The New Dynasty of Volvo
It’s not often that I find a manufacturer’s entire new model line-up all in one place, ready for a day or two of test drives. And, as the icing on this automotive writer’s cake, this event is taking place in the foothills of one of the most scenic parts of Colorado, just west of Denver.
By Helmut Dostal
Since the brand’s acquisition by Geely in 2010, Volvo has gone on an aggressive renewal campaign. This has meant the development of an ever-expanding family of new models. Case in point: For 2018, Volvo will offer three SUVs, four wagons and three sedans. Four of these models are available in the increasingly popular eco-friendly, plug-in hybrid format.
Geared for adventure
Starting from our temporary home base at the Halcyon Hotel Cherry Creek in Denver, my drive partner Mark and I took the new S90, Volvo’s flagship sedan, out for a spin. A spirited opener to our day of testing, we found it to be a first-rate performer in both city traffic and while highway cruising towards the Colorado mountains.
Our next tester, the S90 luxury sedan, has a crisply sculpted exterior and is available in Canada in three engine configurations: 250-hp turbocharged, 316-hp turbo- and supercharged, and 400-hp turbo- and supercharged with an electric motor and combined torque of an impressive 472 lb-ft. With a long wheelbase and low roofline that combine to create elegant exterior, plus a stunning panoramic moon-roof that lets the sun shine in, it’s a winner.
Each model has all-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic transmission and a full complement of semi-autonomous driving features. The iconic light, Scandinavian feel of the birch-wood interior inlays are brand revival features, in my book. Deservingly, the comfortable seats and extra 4.5 inches of rear legroom are becoming legendary for the brand.
The next generation
Rookie of the year in the new line-up is the fashion-forward 60-Series, the cousin of the successful 90-Series. It’s available as a sedan (S60), wagon (V60), sporty cross-country version (V60CC) or SUV (XC60). My most-loved of the pack is the XC60 T8, Volvo’s twin-engine hybrid, which sports a turbo- and supercharged gasoline engine with an additional electric motor for a combined output of 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque. Sweet!
Ready, set, sprint
The XC60 T8 sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.3 seconds and gives us a nice choice of driving modes to test on these winding roads. The default setting is the hybrid mode, in which the gas engine and electric motor are engaged for optimum comfort, fuel consumption and performance. However, when we look for a bit more pep, we discover that the T8’s sport mode feature has what it takes to turn the XC60 into a ravening beast. Simply set the steering and braking to dynamic mode, click off the ESC and hold on to your bow tie!
The combination of a diligent performance, upgraded comfort (remember the great seats) and an almost exhaustive choice of driving options, such as hybrid, dynamic, off-road and selective all-wheel drive, makes for an SUV that’s easy for us to drive away in.
Back at the hotel, where dinner is served and the auto journalists are comparing notes, it’s obvious that the new crop of Volvos are going to get some well-deserved recognition.