Tag: Volvo

Some cars don’t need long titles: Polestar 1

Polestar1

Polestar 1

It’s here. Like ABBA making a return, but better. The day has come and gone and Volvo has finally launched their standalone performance brand, Polestar, after what seemed like many moons and suns.

Many of you may have heard the Polestar name before, and that is because up until now, they have even fettling common or garden Volvo’s and turning them into feisty blue upstarts – think of Polestar as being to Volvo what M Performance is to BMW, until now…

Having completely reinvented the brand, Polestar is now Volvo’s answer to the likes of M GmbH, AMG and Audi Sport, but with a sensible twist – they specialise in hybrids.

Unfortunately for those of us who love a little bit of a performance car here and there, we are headed into a cul-de-sac of woe and misery come the day we run out of petrol and choke all the rabbits and wombats with our noxious gasses. Polestar have seen both the gap in the market and the need for a performance hybrid, and while they most certainly aren’t the first to have done it, they have done a wonderfully good job.

Dubbed Polestar 1, their first foray into big-boy’s territory – think M6, E63S Coupe (when that becomes a thing) and RS7 two-door (when that also becomes a thing) – it’s not only a looker, but a serious bit of kit.

What is it?

Underpinned by Volvo’s SPA modular platform, it shares much of its chassis bits with the S90, however, it the wheelbase has been shortened by 320 mm with the bum, and oh what a bum it is, losing an additional 200 mm. The gents at Polestar most certainly know what they are doing, and they claim that 50% of Polestar 1’s chassis is unique to the vehicle, as well as being 45% stiffer than the S90’s chassis and 230 kg lighter. The majority of that weight saving and extra stiffness comes courtesy of Polestar 1’s carbon fibre bodywork.

What makes it go?

Beneath all that carbon fibre lies a hybrid setup somewhat similar to what you’ll find in Volvo’s current T8 models, but not really. Same same but different in that there’s an electric motor for each of the rear wheels – yay for real torque vectoring – and then the same old poke 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged mill we’ve all grown to love sitting up front. Total output is a staggering 448 kW and 1 000 N.m, which will likely propel the swishy Swede from 0-100km/h in under 4 seconds in ‘Power Mode’ yet should the mood take you, around 150 km in ‘Pure’ mode is possible using electricity only.

Aren’t those batteries heavy?

Well yes, they are, but thanks to the aforementioned carbon fibre, clever weight saving and preposterous amounts of torque, Polestar 1 will definitely not handle like a fat kid on a roundabout. Its centre of gravity is very low and as we all know, that’s a good thing. Not only that, but that other famous Swedish company and long-time friends of Polestar, Öhlins, have developed Polestar 1’s suspension. Dubbed Öhlins Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension (CESi), it’s their first foray into continuously variable suspension and it sounds pretty nifty, being able to make adjustments in just 2-milliseconds, taking into account both road conditions and driver input. Changes to the setup can also be made from within Polestar 1’s exquisite cabin, a first for Öhlins, and will likely feature a range of settings from ‘Comfort’ mode to ‘Race’ mode.

Famed Japanese brake manufacturers, Akebono, have contributed their 85 years of braking expertise into Polestar 1’s braking system, which makes use of 400 mm discs sandwiched between six-piston callipers – serious stuff.

Can I have one?

Sort of, but it’s tricky. Potential customers are only able to purchase the vehicle online – a world first – either via a smartphone app or through an online portal. A smart idea, but don’t expect a Takealot scooter to rock up with your Polestar 1 in tow. It’s far more complex and revolutionary than that and, just like we saw with the XC40 which debuts Care by Volvo, you will be able to ‘subscribe’ to the vehicle for two or three years, without a deposit, and have access to vehicle accessories such as a roof box, the ability to rent other vehicles from within the Volvo stable and pick-up and drop-off assistance when the time comes for your vehicle to be serviced. Polestar 1 will also do away with the traditional concept of a key-fob and will make do with a virtual key, embedded into your mobile phone. This also allows for the owner to send a virtual key to whomever they please, remotely, allowing them access to the vehicle, too. It’s a smart and revolutionary way of thinking and likely to be something that other manufacturers adopt in the very near future.

Where are they making it and are they hiding more Polestars?

Polestar 1 is set to be produced in Chengdu, China at the all-new Polestar Production Centre. Polestar claim that it will be the most environmentally-responsible car factory in China and while initially only geared for low volume production of Polestar 1, it has been designed to cater for larger volumes come the dawning of the age of Aquarius – or a few new models, whichever comes first. We can expect to see both a Tesla Model 3 and Model X competitor from the brand in the coming years, and with BMW’s i Vision Dynamics Concept closer to production than many think, things are about to get interesting…

Now, scroll back and ogle over those images again!

Volvo is on a roll! Welcome the new Volvo XC40

XC40

The New Volvo XC40

It’s no secret by now that Volvo are on a serious roll, with some of their recent models being the most handsome vehicles on the roads. Their recipe has almost been perfected and while they have always managed to retain their own identity, for some it was perhaps just a little too far removed from the Germans – because of course we all want to be like them…

XC40

The XC40 is the latest offering from the crafty Swedes and its set to take on the likes of Mercedes-Benz’s GLA, the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3, albeit in Swedish fashion, literally.

Unveiled in Milan, Volvo were clever in waiting for all the hype of the Frankfurt Motorshow to die down before letting the world set their eyes on their new baby SUV, thus taking centre stage and wowing the world with its chic design and handsome proportions.

The interior promises to revolutionise the way we think of space within a car, providing ample space for things like bottles, handbags, a space designed specifically for your cellphone, with induction charging, ad a removable waste bin within the centre console to minimise cabin clutter and litter – how clever?

XC40

Based on Volvo’s new CMA modular platform, it is Volvo’s first foray into the C Segment Premium SUV space with this platform set to find use across Volvo’s 40 series, as well as in electric vehicles to come.

At launch, D4 and T5 derivatives will be on offer with the range expanding into both hybrids and fully electric derivatives down the line. It goes without saying that Volvo’s impressive array of safety features, of course, are present, systems we have become familiar with in both the 60 and 90 range of Volvo’s.

XC40

Volvo Care is another new innovation from the brand which sees its debut in the XC40 which is said to make vehicle ownership as “transparent, easy and hassle free as having a mobile phone.”  Down payments and price negotiations are apparently a thing of the past with Volvo Care which, after a monthly flat-free subscription, will include access to a range of niceties such as service pick-up, refuelling, cleaning of your vehicle and e-commerce delivery to your Volvo, as well as access to car sharing facilities thanks to Volvo on Call and new digital key technology.

XC40

While GLA, X1 and Q3 are direct competitors, there is a good chance that potential non-premium brand shoppers might consider the XC40 due to its size and likely competitive pricing.

Production begins in November so expect local units to hit South African shores within the first quarter of 2018.

Volvo’s not so new S60 Polestar

Volvo S60 Polestar

The not so new Volvo S60 Polestar

So as you’ve gathered from the title, Volvo has done some fettling to their now aged but fast S60, and this is probably very important, but first some context. In around July of 2011, Volvo’s Smurf blue enthusiasts and fast car boffins Polestar, created a fast version of the S60, a car which you bought mostly because its cheap to buy used and you couldn’t afford a German car, but I digress. Polestar did some meddling with the transversely mounted 3.0-litre straight-6 turbo mill from the T6 and thus created the S60 Polestar. At the time it made an impressive 258 kW and 500 N.m, enough to rival to the likes of the BMW 335i and Audi’s S4. The big blue Swede was an interesting take on the performance sedan and offered a rather lovely package with pretty impressive numbers thanks to AWD and the big power, such as the 0-100 km/h sprint time, in the really serious sub-five category with 4.9 seconds and the usual pegged 250 km/h top speed. It was rather impressive & given its novelty, it presented itself to 25 South Africans as the top choice. Polestar called it “The car that their racing drivers drove to work.”  South Africa, being ever late to the party, only got the Swede in 2015 but it was rather well received, selling out before even hitting the shores.

Volvo S60 Polestar

Fast forward to 2016 and Volvo’s new DrivE ethos was now in full strength and the pursuit of lightweight driving dynamics had meant gone were the large displacement engines and in the new 24-kilogram lighter 2.0-litre engine with twin charging replacing the now defunct straight-6, thus ditching the rather sonorous noise it made for a supercharger whine and trubo whoosh. Linked to this impressive mill was an 8-speed box with flappy paddles. This not only meant a new engine and some new tricks to the dampening and the like, but a much more refined drive thanks to the more responsive gearbox. Although well specced, it still looks nearly identical to what it did when the car launched some years before. This coupled with the limited numbers again, and driving dynamics and performance figures that were not quite as good as the now updated rivals, meant that the S60 Polestar may not have sold as quickly as everyone had expected, but they still sold. This ultimately meant the S60 was a good offering but not the best car in the segment, just a memory, only to fade away much like it has, or has it?

Volvo S60 Polestar

Now, Volvo has done some fettling once again to the S60 Polestar, as a last hoorah if you will. 30% more downforce will grace another 23 models destined for South Africa, as well as a single V60. Thats right, we’re getting a whole Polestar wagon, Just like the one used as the safety car in the WTCC championship. The Swedes have made 250 changes to the air cutting abilities, including a front splitter, rear spoiler and side skirting, all finished in Carbon fibre. Also new are carbon fibre wing mirrors and 20-inch gloss black wheels.  Another loud hue in the form of a Bursting Blue exterior colour has been added, and,more importantly recognising the need for some attention on the dated interior, Volvo has added new charcoal leather with blue stitching, just what the ol’ girl needed.

Volvo S60 Polestar

There’s no denying that in a straight-line, the S60 Polestar will still do a good job of keeping up with the Germans, with the new model dashing to 0-100 in 4.7 seconds and a top chat of 250 km/h, limited of course, the S60 is not slow and still pretty rapid in the corners. If the current or previous model – I get confused sometimes – was anything to go by, it should be loud as the Cyan Racing blue paint. Given that this is Polestar’s first attempt at a fully fledged road car, it’s a rather good attempt and we’re looking forward to what’s yet to come from Volvo’s go-faster department.

Volvo S60 Polestar

Volvo S60 Polestar Pricing in South Africa

Pricing will be released closer to the launch, which will be later this year, but given that the previous models’ bargain pricing was just above the R700 000 mark, you can expect this to be competitively priced too.

An even sportier S90 has arrived: Volvo S90 R-Design.

Volvo S90 R-Design

Volvo adds a sporty R-Design option to the S90 range

The arrival of the S90 earlier this year brought about an interesting alternative to the typical German offerings in the luxury sedan segment. The S90’s mature and sophisticated look has been given a sporty aesthetic with the addition of the R-Design package. The additions include a gloss R-Design radiator grille with satin chrome accents and larger air dams in the front bumper. The satin theme is continued around the windows and the side mirrors. The rear of the Volvo S90 R-Design features a sportier derriere, with an intergraded rear diffuser and rhomboid tail pipes.  A set of standard 19-inch wheels completes the new sporty look, while the offering of either 20-inch and 21-inch wheels are available as optional equipment.  

Volvo S90 R-Design

The interior receives similar treatment, with the front sports seats being finished in Nappa leather with Nubuck inners. In addition, a perforated leather sports steering wheel with gear selection paddles and R-Design designation comes as part of the R-Design package, along with other changes which include aluminium sports pedals, unique floor mats and an illuminated R-Design logo in the door sills.

Spec Levels

The Volvo S90 R-Design models retain the same high level of standard equipment as the rest of the range, fitting in just below the Inscription model in terms of specification. This includes the distinctive “Thor’s Hammer” LED lights with the active cornering lights and high beam assist. The list of other features includes rear parking sensors, automated wipers, and the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and the brilliant 9-inch Sensus Connect unit which controls the dual-zone climate control and Clean-zone Air quality control system. The infotainment system features USB input, Bluetooth, AUX and a 360-degree camera as well as internet connectivity and a 10-speaker audio system. The Pilot Assist semi-autonomous system also comes as standard on the R-Design models, with the ability to control acceleration, braking and steering up to 130km/h.

Dynamically, the chassis has been firmed up to improve the overall sharpness and cornering ability of the vehicle with stiffer suspension by way of adjustments to the front and rear setupsVolvo S90 R-Design

Engine Options

The choice of either 2 petrol or two diesel motors are on offer in R-Design trim. The T5 petrol R-Design will offer the same engine as in the standard model, offering 187 kW and 350 N.m, driving the front wheels. Volvo claims a combined fuel consumption figure of a rather frugal 6.5 l/100. The top spec petrol T6 AWD offers twin charging technology, making use of both a turbocharger and supercharger, working together to produce 235 kW and 400 N.m of torque, enough to sprint from 0-100 km/h in 5.9 seconds while returning 7.2 l/100 on the combined cycle.

Volvo S90 R-Design

Diesel offerings include the same twin-turbo 2.0-litre motor in different states of tune. The D4 offers 140 kW and 400 N.m, giving a claimed consumption of 4.4 l/100. The top of the range diesel model offers 173 kW and 480 N.m, from the same twin-turbo 2.0- litre motor and is claimed to return 4.8 l/100km. All models are mated to a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission.

Alternatives

Competing with the likes of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW’s 5 Series and Audi’s A6, the Volvo S90 offers very high levels of standard equipment, safety and high-tech engines and drivetrain options as an interesting prospect with highly competitive pricing, especially when considering the Germans’ love for the odd ‘Optional extra’ here and there.

Volvo S90 R-Design

Volvo S90 R-Design Pricing in South Africa

Pricing is competitive, especially when considering the list of standard equipment. All derivatives come as standard with Volvo’s 5-year/100 000 km full maintenance plan and warranty, Tracker Connect and laminated glass.

Volvo S90 T5 FWD R-Design Geartronic                             R718 300

Volvo S90 D4 FWD R-Design Geartronic                             R742 200

Volvo S90 D5 AWD R-Design Geartronic                            R822 900

Volvo S90 T6 AWD R-Design Geartronic                            R874 600

 

On a roll: Volvo’s new XC60 revealed.

The new era Volvo’s has already managed to revitalise the brand, making them no longer cars that appeal to a specific group of people.  The edgy designs of the XC90 and newly launched S90 both inside and out have proved that Volvo means business. These cars though are not the most important Volvo’s in the stable, rather the smaller XC60 has been the glory child for the brand. With over one million units sold globally since 2008, it’s safe to say the outgoing XC60 was a hit. The new version will hopefully be a worthy follow up. If it’s anything like its siblings, we’re confident that current Volvo owner s will love it, as well as newer and younger audiences.

The new XC60 carries on the simplicity of the new Volvos, with its engine line up. A variety of 2 litre petrol and diesel engines will be on offer. For those looking for a faster XC60, you’ll be happy to know that the T8 twin engine variant will be offered, packing a healthy 300kW of electric and petrol power.

For diesel lovers, the D5 has not been left out, giving you 173kW and PowerPulse technology.  Power aside, a Volvo would not be a Volvo without safety being at the forefront of its design. Technologies we’ve come to know such as City Safety will make their way into the new XC60, only this time there will be an added Steer Assist feature. The awesome Pilot Assist will definitely not be left out, allowing the driver to experience  a semi-autonomous mode until 130km/h.

Aesthetic appeal of the new XC60 is obviously subjective but we think it maintains the modern loveliness of current Volvos of today. It may not be the prettiest as the XC90 is stunning, but it sure is handsome. Seeing  the new XC60 live will be the determining factor as the S90 was a huge surprise because it looks much more stately in the flesh. Stay tuned to hear more developments around this car in the future, as it will be very relevant for its segment.

The Volvo evolution continues: S90 is here

I guess we didn’t really know what to expect from the new Volvo S90. On pictures, it looked a bit underwhelming, pretty but nothing to ride home about. You can imagine then what went through my mind when I saw the car in the flesh because it completely took me by surprise. The car has a stately presence that can’t be captured on paper properly as it looks much smaller, but in reality, it’s a big lady. So much so that Volvo felt it appropriate to have us chauffeured in the cars from the airport to the launch destination in Franschhoek. Being only 5ft7 I can sit at the back of most sedans with ease. What I can’t do in most sedans is stretch my legs, something I was able to do in the Volvo S90. So far so good as this car is going to compete with the likes of BMW’s new 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz’ E Class.

Aesthetically the S90 shares similar features to the XC90, in fact it’s almost a sedan version of the SUV.  Many commented that the rear of the vehicle was the acquired taste of the design but I feel the retro taillights suit the overall look. It’s looks somewhat concept car-like but not overly caricatured. The interior design again shares a great deal with the XC90 as well. The central tablet controls various functions such as entertainment, safety, air-conditioning and much more. Overall trim is of a very high quality featuring real leather and very little plastic, making you feel comfortable as a car of this size deserves to have the best in terms of trim levels. A few minutes in the car will make any driver realise that the Swedes pulled out all the stops with this car, which should make the German’s nervous.

This nervousness shouldn’t be about sales figures as the reality is that we live in brand conscious South Africa. This means that brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW will always have the majority market share in certain segments. Rather the nervousness should be because there is a rise in not being mainstream. In certain cities like Johannesburg, every second car is a BMW or Merc so for those looking to be different, the new Volvo’s offer an appealing package. The playing fields are being levelled and driving the new S90 confirmed this. Sitting in the S90 gives a feeling confidence and the dynamic attributes to match. The 4WD systems on the cars also allowed us to exploit Franschhoek pass with ease, too much ease at that. In fact, the S90’s chassis is the most impressive aspect of the cars’ driving experience. The derivatives offered on launch were the T6 featuring 235kW Drive E engine and the D5 with Power Pulse with 173kW, so there was no shortage of power where that is concerned.

Being a Volvo, safety always come first so even though the cars produce a healthy amount of power, it’s delivered very safely. This makes any driver capable of driving the car fast as it doesn’t evoke any fear behind the wheel. The focus is not on speed, though, it’s on refinement, technology and innovation. The biggest innovation for me was the newest iteration of Pilot Assist. An individual can now drive in semi-autonomous mode up until 130km/h depending on the road condition. Steering inputs, braking and acceleration are all controlled by the car whilst you simply place your hands on the steering wheel. Other features such as pedestrian detection, cyclist detection and even animal detection are just some of the safety features of the car. To list everything would turn this write up to a spec list and we’re not here to do that. We’re here to tell you that this Volvo is probably one of the best we’ve driven since the new XC90 which has won many accolades. There is very little you can fault on the car, it’s really a job well done by the Swedes.

Pricing on the car starts at R678 500 which is also a reasonable range considering what you’re getting. That price of course is minus things like Bowers & Wilken sound system and you’ll pay more depending on what package you choose. There is the choice of the standard Momentum, Inscription and R-Design packages. We had Inscription’s at our disposal and some were specified with some rather appealing features which added to the good looks. Again though if you want it, you must pay for it.

Overall, I personally feel that the S90 is a car that can coexist with its rivals, as it’s a niche offering. Niche brands such as these are great because they offer exclusivity. They answer the question that many motorists have, that of “do I have to have what everyone else has?” What the car has done is match the rivals in terms of comfort, luxury and even dynamics. It’s the executive sedan for the elusive, those that don’t want to be like everybody else. For those looking to purchase one, Volvo’s new guaranteed future value scheme will give you piece of mind as this alleviates the perception of bad trade in values. So this entire package becomes even more appealing. The S90 experience is one that proves that things don’t always have to stay the same. It proved that the big three don’t always have to be on top. Now it’s only a matter of seeing how the South African market responds to this car. We wish it well.

 

 

Volvo XC90 Excellence

Of late, the term ‘Swede Speed’ has been used more than Oral B in a nunnery but let’s not forget what the polar-neck brigade are best at…Swede tweed.

Ever since conception in 1915 as a ball bearing manufacturer, Volvo has become a by word for left of field design and superb quality. In 1927, the first Volvo rolled out of the factory in Gothenburg and straight into a wall of bricks. Not really, but if you were to ask anyone what Volvo is known for, they’d say safety, comfort and Swedish design. Safe and suave, then, are the reasons we like Volvos and while the general consensus is that Volvo’s are for yummy mummies, anyone who can look past that perception will know that it’s difficult to find a more rounded motor car. If you’re not getting my ball bearing puns by now then that’s your own fault.

Volvo XC90 Excellence 07

The Volvo XC90 when launched in 2002 was an instant success because it blended all the things people like about Volvos with seating for 7 and a shocking GM 4-speed gearbox. And despite the aforementioned gearbox being very woeful, the original XC90 is still in production today in China because it’s that good! It’s also very old, though, which is why the rest of the world grew bored of the XC90 with sales dwindling for a few years before the new XC90 rolled in. And boy did the XC90 roll all over its competitors, sweeping up countless awards internationally, one of which was South Africa’s prestigious Wesbank Car of The Year 2016. Well-priced, impressive looks and great standard spec are all things that we at TheMotorist love about the XC90 and following its local success, Volvo Car South Africa think it’s time for the Range Rover to roll over…

Volvo-XC90-Excellence-02

The Volvo XC90 Excellence is now available in South Africa and you’ll be pleased to know that they have been inundated with an order. Yes, just one. Volvo promises one of the most luxurious models in the brand’s 89 year history and they’re probably right. It’s kitted out with everything bar a toaster and a swimming pool and is offered exclusively with the T8 Twin Engine powertrain. Snazzy kit includes ‘distinctive cup holders’ which feature heating and cooling, individual and fully adjustable, heated, cooled and massaging rear seats with footrests and little tables in the backs of the front seats. Special champagne flutes are also thrown in and are fashioned from the same Orrefors glass as the gear knob – something which I’ve always wanted in a car.

Volvo-XC90-Excellence-04

Power comes from a 235 kW, 400 Nm supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder Drive-E petrol engine and is fed to the front wheels through an 8-speed transmission. The rear wheels are connected to a 65 kW, 240 Nm electric motor which allows for all-wheel drive should you feel the need to go off-roading in your lounge. Total output is an impressive 300 kW and 640 Nm which will be sure to propel you and your gear knob flutes with grace and pace to 100km/h in a brisk 5.9 seconds! All this while returning a claimed fuel consumption of 2.5l/100km.

As with any Volvo, a vast array of safety features comes as standard. ABS, EBD, BAS and HAS are some of the three-lettered delights thrown in for nothing and it’ll even drive itself up to 130km/h. The City Safety autonomous emergency braking system also caters for large animals and all isn’t lost should they be riding a bicycle in front of your moving Volvo. The XC90 is so safe, in fact, that it received a 97% score in its Euro NCAP crash test for adult occupants and 87% for child occupants – best in its class.

The features on this XC90 pretty much matches the spec of a Range Rover L Supercharged SVAutobiography, yours for a cool R3.6 Million.

So what does all of this Swedishness cost, you ask?

Oh, R1.5 Million.

 

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Volvo XC90 Excellence 06

Smaller engine, more power: New Volvo S60 Polestar

Normally a model refresh or “face-lift” comprises of some subtle visual changes. With performance cars, the manufacturer usually adds some extra power to keep buyers happy.  In the case of the Volvo S60 Polestar, Volvo have taken a slightly different approach. They have done away with the original 3.0 litre in-line six cylinder turbocharged engine and replaced it with a four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged Drive-E version. A car that produced 258kW now makes 270kW. This sounds a bit drastic for a mere 12kW gain in power. The changes don’t end there, though. The 6 Speed automatic gearbox on the original S60 Polestar reminded one of performance cars from yesteryear and we lamented how that was the cars biggest flaw. Now, however, an 8 Speed fast shifted gearbox has taken the reins to make the car feel more modern.

new-volvo-s60-polestar-06

Big changes, little gains?

Volvo’s efforts to please its target markets needs did not go wasted. The reduction in weight from the smaller engine surely adds a different feel to the car. There is a reinvigorated zeal in the new model to do things faster, where the old model suffered from delayed reaction times. The shift speed of the new gearbox is also most welcome in this new model. Up-shifts are quicker and the new ratios have made for a more exciting driving experience. As a whole, this new setup is very good. Yes, we miss the noise of the old girl but the hot hatch sounding engine tone in the new car is not bad, especially when Sport mode is engaged via the gearbox. The move from turbo-charging to twin charging (supercharging and turbo-charging) may seem slightly old school in a time where twin-scroll turbochargers are the preferred choice by many, but in this case, it works as there is minimal lag.

Comfort first, performance second

In my opinion, the most enjoyable aspect of the new S60 Polestar is how it doesn’t compromise on providing a comfortable driving experience. After all, being a large sedan a car like this will usually be bought by someone who has a family. For that purpose, the ride quality and ample legroom and boot space, will surely keep that client happy. Even as a childless single adult, I could appreciate driving in the standard mode, knowing I have the power to overtake without having to use it. That being said, the Polestar is still a Volvo and modern Volvo’s come standard with enough technology to rival Apple. This is not a bad thing, but it can become intrusive. Lane departure assist is great, but seeing a quick gap on the highway and taking it may be problematic as the car will veer the car back into the line, thinking you’re falling asleep. Being in the city also means that cars naturally travel closely behind each other. When approaching another vehicle from behind at speed,  the anti-collision system beeps at you, to alarm you of a potential rear ending. For someone on the move and in a rush constantly, you may want to turn off some of the systems to cope with the fact that your car thinks you’re a bad driver. Besides that, you can sit back in the leather and Alcantara seats, play your music through the fantastic sound system and revel at the fact that your car is more blue than most people’s.

new-volvo-s60-polestar-11

Great for its age.   

The fact that we can compare an S60 Polestar to its competitors and still enjoy it is a huge feat for Volvo. The reason for this is because to put it simply; the entire S60 range is old. The exterior and interior design has not been changed in a while whilst the competition’s cars are much newer. One looks forward to the new S60, especially since cars like the XC90 and soon to be launched S90 look and feel great. We hope to see the model that will replace this car emerge soon. For now, though, Volvo aficionados and eccentric individuals looking for something different have something, fast, blue and nimble to enjoy.

new-volvo-s60-polestar-44

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Volvo XC90 T5 R-Design

Naturally, as humans, we have high expectations of certain things. If for example, you had booked a few nights at a top 5-star hotel you would expect the room, food, and service to be excellent. Maybe you decided to treat yourself and fly business class, once again you have certain expectations that you expect to be met. These same thoughts ran through my head before the Volvo XC90 arrived at our offices. I never really have expectations when testing new cars because I prefer to have an open mind on every vehicle I drive. When the car comes with the title “Car of the year 2016” though, it’s kind of hard to ignore. My expectations were high as I had never driven an XC90 before this and was excited to find out what all the hype was about.

The XC90 I drove was the T5 R-Design in Onyx Black Metallic, wow it’s a looker. I don’t mind saying that this car is one of if not the best looking SUV on the road right now. The R-design sports body kit and 20-inch wheels set this car apart. I fell for this car before I even drove it and that does not happen often. The technical aspect of this car is advanced with world first items such as pedestrian and cyclist detection, to the head up display. It’s got the lot! One thing I really enjoyed in this car which I struggle to enjoy in others, is the Sensus connect touchscreen infotainment system. Many of the full touch screen systems in cars today annoy me as they often don’t work properly. They can be difficult to use which distracts from the road. The Sensus system is different, It works well and is very responsive.

Behind the wheel

Driving this vehicle is an experience you don’t often get, but it’s one you will remember. The 187 kW provided from the 2L 4-cylinder power plant is nearly perfect for the size and weight, big SUV’s don’t always need to be overpowered monsters. I found the XC90 to be very driver based, everything focuses on you and the non-intrusive head up display finishes this feeling off. It’s not just the tech that makes this car great, though, it’s also how it drives. Remove half of the gizmos and you would still get the same experience every time you drive it. It makes me feel like I am in command of a futuristic spaceship, I feel in charge on the road and that is an awesome feeling to have. The driving performance of this vehicle is also very enjoyable, it accelerates and handles well for its size and this fits in with the sporty design. If batman drove an SUV, this would be it.

The problem with the XC90 is that there is no problem. I went looking for issues or things I didn’t like and the only issue I found was that the ambient lighting system in the doors and footwells don’t change colour like the overhead ambient lights. Pretty insignificant I know. Apart from that, the attention to detail is on point, even the start/stop switch is worthy of an award. My 300 words are long gone, but I’m going to finish with this. This is one very special vehicle.

 

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Volvo’s new XC90 T8 Hybrid: A moving paradox.

Electric Drive: New Volvo T8 Hybrid Driven.

The 4×4 is the one car that has always been hailed as the big bad wolf in the industry. This is because cars of this nature normally use large fuel guzzling engines. Times have changed recently though and Volvo has helped shape the change, by using one of the largest cars in the market. Since the launch of the all new XC90, the public’s reception of this car has been nothing but good. Awards such as the Wesbank COTY 2016 and the Cars.co.za “Best Premium SUV” award proves this, as well as numerous other international awards.

The use of 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol and diesel engines in such a large car is one of the most important features of the XC90. These small engines have drastically improved the fuel consumption of the range. Now to be even more efficient, Volvo have thrown in an 9 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack to their powerful 235kW petrol engine. As a result, a combined power output of 300kW from both engines gives the car immense power and a claimed fuel economy figure of 2.1 litres/ 100km! (Sounds crazy right?) Realistically, we achieved around 5.5 litres/ 100kms but that was toggling through all the modes and driving in the city. Even at that figure, that is a remarkable number to achieve in a seven seating SUV.

Regarding aesthetics and design, the T8 keeps the same look and feel that its siblings have. It’s available in Momentum, Inscription and R-Design Package. What is standard in the T8, apart from other things is a sunroof and a crystal gear knob (fancy right?).

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How does is drive?

Silently. When the car is in “Pure” mode, you can hear the passengers swallow, which may be disturbing but quite amazing too. The car is still as comfortable as any other XC90, the only difference is that it’s much quieter. You can travel up to 43km in full electric mode and when you put the car in “Hybrid” mode, you get a combination of both petrol and electric power. If you’re in a hurry and you’re fully charged, you’ll be happy to know that in “Power” mode you can use all 300kW to get going quickly. Even in “beast mode”, the T8 maintains a level of civility and sophistication through smooth power delivery.

When you’ve hit a load shedding situation and you’ve run out of electric power, you can charge up at home to give your car life again. The good news is that if you do travel longer than the 43km electric range, you do have internal combustion to get you home.

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What does the future hold?

Cars like these are very important to the industry, because they represent the future. Obviously as systems progress, this technology will keep getting better and more affordable to the general public. Soon we’ll even be able to go further with hybrid cars and it’s nice to see that Volvo are once again at the forefront of the change. That being said, other companies like BMW now offer a competitor, such as the X5 40e. This car uses a similar setup and we’re sure that it’s only a matter of time until other brands join the club. The T8 XC90 is still as good, still as pretty and still as elegant as it’s always been, only now it’s more efficient. It’s awesome to see the biggest car use the least amount of fuel, it’s a moving paradox.

Prices: 

Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine AWD Momentum                     R1 053 400

Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine AWD Inscription                         R1 092 100

Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine AWD R-Design                            R1 117 700

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