If there's any manufacturer that can claim to have completely changed the way we look at station wagons, it has to be Volvo. Today's Volvo wagons differentiate more clearly the line between sporty and spacious. For spacious, see the V50, V70 and XC70; for sporty, you want to be looking at the latest version of the mid-sized V60 "sports wagon". It's lost some of the sharper edges of its ancestors, but it's gained an even sportier, wedgier look with hints of an extended coupe profile.
But it's not just about sportiness. Following on the pioneering auto-braking safety tech implemented in the XC60, the V60 range features the option of Pedestrian Detection with full auto brake. Not only can it detect pedestrians walking into the road in front of the car and warn the driver, it can also automatically apply full braking power if the driver fails to respond in time.
Expect to see the new 60 series locally early in 2011, with an engine line-up that includes a 149 kW 2,0 turbo petrol Four, a 224 kW 3,0 turbo Six and a 151 kW turbodiesel Five.
How it works . Pedestrian Detection with full auto brake
There are three main components:
- Radar unit integrated into the grille.
- Camera fitted in front of the interior rear-view mirror.
- Central control unit.
First line of defence is the radar, which detects an obstacle ahead and measures the distance to it. Then the camera determines what it is. "Falsing" is avoided: the system has the ability to disregard vehicles ahead that are stationary or moving in the same direction as it is.
What gives this technology the edge over previous versions is advances in the sensing part. The radar is a new dual-mode type with a wide field of vision, allowing early detection of pedestrians about to step into the roadway. A new high-resolution camera detects patterns of movement that spell "pedestrian", even to the extent of computing whether he or she is likely to step into the road in front of the car. It's able to pick up pedestrians as short as 80 cm. Just like the human eye, though, it has its limitations in poor light or bad weather. Both radar and camera have to confirm detection before the system kicks in.
What the driver perceives while all this is happening is, first, an audible warning combined with a flashing light in the headup display . designed to look like a brake light to prompt an instinctive quick reaction. Meanwhile, the brakes are precharged. If there's no driver input, full braking power is automatically applied. Up 35 km/h, that means a collision can be avoided altogether; above 35 km/h, the system can slow the car by up to 35 km/h.