The T5-equipped wagon is a smooth operator in performance and ride… while you won’t burn rubber at the green light, it will take off when necessary…
Las Vegas, Nevada.
Volvo is hitching some of its revival hopes to a wagon – the 2015 Volvo V60 Sportswagon.
Its grille is clearly all-Volvo but those typically boxy looks that characterized the make from your dad’s day are gone. In looks it’s a design variation of the S60 sedan and it will be a welcome sight for loyalists of the Swedish brand, having witnessed the demise here of the V50 and midsize V70 wagons. The wagon featured recently along with the S60 and XC60 crossover at a launch event in the Nevada desert.
The Volvo execs present proudly talked about their new Drive-E powertrains, developed thanks to the megabucks available now that the company is owned by the Chinese Geely Automotive. Ford ownership may now be retreating in Volvo’s rearview mirror but it is still beholden to the US manufacturer for the platforms upon which these three 2015 models ride. That will change later this year when the full-size XC90 crossover is set to sit atop Volvo’s so-called Scalable Product Architecture platform.
Model year 2014 saw a refresh of all three midsize Volvo models showing in the desert so this was truly about the new engines. The Drive-E family of gas, diesel and hybrid (the latter not yet, but soon) engines are built around a single, 2.0-litre four-cylinder powerplant.
It’s a brave gamble, worthy of Vegas, when you ponder the XC90 relying on such a small engine. Asked if this were a safe bet, the Swedes just smiled and promised the performance of the four-cylinder configuration will equal their big brothers by using such technologies as direct fuel injection, turbocharging, supercharging and… electrification.
Here in the Great White North, just the two gas engines will be offered initially – the new turbocharged T5 pumps out 240 horsepower, while the turbo’ed and supercharged T6 adds another 62 horses.
The base front-wheel-drive V60 T5, with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, will set you back $39,800. Volvos have never been cheap. The other three Sportswagons will continue to use existing powerplants, six-speed automatic transmissions and Haldex all-wheel-drive systems.
Did a little shopping off the strip in the XC60, which came into its own, its cavernous rear swallowing up my bulky purchases. I’ll reserve comments on the crossover until I’ve had a chance to put it through its paces in BC.
However, I got much more seat time in the V60 and S60 (S60 with T5 $37,750 / T6 $42,850) taking in the awe-inspiring beauty of the Valley of Fire state park and Red Rock Canyon.
The T5-equipped wagon is a smooth operator in performance and ride. And while you won’t burn rubber at the green light, it will take off when necessary… not that we got any chance to pass in the low speed limit state park! Volvo says it will hit 100 km/h in 6.3 seconds if given the lead foot treatment. (The T6 in sedan tells a slightly racier story. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating but only a little and I look forward pressing the pedal to the metal where I can legally do so.)
The T5 fuel economy ratings fare well in comparison with the market competition – 9.4/6.3/8.1 L/100km (city/highway/combined). These numbers are squeezed out of the power plant with the help of the standard engine stop/start system and the efficient new eight-speed transmission, which slips into a neutral coasting mode when you lift your foot off the gas.
Inside, the instrument panel stretches the span of the car and features an attractive floating centre console, which mixes good looks with functionality. Swedes are safety conscious, of course, and that means lane change, cross traffic, blind spot warnings and alerts.
The front seating is comfortable if a little soft on a long drive. Rear seating ditto and headroom is good despite the coupe-style slope of the rear. And a good view of the road fore, fore aft and side is enjoyed by all.
Great stowage room in the rear. The 40/20/40 split second row folds flat to provide enough space to move a small apartment’s furniture.
Just kidding, but you get the picture.
2015 Volvo V60 Sportwagon T5 FWD
Base sticker price: $39,800
Power: 2.0L, 16-valve, 240 hp, turbocharged DOHC I-4, mated to eight-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 9.4/6.3/8.1 L/100km (city/hwy/combined).
Truth is this car is more about looks. How it looks and how you look in it…
Las Vegas, Nevada.
Took the all-new BMW 4 Series Cabriolet on one of those leisurely and slow drives typical of a Sunday through Nevada’s stunningly beautiful Valley of Fire National Park.
Problem was that it was a Tuesday and the only other car on the road seemed to be the somewhat inappropriately named pace car ahead that kept our speed to a fraction below the posted 30 mph speed limit (which is 48.280 km/h to be precise).
Apparently, the overzealous state troopers, you know the guys with the mirrored sunglasses, had warned the Bavarian hosts that they would hold them responsible for any outrageous road behaviour, hence the so called pace cars ahead of each group of pearl white 435i cabriolets.
This topless edition joins its coupe sibling in the new 4 series classification which is really a new name for 3 Series two-door models. Just like the 2 Series coupes are actually two-door 1 Series models. Oh, never mind.
Anyway, this is a tourer for those with the cash rather than the sports-minded – $67,400 for the test car – so perhaps the afternoon stroll was more appropriate than a blast on the nearby freeway. (A base 428i version starts at $56,600, and comes with a 2.0-litre, 241 hp, turbocharged four-cylinder engine.)
If you are looking for feedback through the steering, you are not going to get much but there is no argument that it offers a smooth ride and cornering is effortless at 32 mph… devils, aren’t we?
Once out of the park, the Smokey bears joined the press pack as impromptu pace cars!
One ahead of us pulled off at a donut shop as we hit the highway. Here was our chance to open up. A bit. The 300-hp turbo inline-six swiftly moved through eight-speed auto tranny to 100 klicks in a smidgen under six seconds then I chickened out. (Six-speed manual transmissions will be available in Canada, which should increase sportiness in performance.)
Rumours circulated the evening dinner that a member of the Russian press corps had secured a $1,000 fine on that same stretch of road at about the time my co-driver and I had taken turns to punch the pedal and play briefly with steering-wheel mounted paddle gear changers.
Oh, and that’s when he were able to test the true effectiveness of the rear air diffuser (thumbs up) though when it is in place it rules out back seat passengers (thumbs down). And the rush of cooler desert air prompted us to flick the switch on the neck warmers, ah yes, a mark of true luxury.
Truth is this car is more about looks. How it looks and how you look in it.
And it looks absolutely fabulous, darling, now you ask. Can’t speak for myself.
It is simple elegant in profile but a scowling front gives it beastly pretensions. The power hard top rises smoothly from its hiding place in the trunk in 20 seconds. We were told it could even be raised in speeds up to 18 km/h. Why would you want to?
When that top is in place it truly looks like a coupe. Cool but even cooler when you lower the windows and see it as a pillar-less coupe! When the top is up it offers 370 litres of trunk space (222 litres when topless), which makes it the roomiest in its segment. BMW says it will comfortably stash two sets of golf clubs, if you are that way afflicted.
Classy leather interior, with ergonomically correct front seats. Can’t say the same about the back seats but then who wants to share the open top experience with anybody other than one’s beloved?
Controls handy though the rotary control was a bit too close to the front seat passenger for my liking.
No fuel consumptions estimates are available yet. There will be an X Drive version later this year.
Honda’s ‘Mean Mower’ is set for a special appearance next week in front of 60,000 trade visitors at the world’s premier automotive speciality trade show, SEMA in Las Vegas.
The 1000cc, 109hp lawn tractor will appear on Honda’s stand within the Las Vegas Convention Centre alongside the 2014 Civic coupe, which makes its world debut at the show, as well as an array of personalised Honda cars and motorcycles.
Commissioned by Honda (UK) and built by its British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) partner, Team Dynamics, Mean Mower is set-up and geared to achieve a top speed of 133mph, weighing just 140kgm, producing 96Nm of torque and an incredible power-to-weight ratio of 532bhp/tonne.
The project saw Team Dynamics re-engineer a Honda HF2620 Lawn Tractor from the ground-up, adding a custom-made fabricated chassis, a 1000cc engine from a Honda VTR Firestorm, a bespoke suspension and wheels from an ATV. It features a custom-made paddle shift six-speed gear system, a bespoke sports seat, a Scorpion exhaust system and a steering rack taken from a Morris Minor.
Every effort has been made to retain as much of the look of the original mower as possible. The cutter deck was custom-made in fibre-glass, to reduce weight, while, in a stroke of pure genius, the grass bag provides a happy home for the fuel tank, a high capacity oil cooler and a secondary water cooling radiator. Mean Mower can also still cut grass, at up to 25 km/h, thanks to two electric motors on the cutter deck, spinning 3 mm steel cutting cable at an incredible 4000rpm.