charged with developing road-going performance Volvos as well. It currently offers comprehensively tuned versions of the S60 and V60, as well as engine upgrades for other models, but the latest word has it that Polestar will turn its attention next to tuning Volvo crossovers like the XC60 and the new XC90, pictured above in top-spec R-Design trim.
Details on how Volvo would modify those models remain to be determined, but it wouldn't be much of a stretch to imagine the XC60 outfitted with similar enhancements to those offered on its sedan and wagon stablemates to mount a challenge to the Audi SQ5. As for the larger XC90, it seems Volvo is already squeezing as much out of its new 2.0-liter triple-charged inline-four as it can, but more aggressive handling, aero and brakes could stand to transform the flagship crossover in pursuit of performance utes like the Mercedes ML63 AMG and BMW X5 M, even if it couldn't quite match their impressive horsepower outputs.
Tue, 07 Oct 2014
The expansion of the factory is part of an $11-billion investment Volvo's Chinese owners, Geely, are making.
Volvo Cars is adding 1,300 new jobs and ramping up production at its factory in Gothenburg, Sweden, in response to increased consumer demand for its vehicles.
Horsepower may steal a lot of headlines, but the always-more-complex torque figure is often a critical one for both the workingman and the motoring playboy. The measure of rotational force represents the twist that can liquefy one's tires or haul one's horse trailer. Good stuff.
It follows then, that as with the horsepower-to-weight list that we assembled for you a few months ago, a list of cars that offer the most pound-feet with the fewest pounds to carry, is an interesting one to break down. Sure, there's a big difference in how the torque is applied from a turbocharged six-cylinder in a Swedish luxury sedan and a massive heavy-duty truck's turbo-diesel. But being the car/stat geeks that we are, we think it's kinda neat that those two vehicles rank near each other where torque and weight intersect.
As with the horsepower list, we've given you figures as pounds per every one pound-foot. Again broken down into broad price categories, we've got a mixed bag of 2014 and 2015 models here, too. Every effort has been made to select the most up-to-date prices and specs, and we've also to omitted some '14 cars that won't be re-upped after the ongoing yearly changeover.
When Volvo lifted the veil on the new XC90 a little over a month ago, it announced that all versions would be powered by one engine design: a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder to be offered in various states of tune. That would range, Volvo said, all the way up to a high-output version with "around 400 horsepower," but while it wouldn't specify exact output, now it has.
The new High Performance Drive-E Powertrain incorporates two parallel turbochargers fed by a third electric turbo-compressor. Instead of feeding the cylinders directly, that third unit spools up the twin turbochargers, working together with a dual fuel pump pressurized to 250 bar.
The result is an output of 450 horsepower - far more than the existing 320-hp version and even more than expected. That also works out to 225 hp/liter, far more than the 177 hp/liter boasted by Mercedes-AMG's high-output turbo four and the 139 hp/liter in the Alfa Romeo 4C. Short of a rotary engine (whose actual displacement is the subject of great debate), you'd have to go up to something like the Koenigsegg One:1 (268 hp/liter) to find a higher specific output than what Volvo's boasting here.