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Friendly fire from the Swedes


Volvo Australia is vigorously debating whether the local arm will take the next generation of the V70, which was revealed this week in Europe.

However, the basic body shape will come to Australia regardless, as the underpinnings for the new XC70 crossover.

Ironically it's the XC70's popularity that could kill off the V70 station wagon here, where it outsells the V70 five to one.

"We are very sure what we're going to do with the XC70 in Australia, but about the V70 we're not so sure," Volvo Australia spokesman Todd Hallenbeck says.

"The decision on the V70 is about 50/50 at the moment. We're looking at it from a very practical point of view. If we aren't going to sell enough of them we won't bring it here at all, because bringing the car means we'll also have to stock spare parts, do its advertising, and all those other costs.

"The V70 is the most popular car sold in Sweden, so the Swedes are wondering why we're considering not having a car they regard as the heart of the Volvo brand.

"To counter that we are one of the strongest countries for the XC70 and XC90, and they understand that the XC has been the key to Volvo's success here. That (station wagon) buyer has moved into the XC70 and XC90."

"But we're not saying that traditional Volvo buyer no longer exists. That's what we're debating at the moment. A decision is expected within two months. The debate is between those who have seen the new V70 and think it could do well here and those who look at sales data for the present model.

"The traditional argument is Volvo was always the family-oriented station wagon brand. We still are, but that family is seeing the practicality of XC rather than V70.

"We are also aware that the smaller V50 is continuing to grow each year. Now we need to find out if the market still exists for a larger station wagon."

The new V70 is 15 per cent stronger than the current model.

It has slightly more room inside, particularly for rear passengers, and, according to Volvo, is safer than the older model.

New safety measures include a dual-height, integrated child booster seat at the rear, and electronic stability control as standard.

Styling cues borrow heavily from other new-generation Volvos, the front bearing a resemblance to the C70 coupe convertible and the tail lights modelled on the C30 hatch.

If Australia chooses to take the V70 it will be available in front-wheel-drive only, so it won't cannibalise sales from the more expensive XC70 all-wheel-drive.

Volvo is yet to reveal the XC70 cross-country version, but Hallenbeck says there will be greater differentiation between the basic wagon and the crossover version than with the existing model.

"The XC70 won't just look like a V70 with extra plastic cladding and a higher ride height," he says.

There will probably be a choice of two petrol engines for the new XC70. The entry-level model will probably be powered by a 3.2-litre inline six with 177kW and 320Nm, a step up from the current 2.5-litre inline five. The top-of-the-range model will have a turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six with 212kW and 400Nm.

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