Volvo is now semi-autonomous

2016-09-27 06:00
The Volvo XC90 Photo: supplied

The Volvo XC90 Photo: supplied

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THE Volvo XC90, which is the reigning WesBank / SAGMJ Car of the Year in South Africa, has been updated for 2017. Pilot Assist, fitted as standard for semi-autonomous driving, and PowerPulse diesel technology, for a lag-free diesel driving experience, are both now available in South Africa.

Pilot Assist now standard on all models

In accordance with the forthcoming Volvo S90, the XC90 now features the latest version of Volvo’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving technology as standard on all models. Able to take control of acceleration, braking and steering at speeds up to 130 km/h, the support system is designed to make the daily commute – or indeed a longer journey – more relaxing and enjoyable.

The all-new XC90 pioneered the original Pilot Assist system which could be activated at speeds up to 50 km/h – making the typical South African traffic jam an absolute breeze and allowing the driver to relax behind the wheel while enjoying the Swedish luxury and Scandinavian simplicity of Volvo’s flagship SUV.

With the latest upgrade, a lead vehicle is no-longer required, and the XC90 is able to maintain safe semi-autonomous driving provided that lane markings are clearly visible on both sides of the vehicle, at speeds up to 130 km/h. Important to note is that Pilot Assist is an outright support system and has not been designed for the driver to remove their attention from the task of driving.

Fully-autonomous Volvos, which will allow for complete hands-off and feet-off autonomous driving, will be available in the future – the first examples of which will be driven by real customers in Gothenburg, Sweden, as part of Volvo’s Drive Me programme, in 2017.

The inclusion of Pilot Assist as standard means that all XC90 models now also come standard with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), which uses radar to manage acceleration and braking in a more conventional manner, without steering control.

PowerPulse diesel technology eliminates turbo lag

Introduced globally on the forthcoming Volvo S90 and now also available for 2017 in the XC90 D5 AWD is Volvo’s world-first PowerPulse technology. Geared to eliminate the effects of turbo lag, PowerPulse turns the Drive-E D5 diesel engine into a lag-free, smoother powerhouse. Volvo Cars is the only car maker using such technology in production vehicles.

PowerPulse draws air from the air filter via a compressor into a pressurised two-litre tank. When required, the compressed air is fed by a valve into the exhaust manifold to instantly spool up the turbo. The tank automatically refills after each burst, and the compressed air remains on hand at all times to provide extra boost – on pull-away and during low-speed driving.

Naturally with such an upgrade, output has been increased and efficiency has been improved. Power has increased to 173 kW at 4 000 rpm (up from 165 kW) and torque is up by 10 Nm to 480 Nm between 1 750 and 2 250 rpm. Efficiency remains exceptional, with average fuel economy on the combined cycle now 5.7-litres per 100 km (down from 5.8) and carbon emissions now even lower, at 149 g/km (down from 152).

“These two new technological additions to the XC90 range will further boost its value and driver enjoyment,” comments Volvo Car South Africa MD, Greg Maruszewski. “Pilot Assist really makes those long highway drives far more enjoyable, especially when you find yourself in a traffic jam. And, with PowerPulse, the XC90 D5 is even better than it was before – a difficult feat to achieve.”

Model year 2017 Volvo XC90s are readily available across the Volvo Cars dealer network in South Africa.

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