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The 2001 Volvo S60 sedan may be the sportiest new sedan in the company's repertoire, but it's still true to its Swedish roots. That means that it also provides state-of-the-art occupant protection and a break to the environment.
Designed from the same platform as the S80 sedan and V70 wagon, the S60 starts with a structure and impact management system that leads the industry. (The S80 was the first car to gain the U.S. government's five star/five star rating in side impact 'SINCAP' crash testing.) But its differing dimensions, including short overhang front and rear, and longer rear doors, required re-engineering of the front and rear structures. Changes to the S60 (vs S80) permit calculated energy absorption and deformation without compromising platform stiffness or the safety cage protecting occupants.
Not surprisingly, the current high level of safety technology incorporated in other Volvo models has been adapted to S60. The list of safety enhancements reads like a roll-call of Volvo innovations: dual-stage front airbags, SIPS system with side airbags and Inflatable Curtain, WHIPS whiplash protection seating and more.
As always, seat belts play the most important part in occupant safety. Three-point belts with pyrotechnic pre-tensioners and load limiters are placed at all five seating positions. This 'smart' system is integrated with the dual-stage deployment front airbags to better adapt the working of the two technologies to a range of forces. The system uses a sensor to register the severity of an impact and adapts the airbag inflation accordingly while coordinating action with the seat belts. In the case of a severe impact, the airbag is designed to inflate instantly to full capacity at the same time as the belt tensioner eliminates any slack in the belt. The belt then 'gives' slightly to gently restrain the occupant before the airbag takes over to complete the safety sequence.
In cases of less severe impact (impact still great enough to cause potential injury), the airbag is designed to inflate in two stages: initial inflation to 70 per cent of capacity followed by full inflation one-tenth of a second later. Occupants, particularly those sitting closer to the wheel or dashboard, are subject to less force when the bag deploys. The reduced inflation sequence is also used at lower speeds when the system determines that an occupant is not wearing a seat belt.
The SIPS (for Side Impact Protection System) technology uses both the structure to manage side impact forces and side airbags to protect the pelvic, abdominal and chest areas of front passengers.
Working in conjunction with SIPS is the Inflatable Curtain (IC). IC lives in the roof of the S60, along the door areas, and inflates downward to protect the head and upper body of front and rear seat passengers in the case of side impact. Interior surfaces where there is a risk of head or other body impact have also been made "friendlier."
First introduced on the S80, Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) seats are now standard on all Volvo models. The front seats are designed to yield in a calculated manner during rear impacts, enhancing protection against dangerous whiplash injuries to the head and neck.
The ISO-FIX attachment points for optional Volvo-designed rearward-facing child safety seats, first seen on the new V70, are also standard on the S60.
Concerns for personal security are met with multi-functional locking and alarm system, optional laminated side window glass, approach and Home Safe lighting and an available navigation system to keep drivers on the right track.
The Volvo policy of improving environmental practices extends to the new S60. Like the S80 and V70, the new S60 employs the PremAirJ radiator treatment which helps reduce ground-level ozone while driving. A catalytic coating on the rad, PremAir can convert up to 75 per cent of the ozone in the air it contacts into oxygen.
Interior air quality benefits from two initiatives. The first is management of the quality of the air entering the vehicle. Standard equipment on the new S60, a pollen and particle filter blocks airborne contaminants before they can enter the passenger space. An available option called the Interior Air Quality System (IAQS) combines an active carbon filter and gas sensor to further enhance air quality. The gas sensor monitors the level of carbon monoxide in the incoming air and automatically shuts off the air intake before it reaches unhealthy levels. The active carbon filter reduces gasses such as oxides of nitrogen, ground-level ozone and hydrocarbons, sparing passengers from the worst effects of street-level car and truck exhaust as well as fumes from oil, gasoline and even windshield washer spray.
The second thrust is to reduce the effects on passengers of the materials used inside the car. All of the interior materials -- fabrics, leather upholstery, adhesives, thread, padding and so on -- must meet the requirements of Öko-Tex Standard 100, the world=s leading eco-labelling standard. This ensures that materials in the passenger area are free of hazardous compounds and residual products, a significant benefit to allergy sufferers and children.
The new S60 joins a growing list of Volvo models with an Environmental Product Declaration, a comprehensive audit of the environmental impacts and controls in the design, manufacture, use and subsequent recycling of the car. The certification, by Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance of the U.K., evaluates the environmental stewardship over the complete life cycle of the car, including the capabilities of suppliers. The declaration provides consumers with concrete information that will allow them to draw objective comparisons between car models and make informed purchase decisions that include the environmental considerations that are increasingly important to modern families.
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