When snow falls in Britain, the whole country grinds to a halt. But on the edge of the Arctic Circle, in Lulea in Swedish Lapland, they are ready for it.
I’ve been haring about in Volvo’s latest V60 family estate at a bone-chilling -30c — so cold even T-shirt-clad Geordies might be tempted to put a coat on.
And it’s not just icy roads I’m navigating. Even the ocean freezes. I am driving on a stretch of the Baltic where the ice is more than a foot thick.
All weather car: The Volvo V60 Cross Country can be used in extreme conditions
Each autumn the well-prepared Swedes swap to winter tyres, sometimes with studs, to improve grip.
After a good, long drive on ice and snow-bound roads and tracks, it’s time to go extreme on a special slippery track created out of the frozen sea.
I drive two V60 models and go dancing on ice in comfortable, smartly-appointed vehicles that are perfect load-luggers, with big boots for active families, whatever the weather.
First was the jacked-up and more rugged V60 Cross Country T5 all-wheel-drive with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which has an extra 60mm of ride height over the standard estate.
Geared up: The Volvo V60 Cross Country has an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which has an extra 60mm of ride height over the standard estate
Volvo V60 Cross Country: This handsome vehicle is powered by a 250 hp, 2-litre, 4-cylinder engine
In good hands: It’s time to go extreme on a special slippery track created out of the frozen sea
Ice masters: Volvo’s V60 estate range can easily handle arctic conditions
Self control: I drive two V60 models and go dancing on ice in comfortable, smartly-appointed vehicles that are perfect load-luggers
Non slip: Electronic stability control cuts like skis into snow, keeping me grounded
Hold tight: In ESC Sport mode, one can enjoy more latitude for sliding and skating
This handsome vehicle is powered by a 250 hp, 2-litre, 4-cylinder engine that takes it from rest to 62 mph in 6.8 seconds, and on up to 142 mph.
It’ll cost from around £37,000 when it joins the UK range this year, complementing the diesel D4 on sale from £38,270.
Plenty of space: With big boots for active families, whatever the weather
Electronic stability control cuts like skis into snow, keeping me grounded with confidence on the track when it senses its wheels starting to slip. In ESC Sport mode, one can enjoy more latitude for sliding and skating.
I also have a go in the V60 T8 Twin Engine R-Design petrol-electric hybrid, which combines a 303 hp 2-litre petrol engine with an 87 hp electric motor to give a total of 390 hp, resulting in a 0-62 mph time of 4.9 seconds, with top speed limited at 155 mph.
High class: It has part-leather sports seats, lowered sports suspension and front parking sensors
It has part-leather sports seats, lowered sports suspension and front parking sensors, and will cost from around £50,000.
Budget choices: The V60 range starts at £32,410 for the D3 Momentum manual and comes in four trim levels
The V60 range starts at £32,410 for the D3 Momentum manual and comes in four trim levels.
The four trim levels for the Volvo V60 range in the UK are Momentum, R-Design, Inscription and Cross Country.
The vehicles are built at Volvo’s headquarters factory in Gothenburg alongside the XC60 SUV, the larger V90 estate and XC90 off-roaders, with which they share a flexible platform.
They are packed with the safety kit and crash-tested technology you’d expect from Volvo. Thankfully, I didn’t need a practical demonstration.
And there are plenty of accessories for those with an active life-style – from a bike carrier that will take up to three cycles, a ski-holder for up to four sets of skis, a canoe/kayak holder, dog harness retractable tow-bar and a roof-box with up to 430 litres of space.
It’s a very Scandi alternative to German rivals such as the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3-series Touring or the Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate.
And perfect in a lands so cold that Facebook has its servers up here because it’s cheaper to cool them in the freezer-like climate.
Updated: Audi has refreshed its coupe and roadster with styling and performance upgrades
MORE THAN 20 YEARS SINCE AUDI LAUNCHED TT
Upgraded: Audi has refreshed its coupe and roadster with styling and performance upgrades
Amazing to think it’s more than 20 years since Audi launched the TT.
To mark the event, Audi has refreshed its coupe and roadster with styling and performance upgrades in what it calls ‘a comprehensive update’ to the third generation of the two-door vehicle, priced from £31,530.
A 2-litre 194 hp petrol engine replaces the earlier 1.8 litre 178 hp version in the TT 40 model. And the power in the TT 45 version rises from 227 hp to 242 hp.
There’s even a TT 20 Years limited edition model available from £45,300 to £47,050, of which 150 out of 999 will be sold in the UK.
Timeless: It’s more than 20 years since Audi launched the TT
I had fun driving a very feisty Audi TT Coupe ‘45’ TFSI Quattro S-Line S-tronic coupe in ‘Oulse Orange’ with a lively 7-speed S-tronic dual clutch automatic gear-box with manual paddles on the steering wheel, which accelerated with gusto from rest to 62mph in 5.2 seconds up to a top speed limited at 155mph.
The two rear seats are functional only for a soft bag or emergency use only. But the boot is surprisingly cavernous, with plenty of room for a family shop, and even an electric guitar. It’s a very intuitive drive. The smart electronic dashboard screen behind the steering wheel houses the stat nav and all the key information. There are practical touches with the rear seats folding down for more load lugging space.
The base price of £37,405 rose nearly £7,500 with add-ons that included a £1,495 technology package, a Bang and Olufsen sound system (£895), an ‘RS’ design steering wheel (£795), a useful dynamic road sign display (£155), deluxe air conditioning (£555)and enhanced parking sensors (£395).
The original TT – dubbed the ‘Bauhaus bullet’ because of its uncompromisingly stylish and minimalist lines – was first shown as a concept model in 1995 and then as a barely changed production model three years later.
- Skoda is to launch a smart new ‘baby’ sports utility vehicle called Kamiq to take on Renault’s Captur and Nissan’s Juke. It’s making its debut in Geneva next month, and is expected to go on sale by the end of the year for around £17,500. For vegans there is even the option of a non-leather interior micro-fibre material called Suedia.
All new Skoda: Skoda is to launch a smart new ‘baby’ sports utility vehicle called Kamiq to take on Renault’s Captur and Nissan’s Juke
Trendy: The Skoda Kamiq’s interior
ORGANISERS OF LONDON MOTOR AND TECH SHOW REVEAL ‘VALENTINE’ CARS
Coupling: More than a third of drivers say their first in-car kiss was in a sedan
Ahead of Valentine’s Day on Thursday, the organisers of this year’s London Motor and Tech Show in May reveal that the favoured style of vehicle for lovers’ ‘car-noodling’ is the traditional saloon.
More than a third (35.3 per cent) of drivers say their first in-car kiss was in a sedan. Then came hatchbacks (23.7 per cent), sports cars (17.9 per cent), estates (10.5 per cent), vans (7.9 per cent) and convertibles (4.7 per cent).
But as saloon sales slump, expect change.
Show chief executive Andy Entwistle says: ‘Today’s market is so very different, with SUVs and multi-purpose vehicles all offering an alternative.’ Tickets (normally £20) can be bought online in pairs for £28 before February 14, using the code ‘CARLOVER’ (thelondonmotor show.co.uk).
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