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Volvo S60 Performance Project nears blast off

Boosted: German tuning house Heico provided the S60 Performance Project show car with a rorty quad-exhaust system designed to accentuate the S60 T6’s burble.

Oz-only hot Volvo S60 should get green light after strong public response at AIMS

3 Aug 2011

VOLVO Car Australia (VCA) is set to confirm the production future of its image-building S60 Performance Project sports sedan inside two months after it got the thumbs up from show-goers at the recent Australian International Motor Show.

The Swedish company’s local arm has said all along that the car – a local initiative – was displayed at AIMS to test the waters and gauge public interest in a more performance-oriented S60.

VCA managing director Matt Braid told GoAuto this week that the response had been strong enough for Volvo to make steps to bring the car to the local market.

“The reaction has been good about a hundred people have registered interest,” he said. “Based on that, plus what we’ve heard elsewhere, and obviously the reaction on various websites and feedback we’re getting, we’re pretty much keen to try it.

“We’re at the stage now of saying ok, what’s it going to take to get it across the line?“(We have a) few hurdles to jump over yet, but the key thing was feedback and feedback’s been really positive, so on that basis we want to push forward with it.”

While Mr Braid stopped short of officially giving the green light to production of the Australia-only car, he said to expect an announcement in the next two months, closely followed by timing and pricing, should it get the go ahead.

18 center imageLeft: Volvo Car Australia managing director Matt Braid.

Mr Braid told GoAuto at AIMS in July that each member of the limited production run would be likely to command a price premium of about $10,000 over the flagship S60 T6 R-Design AWD on which it based, which retails for $69,150 plus on-road costs.

The four-door would sit at the top of the S60 line-up and give it a more legitimate rival to the high performance versions of key rivals like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-class.

It would also give the company’s model range – renowned more for its safety credentials than sportiness – a much needed ‘halo’ car.

The performance project from the show sat on the same modified springs as the S60 T6 R-Design , which are 15mm lower and 15 per cent firmer than the standard S60 T6.

On top of other features it gained from the S60 R-Design, such as sports seats and stiffer suspension bushes, were a number of unique, locally-fitted performance tweaks.

Among these was an engine software upgrade courtesy of Volvo’s motorsport partner Polestar that bumped the car’s turbocharged petrol six up by 18kW to 242kW and boosted peak torque by 40Nm to 480Nm.

These figures were claimed to give the hi-po sports sedan 22 per cent more performance “at various parts of the rev range.”

German tuning house Heico provided unique 19-inch alloy wheels shod with Pirelli P-Zero rubber and a rorty quad-exhaust system designed to accentuate the T6’s burble.

When asked by GoAuto if the performance project could be extended to other models in the car-makers local range – the recently released V60 wagon range for instance – Mr Braid said that it was at this stage an S60-only proposition, but that additional variants could not be ruled out.

“You never know,” he said. “At the moment it’s purely an S60 project, but again, if the feedback’s there, if the customers are there ... if it helps us bring more people to the brand and create that performance halo that we want then we’ll look at everything.”

While the special-edition was an initiative of Volvo Australia, Mr Braid said there was no reason why it could not translate to overseas markets, although it had not yet been discussed.

Meanwhile, newly-released VFACTS industry sales figures show that Volvo recorded 462 sales in July, down from its record-breaking 638 sales in June.

With 3244 sales year to date, the company is behind the pace of its 7000 annual sales target stated by Mr Braid in April, although strong demand for the S60 and V60, as well as recent facelifts on both the XC60 and XC90 SUVs, mean it is likely to comfortably top last year’s result of 4945 sales.

After the S60 performance project, the next likely addition to the Scandinavian car-maker's local range should be the ground-breaking V60 plug-in hybrid diesel-electric car, which is still projected for local arrival by early 2013.

Set to be Volvo’s first EV in Australia, the V60 is billed as the world’s first vehicle to combine a diesel-electric hybrid drive system with plug-in recharging technology, differentiating it from existing diesel-powered hybrid concepts such as Peugeot’s 3008 Hybrid4 and 508 RXH, and the Mercedes-Benz E300 BlueTEC hybrid.

The production-ready PHEV is claimed to return fuel consumption of just 1.9L/100km and CO2 emissions of only 49g/km.

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