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2002 Volvo All Wheel Drive Sneak Peak


As Seen in  http://www.swedespeed.com

Volvo's Movement Towards The Enjoyment of Life
First Drive: Volvo S60 AWD
Compiled by: George Achorn
Last edited: 08/29/01 - 09:00 AM

Rockport, ME -- As Volvo sees it, the Scandinavian brand has three driving factors. First, Protect Life emphasizes their focus on class leading safety and environmental protection. Long Life, the second factor of the Volvo strategy, emphasizes their goals of quality and longevity. The third, and newest facet, is Enjoy Life. This last one hints at some new excitement from the often conservative Swedish carmaker that promises to pump some newfound excitement into their automotive line starting right now with the introduction of the S60 AWD.

Volvo chose a sleepy little resort town on the coast of Maine as the geographical starting point of this new endeavor. While it may not be well known as the vacation spot of vacation spots, New Englanders and those familiar with it will tell you that those who spend their summers on Maine's bountiful coastline are relative experts on the enjoyment of life.

This last facet of Volvo's direction is a very interesting position for the traditionally staid brand to be taking, as it is the first real hint that they intend to play on the literally racier side of the European automotive business. Cars like the new S60 AWD show a clear movement in that direction that will most likely even result in a dusting off of the R nameplate.

That aside, the car in the limelight today is the S60 AWD. Volvo has chosen the 2.4T version of the highly successful S60 as the basis for the AWD, and that makes some strategic sense. This is the model in the Volvo line that will take all-wheel-drive to the highest number of new and traditional Volvo owners.

This car is the spiritual successor to the S70 AWD, a car not known for its high volume sales. However, the newer S60 has several things going for it that the 70 did not. First, the current sedan is a much more attractive choice for those shopping in the mainstream luxury segment that includes such stalwarts as the BMW 3-series and Audi A4. Second, unlike the S70 with its Viscous Coupling all-wheel-drive system, the S60 AWD has something completely new.

The S60 makes use of a totally different all-wheel-drive system, first shown in the Volvo PCC concept car and also used in other road-going cars like the Audi TT quattro. The system, developed by Swedish manufacturer Haldex, makes use of an electronically controlled wet multi-plate clutch and is particularly useful in tight packaging confines such as the transversely mounted engines found in modern Volvos.

The new Haldex system has two main strengths going for it. First, it is electronically controlled so it is ultimately programmable and works harmoniously with existing Volvo systems such as TRACS and more importantly ESP, the latter of which Volvo engineers have been unable to mate to the Viscous Coupling design.

Second, the new Haldex system is designed for prodigious power allotments. From the start, it has been engineered for use with some highly tuned engines, which makes it a perfect candidate for high-performance models that Volvo will most certainly be focusing on in the future.

Out on the road, the S60 AWD was subjected to several different types of driving surface. Smooth pavement gave way to gravel unpaved Maine back roads, where the car was subjected to standing full throttle launches that it delivered with plenty of composure and little if any wheel spin.

Later, Volvo personnel set up a small test course that included an emergency lane change followed by a slalom set up on wet grass in an effort to show off the capabilities of the system. For those who knew what they were doing, the car handled very well. As the car is not yet fitted with ESP, there were those who attempted the lane change faster than their abilities allowed, letting off of the gas in an effort to coast back into the original lane and bleed off some speed. What this resulted in was the car practically swapping ends. However, those familiar with AWD cars had no problem as driving AWD in most situations such as that is simply a matter of pointing the car and giving it throttle.

The issue this does raise though is the typical untaught driver who oversteps their bounds in an all-wheel-drive car. Typically seen in SUVs, it happens in cars as well and even the well-thought-out S60 showed that it could happen to the best of them. For this reason, Volvo is preparing to add ESP to the car in the near future, a feature that will help the car to correct itself in just such a spin.
On the grass and mud slalom the car was a simple exercise in control. Driving hard around the cones, like on the pavement it was not hard to kick the back out of the car by letting off the throttle. As the tail would clear the cones and point the S60 in the desired direction, one had simply to add throttle and go. The new Haldex system is really quite flawless.

All S60 AWDs, at least in the beginning, will be available only with the 5-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. While not the hardcore manual, the Geartronic offers the best of both worlds with a smooth working automatic that allows manual shifting through controls in the gear selector positioning.

With all of this talk regarding getting power to the ground, it is important to not lose site of the power source itself. Like the short-lived S70 AWD, the S60 AWD makes use of Volvo's 2.4-liter I-5 engine with a light pressure turbo system. This system, while a notch below the more highly-tuned T-5, is no slacker with 197-hp. While that may not seem like the highest figure in its class, the sweetness is in the peak torque delivery of 210 lb-ft. of torque at a very low 1800-rpm making the motor feel as strong as a 6-cylinder though with class-leading frugality in fuel consumption.

Outwardly, there are few subtle ways to discern an S60 AWD from a standard 2.4T. The "2.4T" badge itself is dropped and replaced with one that reads "AWD". Differing wheel design and a very slightly raised suspension are the only other outward clues as to the nature of the car.

Like many fine European manufacturers, Volvo spends a lot of time in designing their wheels and making them exude the Volvoness of the car as much as any grill or uniquely styled fender might. The basic wheels on the car are a 16-inch design called "Orbit", and they bear more than a passing resemblance to those found on the highly successful Cross Country model that is a benchmark in consumer's perceived correlation between Volvo and all-wheel-drive. The second offering, a 17-inch design named "Thor", is a direct evolution of the anthracite "Volans" equipped on the 850R models and also similar to those also packaged on the last Cross Country SE to be built on the first V70 platform.

North American cars riding on the 16-inch wheels will come equipped with Michelin MXV4s in 205 65 16 sizing, while tires on the 17-inch wheels have yet to be announced. The all-season Michelins will not be sold on the car in Europe, which will come with a full summer tire as snow tires are mandated in some markets on the other side of the pond.
The suspension on the S60 AWD is raised .6 inches in the front and 1.4 inches in the rear. The raise isn't very obvious to the casual observer, though a sharp eye will spot it. From a driving perspective, the suspension is typical of the newer Volvos. It manages to suck in many of the bumps and thumps of poorer roads, but remains quite firm in the turns, providing a well rounded package.

For consumers who aren't happy with the higher ride height, Volvo Cars North America will be selling a sport suspension package for the car that will dial it down to the standard S60 ride height in the front and only 1/2-inch higher in the rear. This should also firm up the ride for those of a more sporting mindset.

With all of this in mind, Volvo expects the S60 AWD with Geartronic as standard to sell at a $1750 premium over the S60 2.4T. While not the lowest price for AWD in its class, the combination of the Haldex system with Geartronic make the package a real value. To further emphasize that, Volvo dealers in North America will be offering the Winter Package free on the S60 AWD from their introduction through March.

Production of the cars is said to begin this week. The 2002 S60 AWD will debut in its home market of Sweden shortly, and begin to show up in North American dealers by October.

Once the cars begin to hit our shores, Volvo Cars of North America expects to sell 1,000 nationwide before the end of the year and another 5,000 to 6,000 in the 2002 calendar year.

If the S60 AWD is a glimpse of what is to come, let Volvo's enjoyment of life begin. This new Haldex system has plenty of potential for fitment in Volvo's whole range of cars if they so choose. In this particular case, the S60 is truly capable and from the not so subtle hints of those at Volvo, it is just a hint at things to come.
Specs: Volvo S60 2.4T
Engine 2.4-liter 5-cylinder 0-60mph N/A
Maximum Power 197-hp@6000rpm 60-0mph N/A
Maximum Torque 210 lb-ft.@1800rpm Fuel Economy N/A
Transmission 5-speed Automatic Base Price N/A
Drive Type all-wheel-drive Price As Tested N/A

Figures showing N/A are due to the fact that Swedespeed has not yet had the chance to fully test the S60 AWD.

Related Links

First Drive Gallery swedespeed.com
S60 AWD Gallery swedespeed.com
Volvo Cars volvocars.com
Englewood Volvo englewoodvolvo.com

... waves are here.
[email protected], The unofficial VOLVO Website  by Bernie Valentinetti.

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