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Article - Volvo X1+

Yet another article from today's Sydney Morning Herald:

Volvo gets the urge to converge

A ground-breaking vehicle for the Swedish maker will combine elements of 4WD,
wagon and minivan. By Georg Kacher.

After years of deriding the clumsiness and perceived safety drawbacks of big
4WD wagons, Volvo is about to build its own. The international success of
Volvo's V70 all-wheel-drive and Cross-Country, which are basically jacked-up
versions of the standard station wagon, has encouraged the Swedes to develop
a new type of outdoorsy vehicle. It will be part-4WD, part-wagon and part-
minivan, what is known in the business as a "convergence vehicle".

Like the Mercedes M Class and BMW's upcoming Sport Activity Vehicle, the still
nameless Volvo is being engineered for optimum on-road performance. Mercedes
conjured up a brand-new frame and suspension for its M Class; the Swedes intend
to use the stretched and widened platform from their next-generation V70 wagon
which is due late in 1999.

If the smoke signals from the Gothenburg HQ are correct, the new Volvo off-
roader will have an upgraded air suspension similar to Audi's Allroad. This
system is effectively a four-wheel ride height-adjustment device, raising the
body on difficult terrain, lowering it on smooth roads and combining a cosseting
ride with adaptive body control.

The proposed high-roof body has four doors and three rows of seats in staggered
pairs; folding or removing the four rearmost seats makes this set-up widely

Volvo is still seeking for a partner to share risks and production capacity.
Mitsubishi's North American factory looks the most logical choice - but there
is also word of a liaison with Renault, which is said to be interested in a
hybrid 4WD derivative of its next-generation Espace mini-van.

Volvo's new wagon will use the permanent 4WD system from the Cross-Country, a
model just released in Australia. It is also expected to use a brake-activated
traction-control device and the electronic stability program, ESP. The most
likely engine choice is the new transversely mounted 2.9-litre in-line six-
cylinder developing 152 kW or, with a turbo, 202 kW.

Dubbed X1+, the advanced six-seater has reportedly won the internal battle for
approval. According to a Volvo manager in Trollhattan: "The company can at this
stage afford only one additional project.

"We decided in favour of the X1+ because it does not require a high production
volume to make a profit, because it should do well on the important North
American market, and because it offers interesting co-operation opportunities,
be it with Mitsubishi or with another manufacturer."

Chris Palmer (1995.5 S6 Avant)              "Ashes to ashes,
Data General Corporation                     dust to dust,
chris_palmer@dg.com                          If Lillee don't get yer,
                                             Thommo must!"