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by Tim Beissmann

Volvo has previewed its all new Volvo V60 sports wagon ahead of the 2010 Paris Motor Show in September, boasting coupe-inspired styling, interior versatility and trademark safety features.

Volvo Cars President and CEO, Stephen Odell, said the V60 was designed for the S60 customer who wants extra space and flexibility without compromising sporting design and dynamic driving characteristics.

With the 40/20/40 split-fold rear seats in place, the V60 has a rear capacity of 430 litres, but V60 head of interior design, Jonathan Disley, said volume was just one measure of practicality.

“Load-carrying ability is not just about volume. It is equally about the load space’s shape and flexibility. We have worked hard to free-up load-carrying area and to provide capacity that truly makes a difference to the car owner. We have created the extra centimetres you need to bring with you those items that give life that added spice,” Mr Disley said.

A number of storage compartments have been scattered throughout the interior designed for everything from books and maps to bottles and cans.

Under the bonnet, four petrol engines and three diesels will give European customers a full range to choose from.

The new 1.6-litre GTDi petrol is available in both T3 (112kW/240Nm) and T4 (134kW/240Nm) tunes, and the overboost function adds an extra 30Nm in short bursts. The T3 comes with a six-speed manual transmission only, while the T4 has the option of a six-speed PowerShift automatic. The 2.0-litre 179kW/320Nm T5 will join the line-up later in the first year of production.

The 3.0-litre inline-six T6 has been boosted to 227kW and an impressive 440Nm of torque. The 0-100km/h sprint takes 6.6 seconds yet fuel consumption is down 20 percent to 10.2 litres/100km. The T6 is teamed with Volvo’s second-generation six-speed automatic Geartronic transmission and standard all-wheel drive.

The top-of-the-line diesel engine is the 2.4-litre five-cylinder D5, which produces 153kW and 420Nm. Two different sized turbochargers complement each other across the rev range and lead to spirited performance and low fuel consumption of 5.4 litres/100km combined.

The 122kW/400Nm 2.0-litre D3 will sit beneath the D5, and both will be available with manual and automatic gearboxes.

The 86kW/270Nm 1.6-litre DRIVe diesel engine will also be added to the V60 range during the first year of production, promising the best economy and emissions ratings of all the engines offered.

Volvo will equip the V60 with an advanced stability control program and Corner Traction Control for smoother cornering. Pedestrian Detection with full auto brake, Rollover Protection System and City Safety – which includes Driver Alert Control, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Information System and active Xenon lights – add to a long list of safety features.

Passenger comfort is taken care of with a new five or seven inch central “infotainment” display screen and 12-speaker Dolby Digital surround sound.

Volvo says the initial annual target for the V60 is 50,000 vehicles, of which 90 percent will go to European buyers. It anticipates the five largest markets will be Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany.

The 2010 Volvo V60 will be built at the Torslanda plant in Sweden, with deliveries to begin in the coming months.

Volvo Car Australia’s Laurissa Mirabelli said the V60 will arrive in Australia next year but the range specifics still needed to be worked out.

“We haven’t finalised specifications nor have we finalised engine variants for this particular model because we’re not introducing it until the first quarter of next year, and even then it will be towards the end of the first quarter. There are still a lot of things that are up in the air,” Ms Mirabelli said.

She confirmed that the V60 would slot in between the V50 and the V70 wagon rather than replace one of them, as she said history had shown the importance of choice to Volvo customers.

“Part of the reason behind that is that when we introduced the XC60 we thought that it would probably eat into some of the XC90’s market share but what it actually did was it brought a new kind of customer to the Volvo dealership who perhaps hadn’t considered Volvo previously.

“When they turned around and looked at their three kids and at the XC60 compared with the XC90 they went: ‘Well, maybe we need to supersize it’.

“So people come in based on the V60 but then realise that perhaps the V50 which is slightly smaller or the V70 which is more your load-carrying wagon is more suited to their needs. That’s what we’ve found in the past and what we’re hoping to replicate with this one,” she said.




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