Inside information from Volvo points that the Swedish manufacturer is preparing a baby XC90 to compete against the BMW X3. The compact SUV is expected to be introduced as a concept car in next January at the Detroit North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The production version called XC60, will arrive several month later either as a 2008 or 2009 year model.

Due to the worldwide success of the BMW X3, Volvo has decided to pick out of their pockets a brand new compact SUV. Codenamed Y278, the new XC60 (this is the final name, not XC50) will based on Ford’s C1 platform and share a lots of components with the older brother V70 and cousin Land Rover Freelander 2.

The overall dimensions of the new Volvo will be similar to those of the Freelander and both cars will use the same Haldex 4WD system. Even the engines will be common, including the 158 bhp 2.2-liter diesel and Volvo’s new 230 bhp 6-cylinder petrol unit. Different settings will make the Freelander more capable in the off-road and the XC60 a safety champion.

2008 Volvo XC60
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Volvo official sketch

The main competitors of the Volvo XC60 will be the Lexus RX, BMW X3, Acura’s new RDX and the upcoming Mercedes-Benz MLK-Class. The vehicle to have influenced most the design of the new Volvo is the larger XC90, a massive success in the . Due to the popularity of this design, Volvo will make no experiments with the XC60 and will design it as a miniature XC90.

The front will feature the traditional Volvo grille and a new pair of headlamps inspired by those of the latest Volvo models. The pronounced shoulder line is already a Volvo trademark and on the XC60 it will be used to emphasize the sporty character of the car. The overall proportions will give the car a muscular and fresh look as it is meant to appeal to younger buyers than the more conservative XC90.

Our artists have prepared a couple of renderings that show how the future Volvo SUV might look like. The dark tint front lights remind of those of the C30, but the shape is different and more appropriate for a SUV. The front and rear overhangs are shorter and that makes the car look taller.

In the rear new lights and sportier roof spoiler make the main difference to the XC90. Volvo is most likely to assemble the XC60 at their production facility in Gent.

2008 Volvo XC60
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TS artists XC60 rendering

2008 Volvo XC60
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The roots of the new Volvo XC60 lead to the bigger brother, the XC 90 Making its debut in mid-2005, the XC90 V8 became the most powerful model in Volvo’s history. The transversely mounted, compact V8 was tailor-made for the XC90 using a 60-degree “V” configuration. It displaces 4.4-liters and features state-of-the-art technology with 32-valves and continuously variable intake and exhaust valve timing (CVVT). The naturally aspirated V8 develops 311 horsepower at 5,850 rpm and 325 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,900 rpm. In addition to providing premium SUV buyers with the power of a V8, the engine is also the first V8 to meet the stringent ULEV II emissions standards.

About 30 percent of all SUVs sold in the premium segment have V8 engines. This means that five- and six-cylinder versions of the Volvo XC90 have thus far only exploited 70 percent of the market potential - yet still achieved a resounding success. The 30 percent gap has now been covered. “Our V8 package feels immensely solid. When it comes to power and performance, we’re in the same class as the very best in the segment.

What’s more, we’re sure that a large proportion of these customers will appreciate the fact that the power and driveability can be combined with high safety and good environmental properties. It’s important that we can launch a V8 without compromising on our core values,” says Volvo Cars President and CEO Hans-Olov Olsson.

The XC90 V8 is fitted with equally new, standard six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission and All-Wheel Drive with Instant Traction™. The latter employs improved, computer-controlled Haldex AWD that instantaneously delivers up to 50 percent more torque to the rear axle only when needed, such as during takeoff. Instant Traction adds a one-way pre-charging valve to the AWD system that maintains a torque load of 59 foot-pounds, which is available instantly. Prior to Instant Traction, if the AWD system sensed that the front wheels were losing traction, one-seventh of a wheel rotation occurred before it began redirecting torque to the wheels with traction. That rotation could influence performance under certain conditions.

Click here to read a TopSpeed complete review on the 2006 Volvo XC90.

2008 Volvo XC60
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2008 Volvo XC60
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2007 BMW X3


The first compact premium SUV was the BMW X3 that has entered its third year of production flush with success. This is the first vehicle that the new Mercedes-Benz MLK will have to stand against. In its first year, the X3 sold almost as well as the larger X5, doubling BMW’s impact on the SUV market, and there is little sign of the trend toward smaller, more fuel-efficient SUVs cooling off any time soon.

While the X5 has injected the sport-utility segment with much needed on-road athleticism, it is the X3 that really delivers the goods in terms of handling prowess. Perfect weight distribution (50 percent over the front wheels and 50 percent over the rear) and a center of gravity that’s low for an SUV combine with a sophisticated four-wheel independent suspension to produce tenacious cornering abilities (again, for an SUV).

For 2006, the entry-level X3 2.5i with its 2.5-liter V6 engine, which works well in the 3 Series sedan but seems weak in this heavier SUV, gets dropped from the lineup. The only available version is now the 3.0i that is powered by the same 225-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 found in the base X5. Around 600 fewer pounds of curb weight make it seem livelier here. It comes mated to either a six-speed manual gearbox or a slick-shifting five-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability. Fuel economy is fair for a compact SUV: 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

Click here to read our complete BMW X3 review.

2008 Volvo XC60
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2008 Mercedes-Benz MLK rendering

Another premium compact SUV soon to enter the market is the Mercedes-Benz MLK. Known only by the internal development code, 204 SUT, the new Mercedes-Benz compact SUV is rumored to be called the MLK-Class, following the logic of the other compact vehicles in the range (SLK, CLK) inspired by larger models (SL, CL). “K” stands for “kurz”, meaning “short” in German. This name seems to work perfectly for Europe, but in the, it will make an inappropriate resemblance to the initials of the late civil-rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Another name variant taken into account is “MLX-Class” which does not sound bad, but is not a perfect match for the current Mercedes-Benz system. Calling it, simply X-Class is not possible because of the strong similarity with the BMW X3/5 names.

Following the latest tendencies in the SUV construction, same as the latest ML-Class, the new model will use a unitary body construction, rather than a separate chassis, like those used on high-performance off-roaders. Inspired by the BMW X3, the MLK will most likely be oriented towards the ’sport’ rather than the ’utility’ end of the SUV market. In addition, that end is the one to attract most buyers these days, as statistics show that SUV owners rarely use them in off-road.

Due to comparable dimensions and cost reduction policy, the MLK will share the same platform the forthcoming C-Class compact executive saloon, expected in 2007. This can indicate us that the approximate length of the compact Mercedes SUV will be around 177 inches, about 10 inches shorter than the latest ML-Class.

Aside the rest of the C-Class platform vehicles, the MLK will only be in Europe, where Mercedes-Benz is likely to find more buyers for such a compact vehicle. The MLK is expected to feature the more potent engine of the C-Class, including the new four-valve 3.0-liter and 3.5-liter V-6s as well as a supercharged four cylinder and a CDI turbo diesel. As any other model in the range, the MLK is likely to feature an AMG version, featuring the V8 engine known from the C55AMG.

Click here to read more on the Mercedes-Benz MLK.

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