2018 Volvo V90 shows station wagons still matter
Plus: Analysis on Alfa Romeo's potential F1 return and Jaguar's extreme F-Type.
The V60 is attractive, and the V40 will play in the ever-popular small crossover segment, but the larger V90 shows Volvo is again serious about station wagons as part of its identity and its bottom line.
Volvo didn't even make true wagons for a while as it transitioned from being a ward of Ford to ownership by Geely. Then Volvo had to transform itself into a modern automaker, and that meant focusing on crossovers and sedans. The V60's return for 2014 was welcomed, but we had to wait for the big one.
The 2018 V90 is based on Volvo's Scalable Product Architecture. The three-row XC90 SUV was the first Volvo built on these underpinnings and arguably the most important. With fuel prices low and the demand for function high, big utes are what consumers sought – especially in America. The S90 sedan was also critical. This is Volvo's new flagship, and it needs this upcoming product to reestablish credibility as a luxury brand.
Along the way, Volvo announced profit projections and ambitious plans for a factory in South Carolina. A company that seemed on the brink after being cast out by Ford suddenly had new life, mojo even. Still, there was a hole in the product lineup and cultural fiber that needed filling. The V90 does that.
Set to arrive in 2017, it will offer a plug-in hybrid system making about 400 horsepower, semi-autonomous driving technology, and top-shelf connectivity features. Yes, they're available in other Volvos, but the V90 shows the company can do all off this and remain true to its identity as a wagon maker.
Now what about that sports car concept we heard so much about?
News & Analysis
News: Alfa Romeo could return to Formula One.
Analysis: I support it strongly, as I wrote on Tuesday. As an enthusiast, it's hard not to get excited about one of the sport's iconic names returning. Alfa won the first two F1 titles in 1950-51. That's a long time ago, but it's a deep pedigree and it gives Alfa credibility.
Does that translate into a modern team that can be competitive? No. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles needs to spend serious dough to make it work, and securing Ferrari engines would be a must. Then the team has to develop its own identity and technology for the rest of the racecar. All of this makes me think, despite my initial enthusiasm and FCA chief executive Sergio Marchionne's provocative statements, it won't happen any time soon.
News: Jaguar details the F-Type SVR ahead of the Geneva Motor Show.
Analysis: We're seeing the F-Type reach its full potential. With a top speed of 200 miles per hour, it's the fastest "series production" car ever from Jaguar. This F-Type launches the SVR badging, and that means a supercharged V8 with 575 hp capable of propelling the coupe to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds. Plus, advanced aerodynamic and weight-reduction techniques make the SVR is a complete execution. Jaguar always said the F-Type would get more intense versions, and they allow the company to compete at higher levels with more exotic manufacturers. With slinky styling and a name that recalls the greatness of the E-Type, the F-Type could have skated on its looks. Instead, it's looking like an elite sports car.
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