212mph McLaren 720S officially revealed

High-tech, lightweight new Super Series model revealed as 650S replacement, on sale in May

The McLaren 720S will be a faster, lighter, roomier, more aerodynamic Super Series model than its predecessor, the 650S, with the brand promising it will “redefine expectations of supercar excellence”.

The car’s debut at the Geneva motor show comes just weeks after the Woking firm, which is increasingly seen as a serious threat to Ferrari’s supercar supremacy, announced a doubling of its 2016 volume and that its total sales in five years had passed 10,000 units.

The 720S will replace the 650S as McLaren’s new core model and is the first of 15 new-generation McLarens, half of which will be hybrids, promised by 2022 under CEO Mike Flewitt’s ambitious Track 22 development plan. The new model is McLaren Automotive’s first replacement for an existing model since opening for business in 2011 and putting its first car, the 12C (which became the 650S), into production in 2012. The 720S obeys all existing McLaren design rules. It is a two-seat supercar based on an all-carbonfibre tub, with aluminium space frames carrying the front and rear suspension, and it is powered by a twin turbocharged V8. However, within that envelope, it has been redesigned and updated in every detail. The exterior introduces a new ‘double skin’ door construction that eliminates the need for the prominent side air scoops previously thought essential in supercar design, while the engine grows to 4.0 litres, up from 3.8-litres, and now produces 710bhp.

McLaren has already begun taking orders, with the first cars due to be delivered in May. The entry price in the UK will be £207,900. 

All 400 units of the Launch Edition version have already been sold. McLaren expects to sell 1200 720S models this year including the 400 Launch Edition version and 1500 units from next year.


McLaren has further developed its carbonfibre chassis tub and upper structure, taking lessons from previous models, including the P1. Now dubbed Monocage II, the structure is cited by McLaren’s executive director of product development, Mark Vinnels, as the key to the 720S’s 1283kg dry weight, which undercuts all competitors and beats that of its predecessor by 18kg.

Monocage II’s stiffness has allowed McLaren’s designers to give the 720S remarkably thin A-pillars, a deep windscreen, B-pillars set well back and slim, glazed C-pillars, all of which contribute to first-class all-round visibility for the driver.

The body panels are made either of carbonfibre or superformed aluminium, and their novel shape plays a key role in the 720S’s impressive aerodynamic performance. Low down at the front there are anti-lift aero blades reminiscent of those on the P1, while ultra-compact LED headlights fit into frontal ‘eye sockets’ that allow room for vents to feed the air conditioning and oil cooler.

The body sides incorporate channels, formed by two skins and flowing past the dihedral doors, so cooling air can be directed along the body into the engine bay, uninterrupted by turbulence and resulting in a 15% improvement in cooling airflow. On the outer, lower part of the doors, there are F1-inspired blades that direct air away from the front wheel arches, assisting downforce and cutting drag. A big under-body diffuser at the rear sweeps up from the 720S’s flat floor almost to its rear wing, where the two elements frame the ultra-thin LED tail-lights.

Because the top of the 720S’s engine is a remarkable 120mm lower than that of the 650S, the car also has a low, teardrop-shaped engine cover that allows an uninterrupted flow of air over the roof to the hydraulically actuated rear wing, which has a DRS drag reduction setting for optimal straight-line performance, an Aero setting for downforce in corners and a Brake setting (which sets the wing a steep 56deg from the horizontal) to increase drag and improve chassis balance under heavy braking. The result, says McLaren, is that the wing has 30% more downforce and its aero efficiency (the ratio of downforce to drag) is doubled.


McLaren claims “new heights of performance” from its expanded turbo V8, now reengineered for a capacity of 3994cc, thanks to a 3.6mm lengthening of its stroke. The engine also has lighter pistons and conrods and a stiffer, lightened crank, plus twin-scroll turbochargers with faster-spooling turbines, capable of spinning at 145,000rpm, and electronically controlled wastegates. In total, 41% of the engine’s components are new.

A cast aluminium air intake system, visible through the mesh engine cover, feeds extra air to the more potent engine that now uses two injectors per cylinder. But rather than simply pumping in more fuel, the improved injection system gives more accurate metering, which helps to cut CO2 emissions by around 10%, to a class-leading 249g/km. Combined economy falls by a similar percentage to 26.4mpg.

The 720S’s peak output of 710bhp is produced at 7000rpm, while maximum torque of 568lb ft is delivered at 5500rpm. The engine, longitudinally mounted behind the occupants, drives as before through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox mounted end-on to the engine, but McLaren says further refinement of its control software brings smoother gearchanges at low speeds and faster, sharper shifts at higher speeds. The launch control has also been improved, and as before, there are three driving modes — Comfort, Sport and Track — that govern both engine and dynamics.


The chassis weight savings, allied to other reductions in mass, including 2kg from the brakes, 3kg from the electrics and 1.5kg from the airboxes, contribute as much to the 720S’s enhanced performance as its 11% power increase. The power-to-weight ratio is now 553bhp per tonne (up 15%) and, according to McLaren, beats the best in the segment.

As a result, McLaren claims a “crushing” 0-60mph time of just 2.8sec, 0-124mph in 7.8sec and a top speed of 212mph. The 720S will also dispatch a standing quarter-mile in 10.3sec, representing a blistering performance for a pure road car. To accompany the performance, the 720S has a carefully engineered engine note which can be further enhanced with an optional, louder, sports exhaust system.

Despite its performance potential, McLaren is adamant that its new car is as easily handled by ordinary drivers as it is by experts, with throttle response calibrated to provide “the optimum blend of immediate reaction and progressive comfort”.


Although only five years old, McLaren’s all-independent system of front and rear double wishbones has been completely re-engineered, both to allow wheel geometry changes and, thanks to a redesign of the uprights and wishbones, to cut unsprung mass by 16kg.

The 720S has an updated version of the Proactive chassis control electronics used by the 650S. The system features hydraulically interlinked dampers at each corner that remove the need for anti-roll bars, but the big improvement for the 720S’s system, which is dubbed PCCII, results from new software developed during a six-year collaboration with the University of Cambridge and using sophisticated information gathered by 12 new sensors and accelerometers. The result is even better contact between the tyres and the road surface.

The system can assess conditions and adjust the suspension every five milliseconds. It also includes a Variable Drift function, which allows you to slide the car without losing control, and McLaren Brake Steer, pioneered in F1, which enhances agility in corners and traction out of them by braking separate wheels. McLaren engineers have retained electro-hydraulic steering for the 720S, despite rivals’ adoption of electric only systems, because they still feel it gives superior “clarity of feel”.

Brakes are large, ventilated carbon-ceramic discs and the tyres are specially developed Pirelli P Zeros, 245/35 ZR19s at the front (up from the 650S’s 235s) and 305/30 ZR20s at the rear. McLaren claims a 6% increase in mechanical grip, which is about the same advantage as fitting track-focused Pirelli Corsas to a 650S.


Although the 720S closely follows the outgoing 650S in its major dimensions, there are differences between them. The thin pillars, the depth of the windscreen and the all-round glass give a commanding view to all points that modern supercar drivers will find surprising. The redesigned interior surfaces have been ‘pushed away’ from the occupants as much as possible, to further enhance the feeling of space.

Unlock the door and various instrument and courtesy lights go through a welcome sequence as the mirrors unfold. Opening the door also triggers an elaborate sequence on the upright TFT screen which changes its configuration according to driving mode. The driver can also ‘declutter’ the instruments, for example when on a track, via a special Slim mode. There’s a central 8.0in infotainment screen on the centre console, with ventilation settings carried along the bottom. The layout of switches, most of which are machined from aluminium, is simple.

Standard cabin trim and seats are plush but, as with previous models, colour and trim material upgrades are available. Emilio Scervo, chief engineer of the 720S, said: “We’ve done our utmost to exceed the expectations of demanding supercar owners in every area, but we’re especially proud of the driving environment. It’s light and airy, it’s comfortable and sophisticated — and we think it beats any rival.”

McLaren’s road car history

There are three distinct phases of McLaren road car manufacture: Bruce McLaren’s racing era that began in 1963 and during which he built an unfinished race-derived road car, the McLaren F1 era that also produced the SLR, which ended its production run in 2009, and the current McLaren Automotive, which began in 2010 and led to the launch a year later of the MP4-12C, soon shortened to 12C.

The 12C was widely praised for its dynamics and sophisticated design, which included a onepiece carbonfibre tub, but it encountered early teething troubles, mostly with infotainment and electronic control systems. The problems were rapidly brought to heel by current CEO Mike Flewitt, who won considerable plaudits from early owners by providing many of them with free upgrades. The company’s reputation and progress accelerated, especially when it launched the £900,000 P1 flagship that matches or exceeds Ferrari’s even more expensive LaFerrari.

Now the firm is raising the stakes with the 720S, its first replacement for a new-era model. Flewitt and his team expect it to take McLaren’s production to around 4500 cars a year, a total they claim have no wish to exceed.

Stay up to date with the latest from the Geneva motor show here:

Source: Autocar Online

Bentley boss lifts the lid on new electric sports car

Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e

If it’s given the green light for production, Bentley’s two-seat electric sports car will share its platform with Porsche and will be able to travel over 300 miles between charges

Bentley’s all-electric sports car would be four-wheel drive, have a range of around 450-500km (up to 310 miles), and be based on the Porsche-developed J1 platform – if it makes production.

That’s according to Bentley boss Wolfgang Dürheimer, who insisted that the EXP 12 Speed 6e concept was a technology demonstrator for opening the debate on a future electric-powered Bentley, but added: “If we do a two seater roadster this is how it will look.”

“I’m fully behind this show car and what it shows for our future DNA and tech potential,” Dürheimer said at the Geneva motor show.

He said any additional model in the Bentley range wouldn’t appear for another four years, and his personal preference as to what it could be “was not that important”.

He added: “I’m a businessman and I listen to the market, and what customers want. Would they buy it for €200,000? If I’m convinced about the business case, I’ll do everything to make it happen.

Dürheimer said that he was studying worldwide segments, including sports cars and other SUVs. He said that there was no decision to be made yet on what a fourth Bentley model line would be. For now, it was important for “customers to decide and define EV motoring in the Bentley spirit”.

When a decision does need to be made, however, it would appear to be between an even more luxurious and expensive SUV than the Bentayga, a crossover SUV smaller than the Bentayga, or the sports car. Whatever is chosen, it would likely introduce electric technology and the fact the Speed 6 has been seen twice now as a concept would make it seem that Bentley was building a serious case to bring it to market.

There would be no electric version if the next Continental GT, however, with the car set to be revealed later this year and was now in the final stages of development.

That car will get a plug-in hybrid version, however, as will every other Bentley in the range in the future.

Read more Geneva motor show news

Source: Autocar Online

Kahn Vengeance Volante – Aston Martin DB9-based sports car launched

Kahn Vengeance Volante drop-top sports car launched

British design house creates its own take on Aston Martin DB9 convertible one year after it launched a coupé version

The Vengeance Volante is a new drop-top sports car produced by Kahn Design that’s based on the Aston Martin DB9.

The Bradford-based company revealed its latest model at the Geneva motor show, one year after the coupé version was launched.

It gets similar design changes to its exterior, including a wide-mouthed front grille and a DB7 Zagato-inspired rear end.

The Vengeance Volante’s drivetrain is identical to that of the now discontinued DB9, so it uses a naturally aspirated Aston Martin V12 engine.

Inside, the seats and dashb are covered in black leather, with black trim and contrasting silver accents elsewhere around the interior.

Khan founder and boss Afzal Kahn said “Creating a convertible version of the Vengeance posed some challenges, given the unique coachbuilt nature of the vehicle, but we’ve overcome them in true British fashion.

“Following a detailed programme of testing, I’m delighted to be able to unveil the Vengeance Volante at this year’s show, and I’m confident it will receive the same enthusiastic reception as the original model did in 2016.”

The car is priced from £480,000, which is more than three times the predicted figure for the DB9 Volante’s successor, the Aston Martin DB11 Volante.

Source: Autocar Online

New Alpine A110: what’s it like inside?

Alpine A110

We climb aboard the new sports car to get a view from the driver’s seat

The new Alpine A110 is improbably compact: 4.18m long, 1.80m wide and 1.25m high.

Which makes it surprising that I could climb in (and out) with such ease, given that I’m 192cm tall. Sure, the seat was set back as far as it would go, but I had enough leg, head and shoulder room to be as comfortable as I could wish for – and for someone else of my own height to climb aboard and sit next to me.

The racing seat, notable for weighing half as much as the one used in the Mégane RS and for not having any height or recline adjustment that can be done on the spot and without recourse to a spanner, was also comfortable. I was only in it for five minutes, but it felt as cushioned as you’d hope for, given that Alpine is promoting the A110 as a cross-continent car.

The controls are all where you’d want them to be in a driver’s car: close, in sight and to hand. The digital dash is particularly smart, changing display and colours as you switch between driving modes, all the way up to an F1-style rev counter that builds and closes in from both sides towards a central point.

Be in no doubt: despite the low weight and probable price, corners don’t appear to have been cut extensively. The fit and finish of the materials on this launch-edition car – destined for display in Geneva – were top notch, but then you’d hope a car company would have the wisdom to make sure that was the case (although, amazingly, this isn’t always true). A glovebox is the only obvious omission, a concession to the compact size of the car.

One surprise is how hard it is to see the front end of the bonnet from the driver’s seat, especially given my height. You sit low, for sure, but other people trying it for size also confirmed they have a similar issue. I’ll reserve judgement for now, as you never quite know how you’ll feel once you’re focused on driving rather than trying to take everything in quickly, but it’s a potential negative, given how important it is to know exactly where a car is when you are trying to drive it swiftly.

Perhaps most important, the A110’s cabin bears comparison to the Porsche 718 Cayman. It isn’t quite as luxurious, perhaps, and with switches and buttons that aren’t quite as solid in the hand, but there’s no denying it has a look, character and charm all of its own.

Read more Geneva motor show news

Source: Autocar Online

Alpine managing director Michael van der Sande on the new A110

The new Alpine A110 has been revealed at the Geneva motor show, which has already sold out across Europe

The new Alpine A110 has been revealed at the Geneva motor show, so we’ve caught up with Michael van der Sande, the managing director at Alpine. 

Is the new A110 a homage to the original?

“You can’t deny the history, but our priority was to pick up elements of the past, not create a pastiche. In essence, that means a lightweight sports car that is fun to drive. Easy to say, harder to do, but we believe our roots have led is to something special. Agility is the differentiator.”

What about price?

“We’ll announce it in time, but around €55-60,000. It will be right for the car’s performance and quality. We have been careful to tread a fine line; we could have cut costs in the interior, for instance, but we wanted a car you could drive all day, not a stripped back sports car. By the same token we couldn’t just throw carbon fibre at it, or do all-bespoke switchgear.”

How have pre-sales of the 1955 launch cars gone?

“Amazingly well. Across Europe the allocations are sold out – we just have a couple of cars for the UK, and an allocation for Japan, where homologation means sales won’t start until 2018.”

What will the dealer network look like?

“It will evolve. We’ll start with 60-70 in Europe, with six or seven in the UK. Most will be shared Renault dealerships, but with an Alpine space, but in time we may have more of our own showrooms. First we must sell this car, and then see if investment in other lines is justified.”

So we should expect derivatives and other model lines?

“A family only makes sense if the DNA of the first family member is good. We have countless ideas and opportunities for the future, but first we must focus on this car. We have more ideas than we do R&D money at the moment.”

Were right-hand drive markets always part of the plan?

“Yes. I can’t imagine this kind of car succeeding without sales in UK, Japan and, in time, New Zealand and Australia. We need to play in the markets of all car lovers.”

What are you sales goals?

“I’m not going to answer that, but the technology has been developed to sell in single digit thousands. We as good as have 1955 pre-orders – now we plan to maintain single digits of thousands of sales every year. That’s the kind of car that it is.”

Will you race and rally the car?

“Alpine has history in both, of course, and in recent years we have won our class at Le Mans. We haven’t decided our 2018 plans yet, but the A110 is clearly a car that lends itself to going round a racetrack. Let’s see. Our story is one of little cars beating more powerful ones – it would be good to continue that.”

Source: Autocar Online

2017 Renault Koleos SUV to arrive in Europe this June

2017 Renault Koleos SUV shown in Paris

Following its launch in Asia, the Koleos will go on sale in Europe this summer priced from about £23,000

The Renault Koleos will arrive in Europe this June following a strong opening sales period in Asia.

The new large SUV’s arrival was confirmed in Geneva by Renault sales and marketing boss Thierry Koskas. “It has been successfully launched in Asia and I am sure it will be in the same in Europe,” he said.

The Koleos is built on the CMF C/D platform, which is shared with the similarly sized and priced Nissan X-Trail, as well as larger Renault-Nissan models, including Renault’s Espace, Talisman, Kadjar, and the Nissan Qashqai.

While specifications for Europe are yet to be confirmed, engines offered in Asia are two petrol and two diesel units, with power outputs ranging between 128bhp and 173bhp. These are available with either a six-speed manual or Renault-Nissan’s X-Tronic CVT ‘box.

Unlike with the Mégane, Renault doesn’t offer a hybrid model Koleos further down the line.

Both front and all-wheel drive Koleos models are available, with the latter offering switchable FWD and AWD modes, as well as full-time AWD for low-speed, low-grip conditions. Renault claims approach and departure angles of 19 and 26 degrees respectively and a ground clearance of 213mm.

The Koleos is one of the longer models in the Renault range at 4670mm – 221mm longer than the Kadjar. Renault claims ‘record-breaking interior space’, as well as rear knee room of 289mm.

In the cabin, Renault’s R-Link 2 infotainment system is available in 7-in landscape or 8.7in portrait setups, while the dials are replaced by a standard-fit touchscreen displaying driving data. Bluetooth and USB connectivity are included as standard, and voice recognition also features.

Renault claims a widespread use of premium and soft-touch materials in the cockpit of the Koleos. As featured on the Megane, optional, personalisable interior mood lighting is also scattered around the interior. A panoramic sunroof over the front and rear seats will be available, however Renault couldn’t confirm whether it would be standard-fit or an optional extra.

Optional extras include a heated steering wheel and windscreen, electronic seat adjustment, heated and ventilated front and heated second row seats, reversing camera and all-round parking sensors, remote starting, and a Bose speaker system.

A wide range of driver aids are available, including AEB, lane departure, traffic sign recognition, blind spot and safe distance warnings, tiredness detection, and easy park assist, either as standard or as options.

The new Koleos will be built in the existing Koleos plant in Busan, South Korea, for all markets except China. Chinese-market Koleos models will be built in Renault’s Wuhan plant in China.

Based on the Kadjar’s similarity in price to the Nissan Qashqai, we expect the Koleos to follow suit with Nissan X-Trail pricing. Therefore a starting price of around £23,000 is likely.

Source: Autocar Online

Ssangyong XAVL concept previews seven-seat SUV

The XAVL concept will spawn a production version in 2020 which will sit above the Korando and below the Rexton in Ssangyong’s lineup

The Sssangyong XAVL concept has been revealed at the Geneva motor show previewing a new seven-seat mid-size SUV.

The concept is expected to become a production model in the future sitting above the Korando – which has also been revealed at Geneva – but below the forthcoming Rexton in Ssangyong’s lineup. A production version of the XAVL would not be released until 2020.

Ssangyong announced its plans of a new model blitz by launching three new models over the next three years and increasing global production to 500,000 units per year. 

The three models are thought to be an all-new Rexton replacement, a Rexton-based pickup and a third-generation Korando. A production version of the XAVL would be an addition to those models already planned.

The concept is a new iteration of the five-seat XAV concept from the 2015 Frankfurt motor show and is said to be inspired by the second-generation Korando from the 1990s.

It’s a two-wheel drive SUV and comes with a choice of 1.5-litre petrol engine which emits 150g/km – 170g/km of CO2 emissions depending on specification, as well as a 1.6-litre diesel which emits 120g/km – 150g/km of CO2.

The new concept comes with new connected car technology that can control the navigation, heating and air-con, and there’s also a 10.25in LCD display.

Ssangyong also says it comes with new safety aids which includes advanced emergency braking, lane change assist, lane keep assist, high beam assist and rear cross traffic alert.

The concept is 4630mm long, 1866mm wide, 1640mm high and has a 2775mm wheelbase. Those dimensions pitch it in the same market as cars like the Skoda Kodiaq and Nissan X-Trail but a production version would likely undercut those cars, which start at £21,495 and £22,800 respectively.

The Ssangyong stand in Geneva is also showing the facelifted Korando, which comes with a refreshed design, more equipment and extra safety features. A new Korando will be introduced in 2019.

Read more about the Geneva motor show here

Source: Autocar Online

Toyota i-TRIL previews autonomous electric city car

Toyota i-TRIL

The concept has three seats, no pedals, autonomous technology and a claimed electric range of 185 miles

The Toyota i-TRIL electric city car concept has been revealed at the Geneva motor show, showcasing the manufacturer’s vision of urban mobility in 2030.

It has been developed as an electric alternative to small city cars, and features a one-plus-two seating layout as well as ‘Active Lean’ and autonomous technology.

The rear-wheel drive concept has a driving range of “more than 185 miles” between charges and has no pedals.

It is instead controlled through drive-by-wire technology which is operated through left and right-hand control nodes that are said to work like “computer mice or game controllers”.

It features a hinge between the rear axle and cabin that allows the body and front tyres to lean into corners because the front wheels and wings are separate from the main body.

When the car is in autonomous mode, the left or right side of the instrument panel lights up when it is about to corner to show which way the cabin is about to lean.

Toyota says an angle of 10 degrees of lean allows better stability and grip. It gets 19in wheels at the front and 20in wheels at the back, and there’s 25 degrees of front wheel steering which gives the i-TRIL a four-metre turning circle.

The butterfly opening doors are hinged on sloping front pillars, but Toyota says they can be opened within a regular parking space, and when they do open a section of the flooring is removed to allow easier access in and out of the car. 

Inside, there is no switchgear or instrument binnacle – when the car is in manual mode it instead uses a head-up display to show the driver information, with a focus on voice command to activate functions. The rear is wider than the front to accommodate a two-seat bench.

The i-TRIL is 3000mm long and 1510mm wide, with front and rear tracks at 1200mm and 600mm. That makes it bigger than the Renault Twizy – which is 2320mm long and 1190 wide – but smaller than a Hyundai i10 – which is 3665mm long and 1660mm wide.

Source: Autocar Online

FCA's Marchionne: merger with GM would still bring "huge benefits"

Sergio Marchionne

Following yesterday’s announcement that PSA will buy Opel/Vauxhall, Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne has spoken about how it could affect a possible FCA merger with GM

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) boss Sergio Marchionne has said that the sale of Opel to the PSA Group is likely to mean a loss of 15 to 20% of the synergies that might have been available from a merger between FCA and General Motors (GM) – but he still believes such a deal would have “huge benefits”. 

Linking with a manufacturer from China would be no compensation, he believes. “The benefit of a merger is that you can bring down the costs where you operate,” he says. “A Chinese deal might be the thing to do if you’re thinking 20 years out, but it’s not going to fix the next five years.” 

Marchionne was scathing about GM’s move yesterday of citing “geopolitical uncertainties” as one of its reasons for quitting Europe. “We’re paid to manage,” he said. “You can’t go dividing the world into geopolitical areas.” He pointed out that both GM and FCA did business in Latin America, which are hardly paragons of stability.

He also confirmed that he has no intention of selling any of FCA brands, which include which include FiatChryslerAlfa Romeo and Jeep. When asked at the Geneva motor show, Marchionne confirmed FCA would not sell anything. “After me, you can do what you want,” he said, “but while I’m here nothing will be sold.”

Marchionne said there was only one trend that was a certainty – that small-capacity diesel engines were dead. “Everything else is fair play,” he said. “The question is not over the technology, but over the customer’s ability to afford it.” 

Read all the news from the Geneva motor show

Source: Autocar Online

2017 Volvo XC60 set to take on Jaguar F-Pace

Swedish manufacturer has evolved the big-selling mid-size SUV to battle premium rivals, such as the Jaguar F-Pace and Audi Q5

The launch of the second-generation Volvo XC60 is set to further accelerate the firm’s dramatic sales growth, with the all-new car set to be pitched against the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace and Mercedes-Benz GLC in the booming mid-size SUV sector.

Volvo sales have risen for the past three years, with the growth led by the popularity of the XC90, S90 and V90. Combined sales of the 90-series models grew 125% last year compared with 2015.

However, the outgoing XC60, which was launched in 2008, hinted at the potential appeal of the new model by setting a new sales record in 2016, accounting for 161,092 units of Volvo’s 534,332 total annual sales.

The company’s boss, Martin Lundstedt, expects the model to be the class leader. “This new XC60 will also become European best selling SUV in its class and a worthy successor of the first model.”

The new XC60 sits on Volvo’s SPA large car platform, which will underpin all of the firm’s 60 and 90 models, including the all-new S60 saloon and V60 estate that are expected early next year. The move to the new platform has allowed Volvo to make the new SUV longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, without adding weight.

It is 4690mm long (up 62mm on the current car), has a 2865mm wheelbase (up 91mm), 1902mm wide (up 12mm) and 1658mm high (down 14mm). At the same time, practicality has been increased with more cabin space, especially in the second row of seats, and a greater ground clearance engineered, while the design retains a more dynamic, ‘cab-back’ look.

The XC60 will go on sale following this week’s Geneva show reveal, with deliveries expected from September. At launch, it will be offered with the familiar 187bhp D4 and 232bhp D5 2.0 diesels, plus the 251bhp T5 2.0 petrol and 401bhp T8 petrol-electric hybrid unit. Few performance figures have been revealed beyond the T8’s 0-62mph time of 5.3sec.

All launch, models will be four-wheel drive and linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Manual and front-wheel drive models will arrive later, as well as new diesel and petrol engines and possibly an economy-focused three-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid.

In an effort to enhance both the dynamic set-up and noise and vibration isolation, the XC60 has double-wishbone front suspension and a rear multi-link arrangement. Height-adjustable air suspension will be offered as an option, offering an additional 60mm of travel up and down.

Inside, the XC60 is heavily inspired by the XC90’s award winning cabin, with all versions getting the same central digital control screen and all but entry-level Momentum models having a 12.3in digital instrument display. The infotainment controls have also been updated, to offer greater clarity and ease of use; these changes will also be applied to the XC90 later this year, and may be retrospectively updated on cars fitted with the system.

The cabin also has a large, sculpted central dash cowling, which will be offered in several designs of metal or wood finish, and several clever storage solutions, including laptop storage under the rear seats.

This being a Volvo, there is also a suite of safety and self-driving equipment, both standard and optional. Standard kit includes automatic braking if the car senses a potential collision up to 37mph and steering support if the car detects either a head-on collision or any imminent accident. Optional systems that can hold the car in lane while keeping a safe distance from other vehicles up to 80mph, monitor traffic as you come out of junctions and brake the car if necessary or detect an imminent rear impact and pre-tension the seat belts in preparation are also available. 

Volvo’s senior vice president for design Thomas Ingenlath said “We designed an entire new interior for the XC60 based on the foundation of driftwood, with suggests forward motion and is part of the integral design of the interior.

“What makes Volvos new interior so outstanding is the blend of architecture which shows Scandavinan prowess at its heart. The XC60 is not an SUV to look down upon others.

“It is energetic and well trained, this is not a bodybuilder, this is an athlete. The XC60 extends the horizontal lights into a baseline. Finally the rear gets interlocked with a solid metal belt, this is the golden piece that gives a reassuring feel at the back.”

Prices for the XC60 are expected to rise to be comparable with those of its premium rivals, starting at around £30,000, but Volvo hopes to gain an edge by offering a greater amount of standard kit, including a raft of active safety equipment. Sportier R-Design models are expected to dominate UK sales ahead of the Momentum and Inscription trims.

In focus – How does the XC60 differ from the XC90?

Don’t call the new XC60 a scaled-down XC90 in front of Volvo’s design chief Thomas Ingenlath, unless you want to cause great offence. 

Volvo XC60 above, Volvo XC90 below

He’s honest enough to acknowledge that, with the current car selling at greater volumes each and every year for the past nine years, “there was no call for a revolution”, but he is also proud of the new car’s more dynamic, driver-focused appeal.

That appeal is best expressed by a look at the side profile, where you can really see the changes from the XC90: the more sharply angled windscreen line, the wheels pushed as close to the ends as they’ll go and the side profile curving in around the driver. The sculpting at the foot of the wraparound doors has the effect of absorbing mass and pulling the body into the centre of the car to give it a sportier, more dynamic presence than the more laid-back design of the XC90.

If you want a Volvo SUV with greater design differentiation, though, you won’t have long to wait: the XC40, the SUV family’s smallest, sportiest and cheekiest sibling, is likely to launch this autumn on Volvo’s new CMA platform.

Q+A Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President of Design, Volvo

How does the new XC60 fit with the standard set by the XC90?

“The XC90 sits much higher and, for some people, feels too big. The XC60 tapers in up the cabin, making it more focused on the people in it, and making the cabin less cavernous. The XC60 is an SUV that has no pretensions to leave you looking down on other road users; you sit in it, not above everyone. It’s a personal car you can drive without feeling like you are in a big chunk of sheet metal.”

The new XC60 doesn’t look like it has made the same kind of leap as the old XC90 to the current one. Would you agree?

“Yes. But it didn’t need to – the XC60 has been constantly improved throughout its life, and has sold more units in every year it has been on sale. Customers have been happy with what we are offering, so there was no need for a revolution. It was about what we could add, from materials to space to weight. Everything is about improving a concept that is already winning.”

How did the customer clinics go for XC60?

“I don’t even remember, I guess because the feedback was good. Customer clinics can be hard. For the XC90 we had some hard times. The best bit about them was the executive committee stayed strong and stuck to what it believed in. This time I don’t remember anything from them.”

You’ve used some new interior materials, such as new wood finishes and leathers. Why?

“Some of the wood materials are a big step forward. There’s a driftwood option that captures a real worn, faded wood that is full of character. We have used these materials sparingly but in the right places, such as on the dash where it is always visible. You can’t cover a car such as this in wood – you must build to a budget. But we’ve used the best materials in all the right places. It’s very Volvo. It’s very sophisticated. The maroon brown leather is also stunning; as technology moves on, we can do some really exciting stuff.”

Is leather still the de facto premium material?

“Leather is a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I hope we can break that. It’s the premium choice because we’ve told ourselves that is the case. Once high gloss wood was the only material customers wanted, but now a matt finish is acceptable. It’s about making alternative materials of acceptable quality and then winning customer acceptance. Our woods are really special; I like that there are some very high quality wools coming onto the market; it could be interesting. I’m also intrigued by how sportswear has become top-end fashion. There’s a Prada sportswear range now; using modern fabrics and plastics you can have durable and breathable materials that can be grained with modern structures. It could be another route.”

Does this mean other Volvos will follow the path established by the XC90?

“No. Every other car we launch now has to make a dramatic leap. The customer base for XC60 has been great, and we didn’t want to change what they love. But for every other new Volvo in the 40 or 60 range that we have planned, there will be plenty of revolution.”

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Source: Autocar Online

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