Volvo S60 on watch for pedestrians

  • 05-Aug-2010 10:11 EDT
Volvo S60 7-10 3.jpg

Volvo's new S60 gets an advanced pedestrian safety system called Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto-Brake.

In terms of technology (notably safety), quality, performance, and aesthetics, Volvo is endeavoring to move its products more toward the premium strata.

Pedestrian safety has been a major element of Volvo’s research, and the new “4-door coupe” S60 gets a system called Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto-Brake. It includes a newly developed dual-mode wide-angle radar unit integrated into the car’s front grille and a camera positioned just ahead of the rearview mirror, both linking into a central control unit. The radar detects any object ahead of the car and establishes its distance from the vehicle, but the camera “decides” what it is.

“Detecting pedestrians with sufficiently high reliability has been a complex challenge,” explained Thomas Broberg, Volvo Senior Safety Advisor. “The auto-brake requires that the object is confirmed by both radar and camera. Our innovative technology is programmed to trace a pedestrian’s pattern of movement and also to calculate whether he or she is likely to step into the road.” The system can detect both adults and children, provided the latter’s height is above 80 cm (31 in).

When the system is activated, an audible warning is heard, a red light flashes in the car’s head-up display, brakes are precharged, and if the driver does not react almost instantly, full braking power is applied. The system can avoid a collision with a pedestrian at speeds up to about 34 km/h (21 mph). At higher speeds, the car’s speed is reduced as much as possible, so mitigating the effects of a collision. Volvo stated that, if speed is halved from 48 km/h (30 mph), fatality risk is lowered by as much as 20% and in certain cases 85%.

Other safety systems on the 4628 mm (182.2 in) long, 1865 mm (73.4 in) wide, 1484 mm (58.4 in) tall S60 include Driver Alert (to alert a tired or distracted driver), Blind Spot Information System, Active Bi-xenon Lighting, and Lane Departure Warning. Wheelbase is 2776 mm (109.3 in).

The S60 is equipped with a Volvo Dynamic chassis. Compared to previous models, this includes a 10% faster steering ratio, with a thicker steering-column tube and stiffer bushing. The front suspension struts get thicker pistons to increase stiffness by 47%, and springs are shorter and stiffer, with Eigen frequency upped by about 10%. Front spring strut mounting stiffness is increased by 50%.

Electronic chassis aids include Corner Traction Control, which uses torque vectoring to improve handling. A FOUR-C chassis is an option, with automatically adjustable damper settings but with driver-controlled settings of comfort, sports, and advanced. Former British Touring Car champion John Cleland helped develop the chassis.

The initial engine range includes a 3.0-L inline gasoline six producing 227 kW (304 hp) and 440 N·m (325 lb·ft) and a five-cylinder diesel with 153-kW (205-hp) output and up to 420 N·m (310 lb·ft). Other engines to be added to the range include a 1.6-L 86-kW (115-hp) diesel with 270 N·m (199 lb·ft) slated for an EU combined fuel consumption of about 4.3 L/100 km and sub 115-g/km CO2 emissions.

In terms of aesthetics, Volvo’s move upmarket will be under the direction of Peter Horbury, who moved from Volvo in 2004 to join Ford in the U.S. as Executive Director, Design, The Americas, but returned to Volvo in Sweden in 2009 as Vice President Design. The first model to be designed by him since rejoining the company—now part of the Zhejiang Geely organization—will be seen in 2012.

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