Volvo: Good things come in small packages
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Starting with the XC 90 flagship and applying a trickle-down strategy, Volvo has been working downwards in size and price as it delivers new models based on its modular SPA (Scaleable Product Architecture) vehicle platform.
The new XC 90 launched in 2015 was followed last year by the S90 and V90 double-act, and the 2017 initiative is the second generation XC 60 now on sale in New Zealand.
History suggests the five-seat luxury XC 60 has the greatest potential for new SPA-derived models to deliver volume sales success, and considerable anticipation accompanies the new model.
It replaces the original XC 60 that debuted in 2008 and has been Volvo’s long-term best-seller accounting for about a third of its global sales.
That pattern has been largely duplicated in New Zealand. When Volvo’s New Zealand sales topped 600 units for the first time in 2016, the XC 60 contributed 191 to the total.
Despite its longevity, the first-generation XC 60 has maintained momentum into its last year and will nudge over 100 sales in the January-September 2017 period.
A quick transition to the new model should see the first 70 vehicles delivered before the end of this year; and forecasts point to 240 units next year as Volvo looks to achieve 700 sales.
The first impression delivered from the new XC 60 is that it looks even better in the flesh than the promise it shows in photos.
The new generation Volvo styling cues work especially well with the more compact dimensions and lower stance of the XC 60 and it’s a handsome SUV design with stylish wheel options and strong colour choices.
And having sampled diesel D5 and petrol T5, T6 and plug-in hybrid T8 Twin Engine versions on Hawke’s Bay roads last week, the driving experience lives up to the aesthetic promise.
The XC 60 puts a secure footprint on the road while delivering superbly supportive seats and excellent visibility.
The high-torque engines, all-wheel-drive confidence and smooth eight-speed transmission provide high level refinement and responsive performance.
Volvo New Zealand is launching the XC 60 with two diesel and two petrol engine models as well as the plug-in hybrid T8 Twin Engine flagship with all models offering all-wheel-drive.
In total, there are seven variants at launch but that number is likely to be trimmed as customer preferences are revealed.
All engines are from the 2.0-litre four-cylinder Driv-E family and New Zealand customers get the Polestar Optimised performance upgrades as standard for D5, T6 and T8 models.
The diesel D4 engine provides 140kW output with 400Nm of torque while the D5 with Power Pulse turbo technology delivers 177kW and 500Nm of torque.
The T5 entry-level petrol develops 187 kW and 350Nm and the T6 boosted with both turbo and supercharging provides 246kW and 440Nm of torque in its Polestar Optimised form.
The T8 Twin Engine petrol plug-in hybrid at the top of the powertrain range delivers a combined output of 311kW and 680Nm of torque to achieve acceleration from 0-100km/h in just 5.2secs, combined cycle fuel consumption rated at 2.1 litres per 100km and an electric range of about 45km.
The XC 60 line-up reflects trends in the SUV market that was 78 per cent diesel in 2014 and has shifted to a 52-48 petrol-diesel split this year.
There are also three grades of specification and the entry point pricing is $84,900 for the XC 60 Momentum with the T5 engine with a $2000 premium for the D4 version.
Momentum models showcase the appealing equipment level across the XC 60 range which includes a 360-degree camera, leather seat trim, dual-zone air conditioning, LED headlights with the distinctive ‘‘Thor’s Hammer’’ theme and active high beam function, satellite navigation, Park Assist Pilot and keyless entry with push button start.
Momentum models have 19-inch alloy wheels, a handsfree tailgate and Apple Carplay/Android Auto functions integrated into the Sensus Connect system with its intuitive portrait format 9.0-inch touch screen.
The Intellisafe active safety system which includes pedestrian, cyclist, vehicle and large animal detection with automatic emergency braking provides the City Safety with Steering Support.
There’s also Driver Alert Control, Lane Keeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Information with Steer Assist and Cross Traffic Alert, Road Sign Information, Run Off Road Mitigation, tyre pressure monitoring and speed limiter.
Volvo’s Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) has been enhanced by Steer Assist helping to avoid potential collisions with vehicles in a blind spot by steering the car back into its own lane and away from danger.
The new Oncoming Lane Mitigation function alerts a driver who has wandered out of their lane and provides automatic steering assistance, guiding them out of the path of any oncoming vehicle.
The mid-tier equipment level is the XC 60 Inscription with a $5000 price step to $89,900 in T5 guise and $91,900 with the D5 powertrain.
Additional equipment included in Inscription models includes 20-inch alloy wheels in an eight-spoke style, bright deco exterior highlights and dual integrated tail pipes while the cabin features a new light colour Driftwood decor inlay, power adjustable front seats with memory function for the driver and Head-Up Display.
Adaptive Cruise Control with Pilot Assist is also standard for Inscription models along with four-zone climate control.
The strong visual appeal and sports theme of the XC 60 R-Design is proving popular with the early customers.
The D5 version is $94,900 and the T6 R-Design is $97,900 while the T8 Twin Engine version is the flagship of the range with plug-in hybrid efficiency priced from $117,900.
R-Design cues include more aggressively styled 21-inch alloy wheels and the exterior is detailed with matt silver mirror caps and gloss black highlights.
Inside, there is a charcoal nappa leather/nubuck sports seats with silver stitching and a charcoal roof lining, high level interior illumination, mesh aluminium decor trims, sports pedals and a sports steering wheel with gear shift paddles. The T8 R-Design has a panoramic sunroof as standard.
A significant range of options is available for the new XC 60 with the strongest value delivered by the $8000 Premium Pack.
Its contents include four-corner air suspension, heated front seats, power folding rear seat head rests and back rests, tinted rear windows and a Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system.
An option for Momentum models is the $1800 Driver Support Pack which adds Adaptive Cruise Control with Pilot Assist and Head-Up Display along with upgraded interior illumination.
The next phase of Volvo’s SPA new model plan will deliver new generation S60 sedan and V60 estate models in 2018 and also provide the basis for the Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid high performance coupe launching in 2019.
There is also a new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) line of smaller Volvo models, the first of which is the recently announced XC 40 compact
SUV that will go on sale in New Zealand in the first quarter of 2018.