Volvo's latest wagon is a new take on a familiar recipe
Today, in Sweden, the 2019 Volvo V60 Cross Country was unveiled, the latest Volvo wagon to follow the recipe dictated by the original 850-based Cross Country of 20 years ago. Add a lift kit, some plastic cladding along the rockers and wheel arches, and standard all-wheel-drive, and voila, you are ready to go from förort to forest (that's suburb in Swedish.) Here are some interesting design features/questions possessed and posed by this jacked wagon.
Volvo's Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) underpins all of its larger vehicles, which includes everything in the 60 and 90 Series including V90, V90 Cross Country, XC90, V60, and XC60. The introduction of this wagon completes the wholesale rejuvenation of those series that began when Volvo introduced the XC90 in 2015, a full-on re-do that was one major outcome of the company's acquisition by Chinese auto giant Geely in 2010. "We've rolled out the whole SPA lineup with V60 Cross Country," says Volvo vice president of design Thomas Ingenlath.
Increasing ride height is a tried-and-true means for making an all-wheel-drive wagon appear more aggressive and capable. This tactic has been used by wagon-makers for decades, most famously by Subaru starting 25 years ago with the 1994 Legacy Outback wagon. But the practice really dates back nearly 15 years prior to the 1980 AMC Eagle wagon, a prescient outlier, like many of AMC's oddball models. The V60 CC is 3 inches taller than its non-CC sibling. Interestingly, that's 20-percent higher than the lift on the V90 CC (versus the standard V90.) Maybe the V60 CC is meant to be more active?
The V60 may be our favorite contemporary Volvo design, not only because of a preternatural affection for wagons in general and Volvo wagons in particular. It's because it seems to reflect everything that is right about the brand's current language: Stylish but not fussy. Immediately recognizable as a member of the Volvo family. And hosting a number of compelling details — like its scalloped flank, C-pillar beltline uptick, and heritage ersatz boxy rear liftgate — that deepen appreciation on the second or third look. The heightened ride and blacked-out fender trim gives the V60 CC the look of larger sidewalls on its big wheels, something we think adds to its allure, and makes us wish for a Volvo Factory Wagon Rally Racing Series.
Unlike other European carmakers who seem happy to produce small, medium, and large versions of the same basic shape, Volvo takes individuated design very seriously, creating vehicles that connect with their mission and intended demographic. Look at the difference between the rugged and youthful XC40 and the stately and mature XC90. All Volvos take advantage of details like scale to create distinction. The V60 CC is 7 inches shorter than the V90 CC, and this distinction pays off in its sportier, shorter overhangs and more upright stance. "They can say that the V60 CC is just a smaller version of the V90 CC," says Ingenlath. "But if you look at the design, the proportions get another kick with the smaller scale."
One of the coolest features on the V60 wagon was the "City Weave Textile" upholstery, a nubbly grey plaid cloth seat fabric that is available on the entry-level Momentum trim package. If the V60 CC is like the V90 CC, it will come in fewer, and more upscale, trim levels. The press images for the CC show only leather upholstery. We are starting a campaign to bring back cloth seats. Maybe even Velour? Isn't Velour a Swedish invention? It certainly sounds like it is.
Polestar has spun off into its own, separate, electric-powered, luxury sub-brand, but Volvo has confirmed that it will still offer performance upgrades, "Engineered by Polestar," to Volvo products that have battery power. "This is how we will do this link," says Ingenlath. "Polestar will do electric tuning for T8 (plug-in hybrid) drivetrains for the enhancement of these cars." Though the V60 CC will be launched with the turbocharged T5 engine, Volvo has also confirmed that it will be available in mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid (T8) variants. Does this mean we'll see a Polestar Engineered V60 CC? Probably not. But, returning to our Factory Rally Wagon fantasies, we can dream.
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