VOLVO in South Africa launched a "new" S60 sedan, V60 estate and XC60 SUV in a wild and wet Cape Town last week.
Floods, wind and generally bad driving conditions were the order of the day and ideal testing conditions for the technologically advanced range of Volvos.
We say "new" because in reality the range is a strategic facelift of the line-up.
What is it?
The staggering 54model lineup beggars belief. Starting from R329600 for the entrylevel ST3 manual Essential right up to the XC60 T6 Geartronic AWD R-Design at R622600, there should be a model that fits most people's pocket, budget and driving style.
Power comes from petrol and diesel engines, ranging in size from 1.6 litres right up to three litres.
How does it look?
The range has undergone major "skin" changes to the front and rear.
Scandinavian design is exemplified by beautiful, elegant shapes and sleek surfaces without clutter and this can be seen in every aspect of Volvo design.
Inside, the attention to detail, use of authentic materials – such as wood and leather – and the easy-to-use controls contribute to the incommand driving experience.
What's it like to drive?
The extreme weather proved to be an ideal opportunity to drive in adverse conditions.
Slippery, muddy, and rock-strewn roads could not stop us from enjoying the ride and drive experience.
Power, overtaking and general driving dynamics were very good – but that's what we expect from Volvo!
Safety is one of Volvo's cornerstones and with the advanced technology incorporated as standard in most of their vehicles, it was reassuring in one or two incidents when visibility was poor we were able to experience these features first hand.
New advanced software, including more rapid vision processing, has now made it possible to extend Volvo's present detection and auto brake technology to cover certain cyclist situations as well.
The new pedestrian and cyclist detection feature with auto brake is equipped with a sensor system that scans the area ahead.
If a cyclist heading in the same direction as the car suddenly swerves in front of the car and a collision is imminent, there is an instant warning and full braking is applied.
The technology also detects if a pedestrian steps out into the road in front of the car. If the driver does not respond in time, the car can warn the driver and automatically activate the brakes.
Safe in the arms of Volvo!
Any special features?
We liked the Cross Traffic Alert system which uses the radar sensors at the rear end of the car to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from either side when reversing out of a parking space, like in a crowded mall. This is especially helpful in tight and crowded areas where the side view might be limited.
The function warns of traffic up to 30 metres from the car.
Smaller objects – like bicycles and pedestrians – may also be detected, but not always and only at a shorter distance.
Should you buy one?
Yes, but which one?
With the 54-model lineup it will be difficult for most dealers to stock the range.
Volvo is not the only manufacturer to have a bewildering array of vehicles.
Audi, Volkswagen, BMW and MercedesBenz are others who fall into this trap.
When will manufacturers learn that a bigger range of vehicles is not always better?
It is also very confusing for most buyers!
But back to Volvo's facelifted 60 range.
They are excellent and worth inclusion on the shopping list.
Volvo XC60 T6 six-speed automatic Geartronic transmission
Engine: 3 litres
Top speed: N/A
Fuel consumption: 10.7/100km (claimed combined)