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Volvo hits safety top gear

Volvo will spread ESP across its entire range next month, while upgrade changes will be spearheaded by the XC60 later in the year.

The car brand trumpeted as the world's safest will catch up with the pack next month.

Volvo is at last making sure every car it sells in Australia is equipped with ESP and traction control as standard.

It has yet to confirm details of the ESP upgrade, including prices, though all Australian cars coming off the production line this month – which means deliveries in June once they are shipped from Sweden – will have the system.

“We can confirm that dynamic stability control and traction control will be standard on all Volvo models from May production,” says Laurissa Mirabelli of Volvo Cars Australia.

While Volvo is talking up its ESP upgrade, it is also working to finalise details of next year's model line-up after an upgrade last week in Europe. They should be here by October, and the all-new XC60 all-wheel-drive wagon will be the headliner.

The most obvious change, on everything from the baby C30 to the C70, is a larger Volvo badge on the boot. It picks up the prominence of the badge on the XC60 and the latest mid-sized wagons.

The only other change across the range, though not confirmed for Australia, is exterior mirrors that fold flat for parking.

“There will be some minor changes to Volvo's MY09 line-up this year, as there is with its models every year,” Mirabelli says. “The MY09s won't be here until much later this year and we're not in a position to confirm the extent of the changes yet, given we're still going through the business case process.”

She says there are only minor tweaks to the range, apart from the XC60, and nothing big on the technical front. In Europe, there are minor tweaks to nine models and one of the best is an optional system called Homelink. It uses buttons integrated into the sun visor to operate remote-controlled home appliances such as garage doors, house alarms and lighting.

There is an upgrade of the optional satellite navigation on the S40 and V50, a hard load cover is now standard on all C30s and the climate control is upgraded in the C70 with the addition of the Powershift gearbox already fitted to the C30, S40 and V50.

The S80 flagship gets heated washer nozzles and chronograph-style dials in the dash.