The Amazing Volvo V60 Polestar

Back in 2014 Volvo introduced a new edition of its Volvo V60 wagon, unveiling it on four continents including the U.S. market. Just 3 months later the brand purchased Polestar, and it became to Volvo what AMG and M are to Mercedes and BMW respectively. The combination between Volvo reliability and ingenuity mixed with Polestar’s racing experience and success guaranteed the V60 Polestar would be something incredible from the get-go, but no one knew just how amazing. It’s a real shame just 265 Polestars made it into the U.S. The brand isn’t as popular there as it is in Europe, but with time we should see an increase in sale figures.

Exterior

Let’s start with the design. It’s essentially a normal V60/S60 (if you go for the sedan), with not a lot to distinguish it from the normal car if you’re not an enthusiast or Volvo fan. Okay, so the baby blue Polestar color (called Rebel Blue) does give it away, but that’s only if you actually know what the car is. To an unsuspecting passer, it’s a Volvo that just so happens to be finished in a rather bold and unique blue color. Now there are two ways you can look at it. The first one is that the color is too brash and a sedan, and especially wagon, should never come with that finish from the factory. It’s just too bold and not elegant. The other way of looking at it, the one we much prefer, is that the exterior is a reflection of the car’s character. It’s alright that it’s heavenly blue, and it’s alright that it’s a Volvo. Plus if you don’t like it there are now three different colors: Black Sapphire, Ice White and Bright Silver. The somewhat understated design balances off that blue beautifully, creating a car which looks neutral. It’s neither aggressive nor too understated, but rather just right. 

Of course it gets some visual upgrades in the form of a front splitter, different bumper, sideskirts and a different rear section, but they’re not that pronounced. Like we said, unless you’re a true Volvo fan you’d have to be really bothered to see the differences even if the Polestar and a normal car were next to each other. As for which one looks better, you’ll have to decide. We personally like the V60. There’s just something so uber-cool about fast wagons, you can’t really describe it. Perhaps it’s the unsuspecting speed it’s capable of offering, which will shock even the fastest of sedans and hatchbacks. We really dig it. It’s unmistakably a Volvo, but there’s something special in it. Call it character, charisma, whatever you want. 

Interior

The interior is where the Polestar might let you down just a tad. Not because it’s bad, but because it doesn’t offer a whole lot on top of the normal V60 and S60 models. But then again, neither do most M-models and RS variants from Audi, so we can’t complain a whole lot on that front. That said, it does get a sportier steering wheel, upgraded seats, racier pedals, special floor mats and a whole plethora of Polestar-branded items. As for upholstery, naturally you get Polestar-unique materials and colors not found in the standard cars. 

The design of the dashboard and center console may seem a bit dull, and that’s because it is, but it’s functional and we couldn’t really fault it. The ergonomics are perfect and this being Volvo everything is exactly where you’d expect it to be. The seating position is nice, there’s ample amount of room even in the back, with best in-class cargo space, especially if you go for the wagon. The materials used are of the highest-quality, both the leather, aluminum brushed accents and even the few plastics present here and there. It’s a quality item, and it feels like it. The fit and finish is second to only maybe Lexus and Rolls-Royce, which is really saying something. It just feels like it can withstand a nuclear explosion. 

Engine and Performance

Under the hood there’s a 3.0 liter six-cylinder unit with 350 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic and a clever Haldex all-wheel drive system. If we’re honest the automatic box isn’t the best, it’s far off the pace of modern dual-clutches and even ZF’s eight-speed, but it isn’t bad. It doesn’t hesitate on upshifts, but can be reluctant to downshift at times. It’s extremely rare however.

Performance is absolutely ridiculous for a wagon. The sprint to 100 km/h takes just 4.9 seconds, with 200 km/h coming up in 17.7 seconds. The top speed is governed by an electronic limiter at 250 km/h, but we’re positive it can go beyond 270 given someone finds a way to derestrict it. 

Judging it purely based on its straight-line speed would be a shame however, because it’s so capable in the corners. The chassis modifications increased rigidity, introduced stiffer springs and high-end Ohlins shocks. It’s cliché, but it does corner like it’s on rails. The Haldex AWD does wonders through the bends. Enter slightly too fast, it will scrub the speed off, and you’re just free to matt the throttle from there on. It will sort itself out and pull through the exit of the corner at speed which will earn you decent jail-time.

The 20-inch Polestar wheels with low-profile tires aren’t as uncomfortable as we first thought they would be, and the ventilated discs with Brembo calipers ensure this behemoth stops even from the most ridiculous of speeds. They don’t seem to fade either.

Conclusion

It’s a real shame more people aren’t interested in the V60 and S60 Polestar models. They’re genuine alternatives to the usual array of German and Japanese performance sedans and wagons. They’re so rare you’re more likely to see a Ferrari or a Pagani. If that isn’t incentive enough to get one, we don’t know what is.

History of Volkswagn

Volkswagen and Skoda are two if Europes best selling car brands. But did you know the history of the car brands and that they are part of the same company?

Volkswagen

Volkswagen was formed as a state-owned auto-making company in 1937 by the Nationalist Socialist Party (Nazi) headed by Adolf Hitler and was headquartered in Wolfsburg. The brand was created in order to support the German population’s transport needs and named Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH, but soon after its inception, the name was changed to Volkswagenwerk, which literally translates to People’s Car Company.

Vehicles were very expensive in Germany, so much that only 1 in 50 people owned a car, and they were definitely belonging to the elite class. Volkswagen was founded to break that trend by creating cheap cars affordable for all, and therefore, the services of Ferdinand Porsche were hired to create a car that would cost no more than 1,000 Reichs or $140. Thanks to the thought, the Beetle was born, which we all know as the small-sized rear engine car. The Beetle broke the worldwide production record, previously held by the Model T, by surpassing 15 million units sold.

VW saw several changes in ownership during and after World War 2 that disintegrated the creative aspect of the car models. By 1970, other famous vehicles such as the Rabbit and Golf were introduced to rekindle customers trust in the VW brand, even the Beetle was revived as the New Beetle.

After having considerable success since its inception, by 1960s and later, VW acquired other auto-making companies such as Audi, SEAT, Skoda, Lamborghini, Porsche and other major manufacturers of Europe to become the largest automaker in Europe and one of the largest companies in the world. It was named the VW Group. Although VW itself does not produce many cars, its subsidiaries account for the majority of its sales and it successfully produces the new Beetle and Golf among others.

Skoda

Skoda is a Czech automotive brand that was founded by Laurin and Klement Vaclav in 1895. The company at its inception was named after its creators as Laurin & Klement, however, the name changed in 1925 followed by Skoda Work’s acquisition. The first Skoda vehicle rolled out of the company’s headquarters in 1901 and since then the automotive brand has produced some great vehicles.

In 2000, the conglomerate hungry, VW Group acquired Skoda and the brand was intended to make entry-level vehicles but due to Skoda’s brilliant engineering, the brand reached new heights competing with the likes of top VW models.

You may find Skoda’s focus more toward Western Europe markets but they are evenly spread throughout the world with production in India and China among other countries. There is a large focus toward the Indian markets since it is largely untapped and there is a need for mid-sized affordable sedans for the bourgeois class.

There are 7 vehicles you can buy under the Skoda brand name with plans to introduce more into the fleet. Skoda unveiled many concept models but a majority of them did not see their way through to production lines. The latest concept to impress us is the Skoda Vision X. The SUV shall formally begin rolling out of factories sometime in 2019 and there is a consensus that the Vision X will take the company to new heights.

Although Skoda is known for passenger vehicles, it has successfully created sports cars that compete in world championships across the world. Skoda won the WRC-2 for three consecutive years from 2015 to 2017, even though they recently entered the racing world.

 

 

Debunking two popular fuel myths

Since the industrial revolution, humankind has become fully dependent on fossil fuels. What you may not realize is that petroleum is not used just to power vehicles. You would probably not be able to make it to the office if all fuel-dependent utilities would suddenly stop working.

Anyways, even with all these apocalyptic scenarios that will probably never happen, the truth is, cars are world’s main consumer of fuel. Furthermore, fuel has been refined and re-engineered to better suit the needs of automotive internal combustion engine. With all vehicles, the main goal is the same: use the least amount of fuel to produce the highest amount of power.

There are a few myths going around regarding car fuel. You might hear discussions at the pump station regarding the quality of the fuel filling your tank. The average Joe will pour high-octane, premium gasoline in his 1989 Ford Sierra and expect it to turn into an asphalt beast. Unfortunately, this won’t happen, and any changes Joe may feel behind the wheel are solely a Placebo effect.

This is just one of the many myths going around regarding fuel. We’re going to debunk the most popular myths on car fuel and find out what you can actually do to improve your car performance.

Premium gasoline for the old lady?

First of all, let’s get back for a second to the premium gasoline issue. On one hand, we’re used to receive higher quality from premium products. And indeed, premium gasoline offers better performance, but with the right engine.

Here is what is going on. On high performance vehicles, the engine is so finely tuned that any error might lead to irrecuperable damage. This is one of the reasons why supercar manufacturers don’t recommend but actually impose the use of high octane fuel. Powerful engines usually come with a high compression ratio – that is, how much is the air and fuel mixture compressed by the pistons.

Compression increases pressure and temperature. If the mixture of hydrocarbons in the fuel are not right, the fuel will self-ignite before it reaches the optimum moment in the engine. This will cause the piston to knock, basically making it go down the wrong way. A high-octane fuel provides a higher self-ignition property, avoiding piston knock.

In conclusion, if you don’t own a car that specifically asks for premium gas, save your cash. In regular engines, regular fuel will burn just the same as premium versions. The only thing burning faster is your bank account.

If you enjoy reading economics, check out this article on why are premium fuels so damn expensive.

TIP: Replace your car’s fuel filter and make sure the air filter is also in mint condition. These two are the main reasons why your car does not correctly burn fuel and thus not giving peak performance.

Filling up when it’s colder gets you more gas

Theoretically, filling up in a chilly summer morning should get you more gas than when filling in the middle of the day. From a thermodynamic point of view, the idea is accurate. The principle is very simple: a cooler liquid is denser.

However, that’s about it. The truth is, unless you are filling up a 10,000-gallon reservoir of a spaceship, the variation in density is not worth actually programming your gas stop. Normally, there’s a 2% variation of density for every 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

The graph below describes the density drop of fuel according to temperature. Blue lines represent diesel, red lines are for gasoline and the pink slope represents pure ethanol.

graph

Furthermore, there’s one more aspect to consider. All fuel is stored in underground tanks that are purposely sealed to prevent large temperature variations. Basically, petrol stations won’t give you (much) more fuel in the morning, neither will you be cheated in the afternoon.

TIP: A well maintained engine and properly inflated tires will reduce fuel consumption, compensating for waking up late and filling up when it’s already hot outside.

Extra: Fuel Tips To Improve Your Driving Experience

Now that we’ve settled with the myths, here are some quick&easy tips to get out most of the fuel your car uses.

Tip #1: More fuel, fewer times. It’s a bad idea to run around with an almost empty tank. The residue gathering at the bottom of the tank is prone to be absorbed by the fuel pump and clog the fuel filter. Worse, if the residue goes beyond the filter, your fuel injectors will have to suffer. It’s better to fill up the tank completely and keep a decent amount of fuel in it, rather than constantly driving with the minimum possible.

Tip #2: Don’t redline it! Driving fast is fun, but it’s just like running really fast: more energy is required. To keep a decent mileage, don’t over rev your car if you don’t have to. Enjoying the high RPM range in a tunnel is, however, something you should indulge.

History of Toyota

toyotaThink of Toyota, and you’re probably thinking of one of the world’s largest and most successful car companies ever made. So it’ll probably come as a bit of a surprise to learn that even though they’re mostly known for their cars, they still exist in the textile business, as well as the automatic loom production one. Everything is computerized now, with electric sewing machines and less actual staff, but the point still stands. We’re not here to talk about that however. We’re interested in the automotive portion of Toyota, so let’s focus on that instead.

Toyota started out life as a division of the back-then successful Toyoda Automatic Loom Works in 1933. The founder’s son, Kiichiro Toyoda, directed the entire company, including the heading of the cars they were producing. Prior to actually starting the production, he travelled to Europe and the U.S. in 1929 to inspect the rest of the world’s automotive productions and their assembly lines. By 1930 he had already begun researching gasoline-powered engines for their own personal use. The war between Japan and China was heating up, so the Japanese government actually encouraged Toyoda Automatic Loom Works to start building cars to increase domestic production. A year after they founded it, in 1934, they produced the first Type A engine, which was implemented in the first Model A1 passenger car. The earliest cars were somewhat similar to the Dodge Power Wagon, but the reason for that is very simple. They actually had interchangeable parts.

The Name

Toyota_AAToyota Motor Co. officially separated from the rest of Toyoda in 1937, when it became an independent manufacturer. The name change from Toyoda to Toyota was due to the fact that the Japanese symbol for the word went from Kanji to katakana giving it 8 letters. In East Asian culture, the number 8 is considered lucky, so Toyota decided to go with that. During the great Pacific War (essentially World War II), the company started making trucks for the Imperial Japanese Army. The demand for trucks was greater than the actual production, as Toyota was basically the largest and only provider. To make as many as possible, they had to keep the trucks simple and bare. They didn’t even come with two headlights, but rather a single one in the middle of the hood. A scheduled Allied bombing was planned to shut down the Toyota factories in Aichi and completely cripple Japan, but the war thankfully ended long before that.

Postwar period
Toyota_1960_Land_CruiserJapan was arguably the most devastated country after the War. Economic growth was nonexistent, with even the most prominent of companies struggling to survive. None the less, production continued with the 1947 SA model. The lack of sales meant that the company was nearly bankrupt by the end of 1949, just 2 years after production reopened. Eventually Toyota was able to put stand back up on its feet thanks to a loan from a large consortium of banks. A year later however, the same happened again. In June of 1950, they only sold 300 trucks. That’s right, they managed to sell just 300 in the all of Japan. Management announced wage reductions and even layoffs, putting the union on strike. The entire ordeal lasted two months, before finally coming to agreements. Soon after that Kiichiro Toyoda left, and in his place came Taizo Ishida, the CEO of Toyoda Automatic Loom.

The Korean War, as bad as it was, kick started the company yet again, as the US ordered some 5,000 vehicles from Toyota. Taizo focused on making more Toyota plants, which ultimately gave the company an edge over rival Nissan during the 1960s. The Toyota Crown became the first Japanese vehicle to be exported to the U.S. in 1957.

Modern-day Toyota

priusToday, Toyota is thriving in large sale numbers, but the most recent troubles date back as recent as 2008. During weak US economy in 2008, Toyota announced that their numbers have been slowly but surely declining. The same thing happened with the Detroit Big Three. The reason was simple: the Tundra wasn’t selling in the needed numbers, and neither were the Prius, Corolla or Yaris. Fast forward some 5 years later, and everything’s changed yet again. The high demand of hybrids put the Prius back on the radar for lots of potential buyers, and the increase in pickup demand meant the affordable Tundra became an option for many people.

If there’s one thing Toyota’s known for, it’s safety, and the vast amount of resources they’ve been spending lately into researching said qualities only further solidifies that. The state of the art advanced safety systems, both passive and active, have been implemented by most other manufacturers by now, but the truth is Toyota started the entire trend.

It’s impossible to mention Toyota without ushering the words reliability and quality. As a company, they’re probably the most well-diverse one there is. Just think of their model lineup. They offer a dozen hybrids, lots of economic city cars, a few pickups and SUVs, and if you’re after speed and fun, there’s even the GT86 with the newly-announced Supra successor on the way. It’s really difficult to think of a company which is better rounded than Toyota. We sincerely hope they continue doing their own thing, because it seems to be working. We can’t wait to see what the new Supra successor will bring, but more importantly, what Toyota has planned for the future of the automobile as a whole.

 

Getting car fluids ready for winter

car-fluid-winterApart from snow, there’s another obvious way to figure out winter has settled in: everything around start freezing. And believe it or not, your car might freeze too and refuse to start in a cold December morning. Most of the time, the issue resides in improperly maintained engine fluids. Using proper engine oil and antifreeze goes a long way in keeping your car ready to go on winter days. Here’s a more detailed approach on the subject.

Engine oil

As you probably know by now, engines use oil to lubricate internal components in motion, reducing friction and allowing for extended usage accompanied by minimum wear. The main characteristic of engine oil is viscosity. There are two SAE values for viscosity encapsulated on all oil containers. Usually, the markings are XWXX, where X is replaced by a particular number.

Let’s take for example a 5W10 oil. The first number (5) represents the cold viscosity of the oil at zero degrees Celsius in the SAE system. The lower the value, the less viscous the oil is. However, as the oil heats up due to the heat radiated by the engine, such a low viscosity would not provide proper lubrication and generate wear. This is why, when heat up to a temperature similar to the one of the engine, the oil switches to a higher SAE viscosity, in this case 40.

So, what has all this to do with winter? Quite a lot, actually. As temperatures drop, using an engine oil with a rather high SAE viscosity value at 0 degrees may cause the engine to crank slowly or not crank at all. Check your car’s owner manual for the right oil viscosity values to be used during winter driving.

Keep in mind that old oil will lose lubrication properties and may become more viscous than its original SAE value. Given this, it’s a good idea to change your car’s engine oil and oil filter before winter sets in.

Antifreeze

winterYour car relies on coolant to keep engine temperature at a steady value where it provides maximum yield. On the other hand, as winter sets in, very low temperatures may cause coolant to freeze within the piping and the radiator. If this happens, your car’s cooling pump will be overloaded and eventually fail resulting in a costly replacement.

Antifreeze fluid alters the freezing and boiling point of your engine coolant, allowing it to remain in a liquid state even below freezing temperature of water. Depending on the area you live in, you may require a higher antifreeze concentration in the coolant (Canadians for example may have to use 100% antifreeze). Check with your local car shop to figure out the proper antifreeze concentration as a function of mean winter temperatures in your area.

Windshield washing fluid

Apart from oil and antifreeze, windshield washing fluid plays a vital role in allowing your car to run in winter conditions. Unlike summer washer, the fluid used to clean your windshield during the winter acts as antifreeze so it won’t lock the washing installation, but also provides defrosting capabilities. If you can’t keep your car inside a garage during winter nights, the windshield will eventually freeze making it impossible to see through. Proper washing fluid will remove the ice and allow wipers to move it away from sight.

As you can see, taking care of your car’s fluids will take you one step further in making sure your 4-wheeled companion will have no trouble taking on snowy roads and cold temperatures.

Compare Prices on Car Insurance

Car theftBefore you buy car insurance you should compare prices on car insurance. You may not recognize how valuable this one step can be until you witness it yourself. There are plenty of good solid options for car insurance many you would never be exposed to unless you compare prices on car insurance plans.

A lot of people make the grave mistake of just settling for the first plan they are offered. This is one of the biggest financial mistakes you can make. You wind up paying more than you have to pay. When you take the time to compare the prices you are allowing car insurance carriers to battle for your business by offering you better rates!

Comparing car insurance options is an absolute necessity if you want to save money!

In many countries around the world you can compare prices car insurance using sites like Bilforsikring and Money Supermarket

It Is Fast

You an compare prices on car insurance online in minutes. All you need to do is to provide some simple information about yourself and the type of car you are insuring. The entire process takes about 15 minutes or less.

Those few minutes will not only save you money but will also help you to get a more comprehensive plan. If you have car insurance right now you can probably find a better plan for less money. If you are looking for car insurance right now you can easily find a plan that fits your needs that you can afford in 15 minutes or less.

 It is Free

Why would you not compare prices on car insurance? It is free to do. You do not have to pay for the information as a matter of fact insurance carriers are happy to provide you with free quotes for car insurance.

These quotes are comprehensive meaning that provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. Reviewing quotes is an easy way to see exactly what a plan has to offer without you ever having to leave home and it costs you nothing.

 It is Convenient

Comparing prices for car insurance is one of the most convenient things you can do to save money. You can do it day or night from home if you use the internet to compare your options. You do not have to spend more money than you have to.

There is simply no excuse not to save money! You can compare prices on car insurance and save money in minutes by using these sites and other:

Money.Msn

Insurance.com

Esurance

 

Gas Prices in The US

We want ze money, Lebowski!Gas Prices In The US Vary Across States

Anyone who has lived in different states or has ventured on an interstate road trip would know that gas prices vary across states in the country. Very few states have exactly the same gas prices. Some states have much higher gas prices than others. Even within a state, different brands retailing gasoline are likely to charge different rates.

To give you an idea of the varying gas prices across the country, New York and California have the most expensive gas prices while states like Texas, some states in the Midwest and some central states have the lowest gas prices. The gas prices in New York and California are as much as $20 more than the lowest prices in Texas and some central and Midwest states. There are many reasons why gas prices vary across the country.

The first major reason why gas prices vary across states is because of the local taxes. Some states levy a higher local tax and that naturally hikes up the gas prices. For example, California charges a tax of 10 cents more than what is taxed in Illinois. This tax rate is per gallon of gas. Illinois itself has a tax which is 25 cents more than the tax in Wyoming. In effect, California charges 35 cents more tax per gallon than what is charged in Wyoming. The tax rates are consequential but they are not the only factor determining the differing gas prices.

Some states have more stringent environmental regulations. This requires drivers to use premium quality refined gasoline or additives that can substantially reduce carbon footprints and other agents of pollution. Such regulations are mostly prevalent and demandingly stringent in metropolises and naturally the more populated and urbanized states have higher gas prices.

On a Pan-American basis, you would notice that gas prices are the highest in east coast and west coast. Northern Midwest states charge much less than the coasts and the southern Midwest states charge the least. Although there are some east coast states that also have low gas prices.

The other major factor that drives up gas prices in most states is the aspect of transportation. States in the hinterland are closer to locally available crude oil and they are easily transported to refineries. States on the coast incur higher transportation costs and thus the gas prices shoot up.

Given the economy and realities of gas prices, they would remain to be different across states as they are now and the differences may keep increasing.

photo by:


Schill