Brag­gin’ wagon

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - JOHN CAREY

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 Rac­ing­pre­pared wag­ons com­peted in the Aus­tralian Su­per Tour­ing Cham­pi­onship the fol­low­ing year. Two decades later they’re still re­mem­bered.

Cur­rent V8Su­per­car 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 six­cylin­der turbo en­gines will be able to line up against tra­di­tional V8s.

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.

Last year Volvo re­vealed it was work­ing on a high­per­for­mance 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 V8Su­per­car en­gine, cer­tainly will be able to ex­tract even more power from a rac­ing ver­sion of the 2.0-litre Drive-E.

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.

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