IMAGINE using your iPhone or Android mobile to pre-heat your car on a cold winter's morning.
It may sound like something from a futuristic fiction movie, but in reality it's all part of Volvo's new connectivity programme.
Cars are getting more intelligent by the second and the technology on offer would have seemed unimaginable a few years ago.
As part of Volvo's 2012 model preview we were given a glimpse into this new technology and used the new free mobile application on iPhones to find, unlock, record journey data and visit a host of other mind-blowing features.
You can even double-check that you locked your car via your mobile phone and, using the same application, are alerted if someone attempts to break into your vehicle - and it gives your vehicle a health check too alerting the driver if bulbs need replacing or oil levels are low.
One has to wonder if insurance companies will look at such advanced security functions and offer financial incentives to owners.
For business users who need to keep track of each journey and make records of mileage etc. an email can be sent to a selected address following each trip.
Although this is not automatic and has to be sent manually, plans are in the pipeline to make it fully automated if desired. Basically, just watch this space.
It takes in-car intelligence to a whole new level and the on-board computer system acquires and organises data constantly and delivers that information at just the right moment.
For example, if a driver's behaviour at the wheel becomes slightly erratic and suggests they may be losing concentration or becoming drowsy, a quiz may be generated to stimulate the driver. A simple concept, but very affective.
Another feature involves the computer blocking an incoming call if the driver is tackling a busy traffic build-up and the situation requires their full attention without unnecessary distractions.
Up to five phones can be connected to each car and that means different drivers can pre-programme their individual preferences such as temperature controls.
This sort of technology is invaluable in the harsh winters of Volvo's original homeland - Sweden, but can be a bonus to us Brits who suffer a fair share of early morning frosts.
Stefan Jacoby, president and cheif executive at Volvo Car Corporation, said: "We design cars around people's needs and lifestyle. Creating an intuitive and ergonomically optimised driver's environment is part of our aim to offer a feeling of relaxed control.
"It is only logical that you should feel in command of your vehicle also after you have parked it."
The connectivity feature is available on all Volvo's new models but they must be signed up to the Volvo On Call system.
In addition, Volvo has also re-launched some of its models with more advanced engines that deliver more power but produce lower carbon emissions and better fuel economy.
The Volvo V70, XC70 and S80 are the first in the model range to feature higher performance versions of the five-cylinder D5 and D3 turbo-diesels.
In the D5 engine Volvo has succeeded in boosting performance from 205bhp to 215bhp while at the same time reducing fuel consumption by eight per cent.
Another new feature is that City Safety is standard on all three models.
This system keeps a watch on vehicles in front via a laser sensor built into the windscreen. The car automatically brakes if the driver does not respond in time when the car in front slows down or stops.
Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake, previously available in the S60, V60 and XC60, is now also featured in the Volvo V70, XC70 and S80.
By using radar and a camera to monitor pedestrians in front of the car, the system initially provides a warning to alert the driver so he or she can brake or steer clear of the pedestrian.
If the driver does not respond, the car automatically brakes with full force moments before the collision becomes unavoidable.
Information in the latest range is delivered via the new Volvo Sensus - a five-inch or seven-inch colour screen in the upper part of the centre stack. The screen is positioned high up to make it easy for the driver to view without taking their eyes off the road.
Prices range from: S80 - £25,245 to £40,885; V70 - £25,995 to £37,985 and XC70 - £28,815 to £41,385.