January 25, 2011

Stefan Jacoby Will Say Anything To Make Blogger Feel Good About His Volvo


So here's a real piece of station wagon news-you-can-use:

At a Detroit Auto Show blogger junket eat & greet with, the fanbois from Swedespeed.com asked Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby where all the sweet station wagons with manual transmissions were, because the US market could really use some. Like the V60 you just announced would come everywhere but the US.

Oh, perhaps, said Jacoby, we might bring the new V60 Sports Wagon for the "enthusiasts," but only if it could be unique somehow, like with a hybrid drivetrain. [Uh, Earth to Jacoby, a new Volvo station wagon in the US is already unique enough; that's the whole problem.]

Swedespeed extrapolated from this little morsel of dinner conversation, and their theory--IF it's going to happen, of course--is that the V60 wagon will come in 2012. As plug-in hybrid. Diesel. Mhmm.

Jacoby, it should be pointed out, was the "golden boy" at VW who looked at the company's full line of European vans, minivans, and people movers--and decided that what the US needed was a rebadged Dodge Caravan with a classy headlight treatment.

Rumors: Volvo V60 Wagon Could Come Stateside as Hybrid [swedespeed.com via dt sr minivan correspondent jj daddy-o]
Previously: No playtime for US: new Volvo V60 Sports Wagon
Brooke Shields: the Sally Struthers of the Routan Generation
VW Routan: "Genuine Dick Ship" To Debut At Chicago Auto Show


I've posted comments in the past about my 05 Legacy GT Wagon (sadly sold about a year ago) so my thoughts on reasonably-sized, performance-oriented wagons go without saying. But the numbers don't lie: Americans haven't been buying these cars. There is the old stigma of the wagon body style. There's also the size of families and car seats and strollers that just seem to require 3 rows of seats and/or additional cargo space in many cases.

And while I'd love to see a V60 wagon just to make the market a little more diverse, I'm not sure it appeals too much. The S60 T6 gets about the same mileage as many 3 row crossovers. Can't imagine a V60 would be any better. Maybe a T5 would be better on gas but would also be less "naughty." Maybe this is behind Volvo's interest in alternative power trains for this vehicle??? But what's that going to do to the price?

BTW, still waiting for my first sighting of a CTS-V wagon.

I saw a CTS-V wagon at the Detroit Auto Show. Sat in it, too. I didn't have a car seat with me, but the annoying thing about the CTS generally is that despite being 5-series sized, it doesn't have much more space in back than a 3. The cargo area on the CTS wagon is redonkulously small, for a wagon, but it is bigger than the trunk of the sedan, so that's something. If you think of the CTS as a big hatchback rather than a wagon, you won't be as disappointed.

That said, as much as I WANT to love the CTS-V wagon, I just can't get behind the gas mileage/range issue. V8 M3s already struggle to get 200 miles on a tank; with 140ish more hp and 600 lbs more weight (and only 2 extra gallons of gas), the CTS-V is going to be worse than that. Even if you don't care about $4/gal gas (and if you're buying a $65K wagon you don't, really), having to fill up on a trip from DC to NYC is nuts.

Our recent quest for a smallish family car with a stick ended up (after a brief search for one of the five V70R six speeds sold in 2004-05) with a Countryman. Not quite a wagon, not quite a crossover, it's jack of all trades, master of none--but at least it's not a minivan.

Just last month we went on the hunt for a new car. For me (both of us really) it had to be more performance and/or luxury oriented, and used with less than 30,000 miles on it. My wife's requirements made it more interesting:

"It has to be a wagon. No minivans. No SUVs"
--- OK...short list to work with...

"Would like to have a hybrid, if possible."
--- Yeah, well...you already took all those off the table with the first requirement.

"Can't be a US brand."
--- Not sure what that's about but whatever...it's not like it narrowed our choices much.

"Can't be a luxury brand because of these weird social/status issues at work."
--- Uhh...right. Didn't you just test drive an Audi A3, knowing it was too small for our needs, and loved driving it far more than the 3 others you drove after it? To the point where you almost sent me back to the dealer to buy it that night?

"And I don't want another VW."
--- You're killing me. We're down to a couple of Subaru's that drive like SUVs, the V70 (which would be fine if we could find a V70-R with less than 30,000 miles on it), and...not sure what else...

"I give up! Let's just get a Honda CRV."
--- **cringe** Let's NOT do that.

In the end, we bought an '07 Saab 9-3 Aero wagon. My wife loves it and I need to come up with excuses if I want to drive it. Everyone wins.

Looks like it will be shown at the Geneva show. Hardly the stepping stone to the US market but you never know. A turbo diesel with an electric motor should pack a ton of torque but it's hard to see how it's going to be an "enthusiasts" choice. The S60, while well regarded, is a full step behind BMW, Audi, Infiniti, etc. when it comes to most of the things "enthusiasts" care about. Hard to see how the extra weight of batteries is going to change that story.

Yeah, this is the diesel plug-in hybrid Swedespeed was speculating on. It's interesting that it sounds so market-ready, but it should also be obvious that, when considered independently, the probability of Volvo offering a diesel, a wagon, or a hybrid in the US is approximately zero. Multiply those chances together, and what do you get?

Looks like it's a reality, for the U.S. who knows.

If it would fall under a $7,500 govt incentive that Obama is proposing (a rebate versus tax credit) then I'd give it a MUCH better chance of coming here. If it were priced at MSRP $50K (wild guess) $42,500 would sound really good. Especially compared to a Lexus HS250h at $35,600, although you could prob get a lexus dealer to knock off $7,500 on one of those right now.

We've had our XC70 for almost three years ago, and my husband still complains at least once a week that it isn't a diesel.

Audi Q7 3.0 TDI...we love ours except for the difficulty of putting a Bugaboo Cameleon in the rear. But it can be done. No go on the P&T Vibe though.

@rlf: I think the Audi is one my husband is interested in for next time, but no-go if it won't hold my Cameleon :-) It certainly wouldn't fit my Chariot CX2 if the Cam cannot fit. It's amazing what we can stuff in our XC70.

@Melanie: Don't want to speak for rif but I imagine (hope) that the Cameleon would fit in the Q7 with the 3rd row folded. If not, the Q7's a fairly useless beast.

@Melanie...yes seth is correct :) You can fit quite a bit with the 3rd row folded down. Since we have 3 kids 5 and under, the 3rd row is currently utilized. Good taste in strollers. We have the CX2 as well.

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