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Volvo wagon tipped for V8 Supercars in 2017

This wing-wearing wagon with turbo four-cylinder power is Volvo’s secret Supercar for 2017.

The Swedish brand, which joined V8Supercars in 2014, is committed to running S60 sedans in the series until 2016.

But with rule changes for 2017 allowing more variety in body styles and engines, Volvo is rumoured to be considering a switch to a racer based on its V60 wagon.

An image obtained by CarsGuide shows how it would look ready to race.

Volvo Car Australia refused to confirm the illustration’s authenticity. “We do not comment on future plans,” says spokesman Oliver Peagam.

But the sensible Swedish company has raced wagons before, grabbing enduring publicity for the brand. Volvo ran two 850 Estates in the 1994 British Touring Car Championship, and one of the Tom Walkinshaw Racing-prepared wagons competed in the Australian Super Touring Championship the following year. Two decades later they’re still remembered.

Current V8 Supercar rules mandate four-door sedans and V8 engines. Regulations for 2017 will open the sport to any body shape with at least four seats, while four- and six-cylinder turbo engines will be able to line up against traditional V8s.

For Volvo, the switch to a V60 racer makes sense

The changes are designed to make Australia’s premier motorsport category relevant after longstanding rivals Ford and Holden shut down their Australian factories in 2016 and 2017.

The “Gen2” rule book would allow these companies to compete with Mustang and Camaro coupes instead of Falcon and Commodore sedans as well as attracting more brands to the series.

Hyundai and Lexus, for example, are both known to be interested in entering cars.

For Volvo, the switch to a V60 racer makes sense, highlighting the brand’s practical wagon prowess, for one thing. And with the Swedish company dropping its big five-, six- and eight-cylinder engines, winning races with a high-power turbo four would convince customers that small doesn’t mean slow.

A small turbo four brings racetrack advantages

Last year Volvo revealed it was working on a high-performance version of its new 2.0-litre Drive-E engine for road cars. Two regular turbos combined with an electric turbo compressor boost the four’s power to a V8-equalling 330kW.

Volvo’s racing partner Polestar was involved in development of the concept engine. This experienced Swedish outfit, which engineered Volvo’s winning V8 Supercar engine, certainly will be able to extract even more power from a racing version of the 2.0-litre Drive-E.

Its compact size improves weight distribution between the front and rear axle and lowers the centre of gravity

A small turbo four brings racetrack advantages, as Volvo Polestar engine director Mattias Evensson explains when the triple-charged concept was revealed.

“Its compact size improves weight distribution between the front and rear axle and lowers the centre of gravity — two factors that have a significant effect on the handling, whether it is a race car or a street car,” he says.

The racer would have to adopt rear-drive as demanded by the Gen2 Supercar rules, unlike the showroom V60 which is front or all-wheel-drive.