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 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