“Polestar is evocative, sexy, incredibly agile and designed to satisfy with every ride…”

There are a few schools of thought when it comes to writing down your to-do lists.

One argument says that writing lists causes the brain to get lazy; therefore, it doesn’t retain information as easily because it knows there is a backup somewhere.

Another suggests that highly effective people write lists because when they scratch their tasks off, it creates positive reinforcement and motivates individuals to continue to work hard. Call my brain lazy, but I love writing lists.

It seemed only natural to have such a list while the Volvo’s performance version of V60 sportwagon was in my garage. The V60 Polestar is evocative, sexy, incredibly agile and designed to satisfy with every ride. And yes, this is a Volvo.

For those not familiar with the tuning division of Volvo, their roots go back to 1996 when they started working with the Swedish brand in regards to motorsports. Since then, they’ve helped develop not only track-worthy competitors, but also street cars.

Clad in a Rebel Blue robe, our time together would not be for eternity, but the memory will recall the experience without need of a list!

Here are just a few things that I felt inspired to do with the 345 horsepower V60.

1) Have fun.

2) Find some snow and play in it.

3) Paint my toenails the same colour as its exterior. You know, because it’s what all the cool kids are doing.

4) Impress first-time Volvo passengers with its competency.

5) Make a Polestar joke (or many) and see how many people laugh at my sharp wit.

6) Make use of its 692L cargo capacity.

7) Accelerate quickly. Make someone’s day.

And the list could go on…

The Lower Mainland doesn’t experience the wrath of winter as other parts of Canada do. Regardless, this V60 warmed up in a flash. Minutes into my drive the heated seats in full swing, the heated steering wheel toasting my fingers, and the hot air blowing out of the vents. The Swedes know cold and how to keep it outside.

The car’s handling prowess can be attributed to its front and rear Öhlins Shock Absorbers, MacPherson front and multilink independent rear suspension. This V60 gives you the confidence you’d like in turns while having a blast and making sure occupants are comfortable.

As for playing in the slippery and the snow, count on Volvo’s Haladex Four-Wheel Drive System to distribute power to the wheels that are in need of it the most. Add in razor-sharp steering and running errands just doesn’t feel like a chore anymore.

Then there’s what really gets the party started. Under its hood is a 3.0L, turbocharged T6 engine that produces the aforementioned 345 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Torque is harnessed as low as 2,800 rpm and then delivered via a 6-speed automatic transmission. Paddle shifters also come as standard equipment. If there were to be more of a kick while accelerating quickly, that would be welcome, but not necessary.

Speaking of acceleration, getting up to 100km/h from zero takes a mere 4.9 seconds. Getting you back to zero is made possible by using Polestar’s 14.6-inch ventilated front discs matched with six-piston Brembo calipers with 11.8-inch ventilated discs in the rear.

The only real drawback of the Polestar, I found, was its turning radius. Tight turns at low speeds wasn’t ideal, but if you need to a three or four-point turn to get into the mall’s cramped parking stalls, so be it.

At the end of our test time together, I’m happy to report that I checked off all the items on the list. If the universe unfolds in my favour, we shall meet again.

The Volvo V60 Polestar is available in limited quantities and has an MSRP of $66,895.

Visit www.volvocars.ca for more information.

Contact: alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

VIDEO: Volvo V60 Polestar: The Ultimate Estate for Petrolheads and Compulsive Hoarders

“Like Driveway, we are not producing a show for gearheads but for normal people, who just want to know what’s available, for how much, what the safety features are and how fuel efficient a car is.” – Zack Spencer

Driving Television is a slickly produced, fast-paced car show, designed to help regular folks make a sound decision when making the second biggest purchase of their lives – buying a car.

When Driveway’s lead test driver Zack Spencer is not writing for you here, he’s in front of the camera co-hosting the top-rated, independently produced, Canadian show with Lacey Elliott.

You won’t find me in front of the lens, having looks suited only for print, but recently I spent a day behind the DTV camera, observing Zack and videographer Brian Chow. The action took place in Whistler for the launch of the 2015 Lexus NX.

First up was a presentation about the product, and specifically the technology featured in the compact crossover vehicle. While some journos present yawned occasionally and jotted a few notes, Zack wrote feverishly, asking many questions.

“They sometimes last an hour or longer but these presentations are extremely important to my day’s work,” advises Zack. “The print guys can take the thumb drive with all the info on it and check it at their leisure later. But I need to leave the room with all the facts and have my questions ready to go.”

Minutes later, he’s conducting an interview with Lexus Canada Director Cyril Dimitris, about the importance of this new entry to the fastest growing market segment. The print and online writers have already left for a day on the scenic back roads and a jaunt along the Sea to Sky Highway.

We’re striking out on our own.

“We do up to 30 launches a year and some manufacturers want people to drive up to 400 kilometres. I always say we are either driving or shooting but we’re not doing both so most manufacturers are happy to let us do our own thing.”

Just 15 minutes later, Zack is up Whistler Mountain, doing a standup shot talking knowledgeably to the camera about the NX. Yes, he really was taking notes while many of the rest of us were nodding or slurping the coffee at the Four Seasons Resort.

A steep mountain road outside Pemberton was the perfect spot to show off the car in a beautiful location. Well, it was in the breaks between heavy logging trucks passing by.

The next couple of hours were spent driving up and down the road to capture in car commentary from Zack.

“When we first started (12 years ago) we had to shoot with large TV cameras from the roadside for externals or stuff a camera into the dash to get my remarks while driving,” explains Zack.

But new technology has changed all that. Brian shoots with what looks like a regular digital still camera.

“The old TV cameras would cost about $100,000 but you can now get great DSLR cameras, designed for video, for around $10,000.”

Then there are the tiny $500-plus GoPro video cameras that attach anywhere inside or outside, which Brian controls from an app on his iPhone from the passenger seat! Gone are the days of $1,000 an hour helicopter shoots when a $150 remote controlled drone can achieve the same dramatic aerial video.

Now it’s back to Vancouver to edit a three- to seven-minute segment for the show. Zack explains the program’s mandate: “Like the Driveway section in print, we are not producing a show for gearheads but for normal people, who just want to know what’s available, for how much, what the safety features are and how fuel efficient a car is.”

The show featuring the NX goes to air this Saturday on Global TV across Canada. Check your local listings for times.

Contact: keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca


What Zack says about the 2015 Lexus NX

Where has the modern station wagon gone?

Nowhere, it’s just called something else – crossover or small SUV.

The edgy design of the NX will turns heads and garner attention but I have come to realize two things about the car business. When a design is rather edgy, it can date quickly. The second is that the initial “bam, look at me” wears off.

The exterior might be an acquired taste but the inside is a refined and practical place to spend time.

Powering around the mountain resort I got my first shot at the all-new 2.0L direct inject turbocharged 4-cylinder that Lexus will use in a number of its vehicles.

With 235hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque this new power plant does a good job once the NX 200t is in motion, it is getting away from a stop that could use a bit more snap. AWD is standard across the lineup but the system is designed to run in front wheel drive as much as possible to help save fuel.

As the small SUV market continues to grow and this new NX certainly is one of the most eye-catching to come along in a while.

NX 200t from $40,950, fuel economy – 10.6/8.4 L/100 km (city/hwy)

NX 220h (hybrid) from $58,850, fuel economy – 7.1/7.7 L/100 km (city/hwy)

Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

“On the Nissan Altimate Rogue Trip we saw the spectacular in spades. And when the dozen journalist participants pulled up at the end of the road by the Santa Monica Pier, we shared a great sense of achievement…” (more…)

A hands-on ability, whatever the skill, is a talent that tends to go unrecognized and, too often, it is under-appreciated, even by those who possess the talent.

That’s why I was delighted to be asked again to participate as a judge (one of five) in the annual “Show Us Your Skills” competition organized by Discover Skills BC for high school students.

Students create a short video about a trade or skill that they are interested in pursuing. Prizes for the top three videos are presented to both the student and the high school that they attend.

The high level of expertise that some of these kids already possess was remarkable and the video entries this year were outstanding.

First prize this year went to Connor Shaw, a student at Traditional Learning Academy in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. He was taught to weld by his uncle and at age twelve he fabricated a flat deck for a truck he was given. More recently he added a hydraulic lift system that gives the flat deck a dump feature. Connor loves welding and plans to pursue a career in a related trade. Connor will get an Apple MacBook Air and his high school will receive $2,000.

The second prize winner was Albert Leung, who attends Steveston-London Secondary in Richmond. Albert will get an Apple iPad Air 16GB and the school will receive $1,000.

Bernice Chung, a student at Eric Hamber Secondary, in Vancouver, came third, she will receive an Apple iPad Mini, and $500 goes to the school.

Trades can offer a rewarding and fulfilling career path with a higher than average wage level and a solid future. The trades sector in BC is expected to face an overall labour shortage by 2016 that will deepen in the following years, according to WorkBC Trades Occupations Outlook (2010-2020) report (www.workbc.ca).

A goal of this video competition is to encourage more BC students to simply consider a trade as a rewarding career alternative and entice more teachers and high schools to include trades as a career option in the classroom.

In the auto service industry, the highly regarded Ford ASSET technician training program is a good example. Locally, apprentices spend four months at BCIT and four months in a BC Ford dealership (mainly in the service sector, but also in other departments) on a rotational basis. They can also choose to specialize in a specific area, such as auto electronics, and get additional upgrade certification courses through Ford training.

Most apprentice programs are four years and on-the-job training is on-going, especially in the auto service industry. Changes in new technology are rapidly transforming trades, as well as other occupations. Looking even further ahead, our growing and evolving job market will require skilled, capable people who can adapt to new challenges and new technologies.

Discover Skills BC is an initiative, funded by the BC Government, to help provide easy access for secondary students to opportunities in trades and technology training. The competition is also run in cooperation with Trades Training BC, Skills Canada and the Industry Training Authority. My fellow judges for this year’s competition were Mike Holmes, Spencer Thomson, Suki Takagi and Shelley Robinson.

You can look at the top three winning entries online at www.discoverskillsbc.ca

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

Gold medal winning speed skater Charles Hamelin is one of the athletes in BMW Canada’s new ‘Powering Performance’ ad campaign, built for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Hamelin won a gold medal on Sunday and is three medals away from becoming Canada’s most decorated Olympian ever.

Canadian Olympic team sponsors BMW and MINI are celebrating their association with imaginative video.

The BMW tribute (above) is heartwarming while MINI’s is plain fun as a garage full of MINIs sing “O Canada”.

To mark the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, BMW premiered its 60-second spot as part of its integrated Olympic marketing campaign, Powering Performance. The campaign communicates the parallels between the high performance of BMW vehicles and the high performance of Canadian Olympic athletes.

“At BMW, peak performance, innovation, and style are at our core,” said Kevin Marcotte, Director of Marketing at BMW Canada. “Powering Performance brings to life the synergies between our brand and the elite athletes competing in Sochi, and celebrates our Team BMW Olympians as they keep their eye on their craft – and on gold.”

The Powering Performance platform and creative was developed by Cundari, BMW Canada’s creative agency. The campaign includes one 60-second TV spot, and three 15-second spots featuring three of six Team BMW sponsored athletes – Olympic champions Kaillie Humphries (Bobsleigh) and Charles Hamelin (Short Track Speed Skating), and first-time Olympian Roz Groenewoud (Freestyle Skiing – Halfpipe).

The spots were directed by award-winning director-photographer Shin Sugino, and feature the high-performance BMW M5, the all-new BMW 4 Series Coupé, the next generation BMW X5 Sports Activity Vehicle and the BMW i8, the new electric vehicle from the sub-brand BMW i.

Using the visual metaphor of “Blue Energy”, BMW’s signature colour, Powering Performance is meant to symbolize how BMW Canada is powering Canada’s athletes to achieve their best and secure their place on the Olympic podium. Topix, one of Canada’s leading post-production houses, fused the Blue Energy to each of the featured athletes as they power through every twist, turn and jaw-dropping trick. An anthemic original music track by award-winning Canadian music composer Grayson Matthews, supports the world-class visuals.

The campaign amassed more than 200 hours of rotoscoping, 150 hours of background painting, 50 versions of ‘Blue Energy’, and 500 hours of compositing to achieve the desired effect.

The TV spots are also supported by digital, out of home, consumer drive events and contesting, and social media, using hashtags #TeamBMW and #PoweringPerformance, and a two-minute dynamic behind-the-scenes spot exclusively for YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Real-time posting to digital banner ads, bmw.ca and social media will show BMW Canada’s support for Team Canada and its Team BMW athletes every step of the way.

Go online for more information on BMW Canada’s Olympic Partnership and the Powering Performance Campaign.

Over at the BMW subsidiary, MINI teamed up with Toronto creative agency Richmond

Day, Corner Store Films and SNDWRX Audio to produce a 60-second Olympics-themed online spot (above) in which a group of MINI vehicles ‘spring to life’ to perform a unique rendition of the Canadian National Anthem.

The video, aptly titled “MINI Sings O Canada”, features a musical track that was created using only the sounds emitted by the MINI vehicles themselves – a melange of MINI horns, doors closing, electronics, and engine revs, to name but a few.

Contact: keith [dot] morgan [at] driveaybc [dot] ca

VIDEO: Charles Hamelin’s Powering Performance Ad for BMW Canada

Pictures courtesy of BMW Canada:

image001Mini Shoot Director Mini Shoot 14 004Mobi_720x383_v1 Website_1024x634_v2 Website_1024x634_v1 Mobi_720x383_v5



If you like the idea of a smart looking car that is well equipped and powerful, you might want to move on an Accord Coupe…  (more…)

Sure, this was published all the way back on November 8, but it’s hard to get enough…

Mercedes is making waves for 2014. It’s CLA has already impressed the heck out of our own car guy, Zack Spencer.

And its new E-Class looks fit for a drive from the bustle of New York City to the luxurious lapland of Montauk.

You know, if you’re in that area.

Nissan GT-R Nismo

Nissan stole the show with not only one of the fastest cars in the world but the fastest man in the world, too.

Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Usain Bolt was on hand as Nissan’s Director of Excitement (*photo above) to help unveil this new powerhouse car. Usain was clearly taken with the new GT-R Nismo, there were also promises to get him one as soon as they are available to replace his gold coloured GT-R.

Power on the GT-R Nismo has been pumped up to 600hp taking this new Nismo version to 100 k/h in just two seconds. That’s right… two seconds!

Nissan claims that the Nismo also gets suspension advancement and interior upgrades to help refine the ride and quite the cabin.

Look for the new GT-R in the spring of 2014. I suspect Usain will get his a bit earlier.

Usain Bolt Nissan Photo

  • Recent Comments

    • Andrew Ross { Enjoyed your Forest of Bowland in the BMW X5M, particularly the photo of the BMW in front of the main part of Stonyhurst College where... }
    • Davd Randall { Bantam designed the Jeep, not Willy's or Ford. The American military gave the original Bantam prototype to Willys and Ford to copy. There is plenty... }
    • Elliott Parodi { All Escalades come with a 6.2-lilter V8 engine that produces 420 horsepower. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered and drives the rear wheels.... }
    • Ev { Alexandra is an excellent journalist. }