DTA reveals its three-step myGov overhaul path – Strategy- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The Digital Transformation Agency has revealed its three-step path to an updated myGov digital services platform that promises citizens a single, tailored view of all their interactions with the federal government.
In a week dominated by problems with the existing online service portal due to the unprecedented number of people seeking welfare services, the agency has offered fresh detail on its vision for the new platform.
It follows an industry briefing with system integrators and strategic partners looking to work with the DTA on the build on Monday, when Services Australia was scrambling to increase capacity to a platform under siege. 
A prototype of the platform also called the government digital experience platform (GOVDXP) that will initially “operate as an extension to, and in parallel with, myGov” has already been designed and developed by the DTA and Services Australia.

Source: Digital Transformation Agency

But the prototype, which resembles that of recognisable social media platforms such as Facebook, is intended to eventually give citizens a single, tailored view of their interactions with government, in particular Services Australia.
It is considered a key element of the government’s vision for Services Australia, which has been remade in the image of Service NSW to replicate its successful digital-first, one-stop shop government services model nationally. 
Three horizons
The DTA has detailed three key releases – or horizons – for the project, each of which will add further functionality to the myGov update platform, which builds on “existing technical platforms maintained by Services Australia”.
“The intent is to continually enhance the product and productionise features, to support the end state future myGov update platform,” the DTA said in the requirements document for the platform.
Horizon zero, which showcases the design principles of the new platform has already been released as a new Australia.gov.au home page that offers information on the current coronavirus pandemic.
The solution, which is hosted on Amazon Web Services through Cloud.gov.au, is comprised of the Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Analysis and Adobe Campaign, and could eventually integrate with other platform like Notify.gov.au.
“The demonstrated prototype currently has no third-party integration but demonstrates the intended target state of services which may be exposing APIs over time for us to connect to,” the DTA said.
Big four consultancy Deloitte has been selected for an initial 90-day sprint to configure the prototype – which it expects to be complete in May – and perform additional user research and service design for the prototype.
Under horizon one, the DTA, working with a new system integrator and strategic partner, will develop a new government platform that “provides personalised content, with a web-based myGov inbox, opt-in notifications and login access to myGov” from July.
The DTA then intends to build out the platform, so that it becomes a “place where people can browse information and, once logged in, manage their interactions with government in a central place”.
“The new front end will provide dashboard, profile, inbox and forms, along with information systems such as content pages and notifications,” it said in a blog post.
“An integration layer will sit over the myGov systems, providing a way for information to flow back and forth between the myGov website and the myGov systems.”
“The platform will collect services, apps and other customer experience capabilities to give users everything they need.”
“This will operate on a ‘Netflix’ model, providing users with what they need to do next based on their previous interactions with government services — similar to Netflix’s ‘recommended for you’.
While no date for when horizons one and two will be complete beyond a July start date, the DTA  has not altered its procurement timeline in light of COVID-19.
The week that was (is)
Details of the work follows a difficult few days for Services Australia, which failed to successfully scale to accommodate the influx of people who flooded myGov after loosing their jobs to the coronavirus induced shutdown on Monday.
Problems with the existing platform have since tapered after the agency increased capacity to 150,000 concurrent users, more than 25 times what myGov could support last week.
Government services minister Stuart Robert on Wednesday said myGov had facilitated 2.6 million logins during the day, bringing the total since Tuesday to just under six million.
myGov logins currently average at around 500,000 each day, with the previous busiest day occurring during the 2019 taxtime period last July, where 1.8 million logins were recorded in a single day.
Robert said Services Australia would continue to add more capacity to myGov to support the unprecedented number of people attempting to access welfare services.
“We’re upgrading myGov capacity by creating more load space in our ICT systems to accommodate the surge in demand,” he said.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation and adjust so we can allow as many people to use myGov without compromising overall systems stability.” 
The myGov meltdown was initially blamed on a “significant distributed-denial-of-service attack” that didn’t happen.
Robert has now admitted he ‘jumped the gun’ and did not wait for the outcome of Service Australia’s investigation before blaming the traffic surge on a cyber attack.

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HPE Unveils Open 5G Portfolio to Speed Path of Telecoms to Revenue | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Sourced from Silicon Angle

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced a new portfolio of as-a-service offerings to help telecommunications companies build and deploy open 5G networks. The portfolio is for accelerating telecoms on the path to revenue growth with 5G and enables them to rapidly deploy 5G services to employees and customers.
“5G has the potential to revolutionize our digital lives and the combination of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 presents telcos with an unlimited array of possibilities for offering subscribers new and compelling services that can transform the user experience,” says Keerti Melkote, president of Intelligent Edge at HPE and founder of Aruba Networks.
“With a broad portfolio of innovations that span from the telco core to the enterprise edge, HPE is the only platform-as-a-service company that can deliver the infrastructure, software solutions, and the technical expertise to support global telcos in their quest to fully realize the promise of 5G.”
HPE’s edge-to-cloud platform is uniquely positioned to help telecoms capitalize on the 5G opportunity by leveraging a cloud-native software stack for 5G core, and by optimizing telecom core and edge infrastructure blueprints, and Wi-Fi 6 enabled services.
Built on open and interoperable platforms combined with carrier-grade infrastructure and modular software components, the portfolio of offerings allow telecoms to incorporate more automation, become more agile, and deploy new 5G services faster across the telco core, the telco edge and into the enterprise.
“Openness is essential to the evolutionary nature of 5G and with HPE 5G Core Stack telcos can reduce operational costs, deploy features faster and keep themselves open to multiple networks and technologies while avoiding being locked-in to a single vendor approach,” says Phil Mottram, VP and GM of the CMS Business Unit at HPE.
“HPE has one of the broadest 5G portfolios in the market and is uniquely positioned to help telcos build an open multi-vendor 5G core, optimize the edge with vRAN, and deliver connectivity and new compute services to the enterprise using MEC and Wi-Fi 6,” he continues.
5G promises to revolutionize the technology landscape, but the journey to pervasive 5G is in its early stages. To fully realize the benefits and power of 5G, a standalone 5G core needs to be combined with the nascent 5G radio access networks.
At the edge of the telco network, legacy network infrastructure in the RAN also uses proprietary network technology that results in high operational costs and limited agility. Furthermore, the higher frequencies of 5G have issues penetrating buildings, therefore telecoms will need to be able to utilize both 5G RAN and Wi-Fi 6 networks in the enterprise in order to provide uninterrupted service to their customers as they enter shopping malls, campuses, and office buildings.
HPE’s open 5G portfolio offers the solution to these 5G challenges at the core, at the edge and in the enterprise and promises to unleash the potential of 5G, enabling a host of new applications across a range of industries, including automotive, education, financial services, government, manufacturing, and utilities.
These edge-to-cloud 5G-ready technologies are available on a pay-as-you-go or subscription basis via HPE GreenLake.
With HPE GreenLake, telecoms can grow and expand their network as new users come online and pay monthly based on measured utilization. Through HPE GreenLake, the entire stack can be operated on behalf of the customer to free resources to focus on innovation at the network and enterprise edge.
Accelerating the Adoption of 5G with a cloud-native 5G Core software stack
The promise of 5G will be unleashed through open, modern platforms, interoperable with existing networks to allow telecoms to bring new 5G services to the market quickly while bridging from previous generation networks. Only when radio access networks are combined with a 5G core network can the true value of 5G be realized as management becomes more holistic.
The HPE 5G Core Stack is a cloud-native, containerized 5G core network software stack that accelerates the journey to new 5G revenue streams seamlessly integrates with previous generation networks and is future-ready for upcoming advancements in 5G standards.
The 5G Core Stack will be available as an integrated software and hardware platform, based on validated HPE Telco core and edge blueprints, and delivered as-a-service with HPE GreenLake. By deploying a truly open, cloud-native 5G core, telcos can swap out network functions as needed, enabling them to respond to market developments and avoid vendor lock-in.
Extending the 5G Experience to the Enterprise with Wi-Fi 6
Today, when subscribers enter a building and manually switch to the enterprise Wi-Fi network to maintain high-performance connectivity inside, subscriber access and visibility can be lost, limiting the telco operators’ ability to deliver services. Using Passpoint technology and the new Aruba Air Pass service, cellular subscribers can now securely and automatically roam onto participating Aruba enterprise customer Wi-Fi networks using their SIM credentials and be visible to mobile network operators.
This technology extends the 5G footprint into the enterprise while allowing telecoms access to Wi-Fi connected users and IoT devices and is essential for maintaining high service levels and the ability to create and monetize new services.
HPE will partner to accelerate opportunities building on Aruba Air Pass and Air Slice to further enhance the integration of the network and customer edges by enabling subscribers to seamlessly roam from 5G cellular to Wi-Fi networks along with the guaranteed quality of service, all cloud-managed by Aruba Central. Aruba Central is a unified network operation, assurance and security platform that simplifies the deployment, management and service assurance of wireless, wired and SD-WAN environments.
The full HPE 5G Core Stack will be available globally in the second half of 2020 with consumption-based pricing based on HPE GreenLake models.
Aruba Air Pass and Aruba Air Slice are generally available today.
Edited by Luis Monzon
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Opinion: AMD highlights path to the future – Blog – 10 minute

Why it matters: After a gangbuster performance on the stock market for the last several years, AMD, CEO Dr. Lisa Su, and its executive leadership team have been under the glare of a lot of media attention recently. Despite the apparent pressure, however, the company keeps coming out swinging and the announcements from last week’s Financial Analyst Day indicate that AMD is showing no signs of letting up.
In fact, the key takeaway from the event was that the company leadership—and apparently many of the financial analysts who attended—now have even more confidence in the business’ future. The company was even willing to reiterate its guidance for the first quarter, which, given the impact of the coronavirus on many its customers and the tech industry as a whole, was an impressively optimistic statement.
As a long-time company observer, what particularly stood out to me was that the company has now built up a several-year history of achieving some fairly grand plans based on big decisions it made 4-5 years back. In the past, previous AMD leadership has also talked about big ideas, but frankly, they weren’t able to deliver on them. The key difference with the current leadership team is that they are now able to execute on those ideas. As a result, the credibility of their forward-looking plans has gone up significantly.
And what plans they are. The company made a number of important announcements about its future product strategies and roadmaps at the event, most all of which were targeted around high-performance computing, both for CPUs and GPUs.
On the GPU roadmap, a particularly noteworthy development was the introduction of a new datacenter-focused GPU architecture named CDNA (“C” for Compute)—an obvious link to the RDNA architecture currently used for PC and gaming-consoled focused GPU designs. Full details around CDNA and specific Radeon Instinct GPUs based on it are still to come, but the company is clearly focusing on the machine learning, AI, and other datacenter-focused workloads that its primary competitor Nvidia has been targeting for the last several years.

One key point the company made is that the second and third generation CDNA-based GPUs would leverage the company’s Infinity interconnect architecture, allowing future CPUs and GPUs to share memory in a truly heterogenous computing environment, as well as providing a way for multiple GPU “chiplets” to connect with one another. The company even talked about offering software that would convert existing CUDA code (which Nvidia uses for its data center GPUs) into platform-agnostic HIP code that would run on these new CDNA-based GPUs.
AMD also talked about plans for future consumer-focused GPUs and discussed its next-generation RDNA2 technology and Navi 2X chips, which are expected to offer hardware-accelerated support for ray tracing, as well as improvements in variable rate shading and overall performance per watt.
Notably, the hardware ray tracing support is expected to be a common architecture between both PCs and gaming consoles (both the PlayStation 5 and next-generation Xbox are based on custom AMD GPU designs), so that should be an important advancement for game developers. The company also mentioned RDNA3, which is expected in the 2020-2021 timeframe and will be manufactured with what is described as an “Advanced Node.” Presumably that will be smaller than the 7nm production being used for current RDNA-based GPUs and those based on the forthcoming RDNA2 architecture.
“It’s clear that AMD is here to stay. For the sake of the overall semiconductor market and the competitiveness that it will enable, that’s a good thing.”
Speaking of production, the company discussed how it intends to move forward aggressively, not only on smaller size process nodes, but also to add in 2.5 and 3D chip stacking (which it termed X3D). Over the past year or so, packaging technologies have taken on new levels of importance for future semiconductor designs, so it will be interesting to see what AMD does here.

On the CPU side, the company laid out its roadmap for several new generations of its Zen core CPU architectures, including a 7nm-based Zen 3 core expected in the next year or so, and the company’s first 5nm CPU, the Zen 4, planned for 2021 or 2022.
AMD made a point to highlight the forthcoming Ryzen Mobile 4000 series CPUs for notebooks, expected to be available later this month, which the company expects will boost them to the top of the notebook performance charts, just as the Ryzen Zen 2-based CPUs did for desktops. The company also mentioned that its 3rd-generation Epyc server processor, codenamed Milan and based on the forthcoming Zen 3 core, is expected to ship later this year.

For even higher-performance computing, the combination of Zen 4-based CPU cores, 3rd generation CDNA GPU cores and the 3rd generation Infinity interconnect architecture in the late 2022 timeframe is also what enables the exascale level of computing powering AMD’s recent El Capitan supercomputer announcement.
Built in conjunction with HPE on behalf of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and the US Department of Energy, El Capitan is expected to be the fastest supercomputer in the world when it’s released and, amazingly, will be more powerful than today’s 200 fastest supercomputers combined.
All told, it was a very impressive set of announcements that highlights how AMD continues to build on the momentum it started to create a few years back. Obviously, there are enormous questions about exactly where the tech market is headed in the short term, but looking further out, it’s clear that AMD is here to stay. For the sake of the overall semiconductor market and the competitiveness that it will enable, that’s a good thing.
Bob O’Donnell is the founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting and market research firm. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech. This article was originally published on Tech.pinions.

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How Easy Offices and Croud used SEO and PPC to smooth the path for international expansion- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Croud won the ‘Integrated SEO & PPC’ category at Tempemail Search Awards Europe 2019 with its campaign for Easy Offices. Here, the agency reveals the challenges faced and the strategies used to deliver this successful project.
The challenge
Established in 1999, Easy Offices is one of the UK’s leading specialist advisers on serviced offices. They partner with office companies in London and throughout the UK to provide temporary offices for businesses needing short-term, flexible choices.
Easy Offices turned to Croud with the goal of becoming the biggest office space broker globally. This would be the first time the company would create brand awareness and reach outside of the UK through SEO.
The strategy
As Easy Offices’ long-standing search marketing partner, Croud had seen success with various SEO and PPC tactics across the UK account. Dynamic search ads (DSA) had proven particularly successful in the UK, driving a 7% month-on-month uplift in leads and 5% increase in enquiries for Easy Offices in that market, by allowing the office broker to tap into audiences looking for their services.
However, DSA relies on a well-developed website with lots of relevant content, and the Easy Offices site had little to no content for rest of the world and was noindex nofollow. This meant that Google couldn’t crawl the site to run DSA, nor did we have content in place to support the domain becoming visible across international market SERPs.
As such, Croud’s PPC and SEO teams worked closely together to come up with a data-driven strategy for driving visibility and conversions outside of the UK.
We needed to make sure that their global PPC budget was being used efficiently, while boosting organic traffic to their website in markets outside of the UK. Through an integrated, data-driven approach, the team aimed to find a way to optimise paid and organic search activity, in order to drive more impressions, clicks and conversions, while reducing cost.
The campaign
The first step was to understand how to prioritise which markets should have content produced and opened up for Google to index, to support Easy Offices in their global expansion ambitions.
We combined organic and paid data to understand which markets should be prioritised in terms of global content production. To determine the phased roll-out of SEO across markets, the Croud team conducted a search landscape analysis to better understand the current competition (using PPC competitors) and the commercial value of each market.
This analysis involved looking at metrics such as:

Total search volume for ranking keywords per market
Competition levels in each market
Average cost-per-click (CPC) of each market
Total cost to capture all of the search volume in each market via PPC (using CPC x search volume per keyword)
Number of enquiries from PPC for each market
Number of deals from PPC for each market
Total revenue from PPC for each market
Average deal value from PPC for each market

Following this analysis, we then looked at which markets over-indexed across the average values of the above metrics, giving each market an overall roll-out priority percentage score, in order to determine a top-three priority market list. This list was filtered to include only English-speaking markets to start with, which made the most sense for the business overall.
From this analysis, we determined that Australia – with a roll-out priority score of 89%, driven by under-average competition and above average CPC for PPC to attain visibility – made the most sense as our initial target market for content production.
The next step was to produce search-led content that aligned to PPC-targeted terms. We analysed a search query report from PPC conducted in the last 12 months to understand local market search behaviour. This approach meant that all content being produced was data-led, targeting key terms that had proven to deliver results for PPC in the Australian market. This data was also used to decide on four product landing pages for the highest revenue-driving queries.
We then utilised our global Croudie network, Croud’s unique network of 2,000+ on-demand digital marketing specialists across the globe, to write highly localised, unique copy for 12 Australian cities, and 83 office centres in those cities. We continually reviewed the best-performing ad copy and fed the insight back into the new pages’ metadata optimisation, encompassing page titles, meta descriptions and H1 tags.
With the newly created content published and indexed, the team were all set to launch dynamic search ads in Australia, in order to take advantage of the relevant content that was now on the Easy Offices website for the Australian market.
The results
DSA was launched in Australia in early September 2018, driving impressive results across the board for Easy Offices. Looking at the four months prior to launch (May – August 2018) versus the four months post-launch (September – December 2018), Easy Offices saw the following results across its PPC activity in Australia:

Impressions increased by 1,321%
A 608% uplift in clicks
Average cost-per-click decreased by 20%
Conversions were up 440%

With such impressive results, this strategy is now being rolled out across other international markets for Easy Offices, setting them well on their way to becoming the biggest office space broker globally.
“Croud has a truly integrated approach to digital marketing, and this campaign is a great example of the synergy between their SEO and PPC teams. By taking a smart, methodical approach to the challenge of driving international visibility and enquiries for Easy Offices, Croud has set us up well to achieve our goal of becoming the number-one office broker globally, and we’re excited to continue rolling out this approach across more markets.” – Digital Director, Easy Offices
The project as a winner at Tempemail Search Awards Europe 2019. 2020’s event is now open for entries – click here to find out more.

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Huawei decision takes UK down path of least resistance | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

Clearing Huawei for use in Britain’s 5G networks will come as a blow to the company’s competitors, particularly Ericsson and Nokia, the two Nordic infrastructure providers who stood to benefit most from filling in the gaps left in provision.
Currently, the three companies are the only players capable of providing all the hardware needed to roll out Britain’s 5G network, according to Andrew Stark, a director at cybersecurity business Red Mosquito.
“With Huawei kit already integral to the UK 3G and 4G networks, shifting to 5G with them offers the path of least resistance and increases chances of telecom companies meeting tight roll-out targets. There are currently only two other tech players capable of providing hardware for 5G, namely Nokia and Ericsson.”
What’s more, say analysts Fitch Solutions, “there is a lack of interoperability between equipment vendors, which means it is easier to use Huawei for 5G if it is already used for 4G, at least for early 5G networks … It means that an operator which had used Huawei for 4G, but wants another provider for 5G, will need to replace its existing 4G network. This will be both costly and time-consuming.”
The absence of an American corporation from that list has left the US particularly uneasy about its role. Networking giant Cisco has been working on a form of 5G that uses a technique called network slicing, which could allow for much more flexible networks to be developed in the future, but the hardware isn’t advanced enough to underpin national infrastructure.
Other companies, including South Korea’s Samsung and Japan’s Rakuten, have also built competing 5G implementations, but without a pre-existing footprint in the UK, British carriers have been loth to take a chance on new suppliers while simultaneously launching their largest infrastructural upgrade in decades.
The potential security threat posed by Huawei is ameliorated in part by the unprecedented creation of an oversight board, chaired by the head of the national cybersecurity centre, that has the power to examine the company’s operations in Britain.
But the 2019 report from the clunkily-named Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre Oversight Board was a mixed bag for the company: the board criticised the quality of Huawei’s work, and argued that it could only provide “limited assurance” about security risks in the long term as a result.
While it found no obvious signs of malfeasance, it was instead perturbed by the lack of clear software development practices that, for instance, made it impossible to verify that the code the centre examined was the same as that loaded into sensitive hardware.
The US has publicly argued against the “edge/core” distinction the UK plans on enforcing, whereby Huawei equipment would be kept out of the sensitive work at the core of the network, and relegated to relatively “dumb” roles in towers and on the fibre backbone.
American diplomats have argued that the distinction is moot for 5G, which has much better support for edge computing, where complex work is done at the point of connection to minimise latency. But industry insiders have dismissed the US argument.
“That’s such an old chestnut, they’ve been peddling this for the last 18 months. It’s something they can say for the sake of making an argument, but doesn’t reflect our actual security policies at all,” said one senior staffer of a UK network. In practice, they said, an edge node carrying out sensitive work can easily be treated as core for security purposes,” said one.
For many domestic critics of the company, however, the issue is not security, but broader economic fairness.
Huawei has benefited from substantial state support, both direct and indirect, enabling it to rapidly expand into Asian and African markets, providing it economies of scale that have allowed it to leverage into further advantage in Europe. The result is that the firm is able to provide equipment that is more capable, and cheaper, than that made by its competitors.

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2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Review: the PHEV Path to High Performance

The new Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered is how other future performance cars should be propelled, as long as we have combustion engines: with help from electric booster motors in addition to turbochargers and superchargers. That is the case with the 2020 Volvo T8 XC60 eAWD Polestar-Engineered, a compact SUV with a big name, meant to compete with the Audi SQ5, BMW X3 M, Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, and even the Porsche Macan S.

For $70,000, you get a car that’s fast, safe, roomy for four, and tastefully appointed inside. This plug-in hybrid EV is good for about 17 miles on battery alone, with the battery caching enough electricity to take you from zero to 60 mph in as little five seconds. The XC60 PE runs $30,000 more than the entry XC60, much of the extra cost from equipment made standard and the rest from PHEV technology and go-fast parts.

XC60 PE on the Road

The XC60 Polestar Engineered retains much of the ride smoothness, cabin amenities, and driver assists of the second-generation XC60 that debuted a year ago. It is a lot faster, the PE’s 11.6-kWh battery lets you drive electrically in HOV lanes without the burden of carpool passengers, and the optional 22-inch wheels and 35-series tires will be pothole magnets outside Florida and Arizona. This test drive, however, was scenic Banff in the Canadian Rockies. Canada, apparently, has built a border wall that keeps out American-style potholes.

When you tromp the throttle to pass, the XC60 responds very quickly. Volvo cites the 5-second 0-60 time; I was able to get down to 6 seconds on a private airfield made available to Volvo, but had to abort the last and seemingly best run because a private plane was landing at the other end. (The cars, the plane, and the makeshift tower were in radio contact.) On slalom and emergency braking courses, there was very little body roll in testing, and the Akebono brakes hauled the car down from near-double-digit speeds while maintaining a straight line. Under the hood are user-adjustable Swedish Ohlins shock absorbers you can dial in to 20-some settings by opening the hood and turning the gold-colored knob at the top of the shock tower. In doing this Volvo stepped back from adaptive suspensions that adjust the ride and handling multiple times a second. I’m not sure this is an improvement for most drivers.

There are six drive modes accessed by a shiny console roller wheel (that is a bit slippery) and that controls engine, transmission, steering, brakes, stability control, and auto start/stop functions, including Hybrid, Pure (prioritizes battery operation), Power, AWD, Off-Road, and Individual. A Hold-and-Charge button maintains the current battery level for later use (Hold) or brings the battery up to a fixed level (Charge). The PE model also has the crystal starter knob but not the Orrefors crystal shifter that, to some, brings ostentation into the cockpit (and then got copycatted by BMW).

Volvo put a lot of work into smoothing the transition from electric to gas-only driving and back, as well as to the braking transition from power regeneration to friction.

Back-seat passengers have reasonable room and supportive seats. They only thing they might wish for is their own USB jacks, an oversight on any 2020 car, let alone one at this price point.

Unlike a lot of sporty cars and SUVs, the XC60 Polestar Engineered never rides harshly.

Tech and Safety Features

It’s a Volvo. It’s safe. End of discussion. If you must know, safety includes the following:

Volvo On Call (telematics), roll stability control, electronic stability control, lane keeping aid, drowsy/distracted driver alert control, oncoming lane mitigation, road sign information, automatic braking after collision, run-off road mitigation, run-off road protection, collapsible steering column, safety belt pre-tensioners, safety belt load limiters, automatic unlocking after collision, collapsible brake pedal, city safety (includes accident avoidance or mitigation with 37 mph speed difference), intersection auto brake, pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection with auto brake & brake support, energy absorbing seat cushions, front, side & knee airbags, inflatable curtain airbags, anti-submarining protection in seat design, forward collision warning (including short brake pulse. audible warning signal, warning in driver display or head-up display).

Volvo’s semi-autonomous Pilot Assist system is very good, keeping the car centered while maintaining a set speed or pacing the car in front. A Level 2 autonomous car by definition must have adaptive cruise control and lane centering assist.

Other driver assists include lane centering assist and blind-spot detection (blind-spot information system) with steer assist that provides counter-steering when trying to merge into a nearby vehicle’s path and oncoming lane mitigation that tries to avoid a collision if you drift in the path of an oncoming vehicle, at anywhere from 37 to 87 mph. Basically: It reacts before you might, you can always overcome the force, and you don’t have to arm-wrestle the wheel the way you do with BMW’s over-active steering corrections.

The instrument panel is a 12.3-inch LCD (“Digital Driver Display,” now standard at Volvo), and the 9-inch center stack, portrait-orientation center touchscreen (“Sensus Connect”) continues. Some owners and reviewers ding Sensus Connect for complexity. The main trick to Sensus karma is remembering if you don’t see what you want, swipe left or right for two additional screens.

Seventy large gets you gold seatbelts with the XC60 Polestar Engineered.

Polestar: How You Beat Volvo’s 112 mph Cap

The XC60 Polestar adjuster knob on the Ohlins shocks is also gold.

Polestar is Volvo’s performance sub-brand, a joint venture of Volvo and Volvo parent Geely. Polestar will be an electrified performance brand. Its first two vehicles are Polestar 1, a “low-volume electric performance [plug-in] hybrid GT,” with 600 hp and a battery range of 93 miles (150 km), and Polestar 2, an EV-only vehicle competing with Tesla Model 3. Polestar Engineered will apply performance techniques to new Volvos such as the XC60 PE here, but also as performance and software tweaks for existing Volvos. And there is a related Polestar Racing team.

When Volvo announced would cap top speeds at 112 mph (180 km/h) in 2021, in the interests of higher safety and lower energy consumption, Polestar was not subjected to the mandate. Otherwise, Volvo would be competing with one hand tied behind its back against the performance models from Acura, Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Lexus, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche. The SQ5 and MB-AMG GLC top out at 155 mph, the Macan S at 157, and the X3 M at 174, for instance. The XC60 Polestar Engineered will reach 140 mph. Close enough.

Volvo XC60 Models and Trims

The XC60 Polestar Engineered sits atop the XC60 food chain. Except for the XC60 PE, there are three four-cylinder engine choices: T5 turbocharged with 250 hp, T6 turbocharged and supercharged with 316 hp, and T8 turbocharged, supercharged plus an electric motor, with 400 hp, or 415 hp for the Polestar Engineered.

The trim lines and variants are:

XC60 Momentum, $41,790-$55,590 base prices (plus packages and options). On all trim lines, front-drive is for the T5 only and AWD adds $2,300, T6 AWD adds another $3,500, and T8 eAWD adds $8,000.

XC60 R-Design, $48,490-$62,290 base prices for the four engine/drivetrain variants. This is the sporty model. The T8 R-Design comes pretty close to the Polestar Engineered model.

XC60 Inscription, $48,490-$62,290 base prices. This is the luxury model.

XC60 eAWD Polestar Engineered, $70,495. The is the high-performance sport model (reviewed here) and comes standard with all-wheel-drive, the T8 engine, and the features optional on other XC60s. The only options are 21- or 22-inch wheels instead of the stock 20s, and $645 for most paint colors.

Should You Buy?

While the Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered runs $30,000 more than the cheapest XC60, it runs a more reasonable $8,205 over the R-Design T8 PHEV and is in line with what the competition charges for its highest-performance compact SUVs. Recharge time at a Level 2 charger is a decent 2.5 hours. The same supplied cable also does 120 volts at home.

Among premium compact SUVs, if you want the efficiency of a plug-in hybrid, or you want the ability to get in HOV lanes with only you in the car, the XC60 Polestar Engineered does the trick, as do the mainstream Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription with the T8 PHEV powerplant.

If you want all-out performance, then look also at the BMW X3 or X3 M, arguably the best premium compact SUV on the road today, along with the Audi Q5 / SQ 5, and the Porsche Macan / Macan S. Most of them will be getting plug-in hybrid variants over the next year or two, both because it’s one way to wring more power from four-cylinder engines, and because it helps the automaker’s corporate average fuel economy numbers. Also, buyers in this demographic want efficient cars. The Lexus NX is interesting because it offers a hybrid version, though critics say it’s not as refined as other Lexus hybrids.

Shop and test drive the new XC60s as well. The famous names have trackable SUVs and now Volvo does. If you want performance, definitely look to the Polestar Engineered version, as well as the T8 version of the XC60 R-Design, which is effectively Polestar Lite and $8K cheaper, but you don’t get gold seatbelts or brake calipers.

Do not buy the 21- or 22-inch wheel option unless you also spring $1,000 for tire/wheel damage insurance, or you live in a state that doesn’t see snow. The twenties are good enough.

In addition to the usual buy-or-lease choices, check out Care by Volvo, a subscription service (yes, CBV sounds like an extended maintenance and warranty program, but it isn’t) that lets you get a new Volvo for a year, swap for a second Volvo for a year, then end the program, or continue with another car. Care by Volvo covers all costs outside of gas and tolls, including insurance. If the carrier (Liberty Mutual) approves you, you pay the same as everyone else does for the car, for instance, $750 a month for an XC60 Momentum. You can do most of your shopping online and only see the dealer for paperwork and delivery.

One final buying tip: Before seeing the 2020 Volvo lineup, I was not a fan of light-colored interiors because they’re a bear to keep clean if you have kids or pets, if you eat in the car, or if you do Subaru-like things (kayak, camp, mountain-climb) that track in dirt. But Volvo SUVs with blonde interiors – light-colored seats and interior trim – are dazzling, worth a look (especially the XC90 with second-row captain’s chairs), and worth the extra cleaning.

Who knows blonde better than the Swedes? The light upholstery (here in the six-passenger XC90) makes the cabin light and airy.

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