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The Mercury Cars Guide : December 12th 2009
20--- Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, December 12, 2009 Volvo sinks teeth into cool younger market PRIME PLACEMENT: Volvo models, like the C30, above, the XC60, right, and the V50, have gained uber-cool'' status due to exposure in the Twilight films. Vampires and Volvos are now friends. Not since hit TV series The Saint back in the 1960s has the Swedish carmaker enjoyed such celebrity. Neil McDonald reports T HANKS to some well-timed product placements in the hit Twilight vam- pire movies, Volvo's XC60 and C30 have catapulted the brand into the uber-cool status. The unusual tie up has surprised Volvo Cars Australia managing director, Alan Desselss, but he's not complaining. Launching the new 2.0D turbo-diesel range this week, Desselss, says the popularity of the gothic Twilight movies among young people was a good thing for Volvo's squeaky-clean image. ''Anything that lifts the cars into public consciousness in a good way is good for the brand,'' he says. ''But I'm a little surprised that a new generation of young people now see Volvos as very cool.'' Desselss is hoping some of the celebrity will rub off on improved sales for the refreshed C30, S40 and V50, particularly among female fans of the movie. For 2010, Volvo Cars Australia has axed the expensive five-cylinder turbo-diesel in the trio and replaced it with a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel shared with some Ford models. Rejigging the engines has also helped trim prices. For 2010, the 2.0-litre diesel in the C30 will set you back $37,950, a massive saving of $7000. S40 and V50 pricing has come down $3500 for the same engine. The S40 is $42,950 and V50 now $45,950. Like the Ford Focus, the Volvo 2.0D is mated to a six-speed dual-clutch Getrag gearbox and develops 100kW/320Nm. The Volvo trio is still available with the two petrol engines, a 125kW/230Nm 2.4-litre in the S and LE and 169kW/320Nm 2.5-litre turbo- charged T5 version. Desselss believes the 2.0D volumes will still be relatively small but the range is now more price competitive. ''Spec for spec we compare well to our German rivals,'' he says. Desselss describes the 2.0D as a ''frugal diesel rather than a performance diesel''. In the C30, the diesel returns a combined fuel consumption figure of 5.9 litres/100km and CO2 emissions of 156g/km. In the S40 and V50 the combined fuel figure is 6.0 litres/100km and 159g/km. on the road THE Swedes don't bang their tambourines as loudly as the Germans when it comes to cars. Volvo is happy to let the three Germans squabble over market share and who's better, while they just keep churning out solid, safe - and today --- very desirable cars. The C30, S40 and V50 are prime examples of Volvo's softly, softly approach. Sales are not huge here but the more time you spend in them the more they make sense, which is why the D5 five-cylinder diesel in these models just did not add up. With the arrival of a much more sensible 2.0-litre turbo-diesel and six-speed Powershift gearbox, not only have prices come down but the sweet little engine is a better match to the cars. We opted for the S40 2.0D, thinking it would be the volume seller. However, Volvo's Alan Dessels, says the C30 2.0D is likely to be the most popular. Even so, in the family oriented S40 the little oil-burner is a treat. There are no surprises with power or torque. With 100kW and 320Nm it's lineball with other small Euro cars. It will hit 100km/h in 9.6 seconds and returns 5.9 litres/100km. However the Ford/Volvo diesel is particularly quiet and refined. There is no discernible turbo-lag, and once cruising around 100km/h engine and road noise is suitably muffled. The S40 2.0D feels a better balanced car than the five-cylinder diesel. The engine is really at its best above 70km/h. It will deliver a solid shove in the back when overtaking and does not feel as though it will run out of steam. The cabin is typically Volvo --- well executed, if a little plain. Families with small children may prefer for the stylish V50 rather than the sedan because of its more useable space. A tip for buyers --- we'd bypass the clammy weird rubberised seat upholstery in favour of leather --- even if it costs an extra $3025. Volvo lines up with emerging Chinese firm NEIL McDONALD T HE odd couple of the car world is about to take on the world. With emerging Chinese car- maker Geely the ''preferred bid- der'' for the Ford-owned Volvo Car group, Volvo Cars Australia managing director Alan Desselss believes it will be a perfect fit. ''It will also be good for Volvo's expansion into countries like China,'' he says. ''I see no downsides. Geely is the preferred candidate and from our dealer network it's very encouraging.'' Geely has big plans for Volvo. It wants to expand the Swedes' volume in China to 200,000 sales a year and ramp-up global sales. Volvo sells about 13,000 cars a year there and last year sold 374,000 cars globally. Geely also has plans to expand Volvo production in China with a new plant that will have a capacity of more than 250,000 vehicles a year. Desselss says being absorbed into another well-known brand like Nissan or BMW would have raised problems over dealer structures. ''For the dealers I see the Geely situation as a lot more stable,'' he says. Desselss likens the Geely- Volvo situation to the Indian Tata group's takeover of Jaguar. ''They are well-funded com- panies and in Tata's case, it has respected the Jaguar brand,'' he says. Like Ford, if the deal goes ahead Geely will get access to Volvo's safety technology, which should help overcoming a West- ern perception that Chinese cars are unsafe. But what does Volvo get from Geely? ''The most important thing is to allow Volvo to continue to prosper and I'm sure that will happen,'' Desselss says. Volvo gets better access to one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. ''The Chinese market is the biggest growth market, so there are all those opportunities there,'' he says. ''Then again from Geely's point of view, and certainly what they've been saying in the press, their intentions for Volvo are good.'' Volvo already builds a long- wheelbase version of the S80 in China. Ford named Zhejiang Geely Holding, the unlisted parent of Geely Automobile, as the pre- ferred bidder in October. No sale price has been an- nounced but industry insiders believe it is around $2 billion. Geely --- which roughly means ''I am lucky'' in Chinese --- has just reached agreement with Ford over Volvo's intellectual property rights and is moving ahead with takeover plans. It is now in discussions with Volvo union leaders. 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December 5th 2009
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