Have you driven one of the new Volvo cars? You should. I’ll be the first to admit though, that I have an affinity to the Volvo brand.
Those of you who’ve known me or my career in this industry should remember that for 2-years in the mid-90’s, I left the motoring-journalism line to become the (then) youngest PR Manager for (then) Federal Auto Cars (FAC). I had hair back then…
I was privy to the inner workings of Volvo at the time, and even launched a few models, including the C70 Coupe, 850 T-5R and 850 R (above), not to mention the later S70, V70 and S90.
Volvo was just emerging from its ‘boxy but good’ shell during that time too, the Peter Hobury designed C70 (above) for instance was unlike anything coming from this venerable Swedish carmaker in the past. Here’s Hobury himself talking us through the C70 design inspiration:
Sleek, seductive and sexy as hell (even till today, 20+ years later), the C70 represented the turning-point for Volvo in terms of design, just as how the 850 T-5 Estate (below) taking on the British Touring Car Championship changed the global perception of station-wagons forever.
We had a saying back then, “Bums in seats sell Volvos”. I even had this printed out and pasted on my office wall. It was our mantra. Far from being anything too suggestive or coy, it merely meant that in order for people to know just how good the cars really were, we’d have to get them into the driver’s seat. Well, the road-going ones anyway…
Thus began my association with the brand, which has lasted a lot longer than my actual stint at FAC to be honest. People still come up to me till today and ask how are things at Volvo. Well, judging from what’s been emerging from Volvo Car Malaysia (VCM) of late, I have to say, things are looking quite incredible.
VCM recently launched what has to be the ‘sleeper‘ of the year in the form of the S90 T8 (above), a twin-engine’d slayer with 407bhp and 640Nm of torque, capable of doing the century-dash in under 5sec. All things considered, it’s a steal at RM348,888!
Well, as the saying on my wall 20 years ago went, I recently got my bum into the driver’s seat of two of the newest cars from VCM, the S90 (above) and V90 (below), and folks, I gotta tell you, it’s simply amazing what Volvo has achieved in the last two decades.
First off, just look at them. No really, look. ‘Sexy’ was never a word one would associate with Volvo; safe yes, but sexy? Never. Until now that is. I’m not going to bore you with technical details this time around, in fact, you can read all the tech details of both cars in our launch article here. There’s even a video of the cars at that link.
What I am going to do is tell you what it’s like to live with and drive one of these new Volvos, and why they feel so different from anything coming from the “Big 3” via Germany.
I had a long think about this the other day, and managed to convince myself that it wasn’t because of my past history with the brand, I mean let’s face it, Volvo cars were very different two decades ago, where their only USP was ‘safety’. Volvos were safe cars, period.
No, it had something to do with the way Volvo were making cars today that got my attention the moment I got my bum in that seat.
In the clinically adept – to the point of being almost sterile – ambiance of interiors from the aforementioned Big 3, Volvo has created a ‘living environment’ for the S90 & V90 that exudes a kind of warmth and appeal that’s going to be hard to match if one doesn’t have any passion at all when it comes to car building.
For example, as everyone knows, Volvo makes the best seats in the world for their cars, insofar as comfort is concerned. They not only allow for the perfect driving position, but they’re also orthopedically tested to ensure that the correct driving posture is attained at all times, which makes for a more pleasant and fatigue-free drive.
Passengers are ensconced in an interior that’s not only exceedingly comfortable, it also feels secure. And because it’s a Volvo, you just know for a fact that it really is, and doesn’t just feel that way.
The other thing I realised early on was that even when parked, these new Volvos seem to beckon, drawing you in with their ‘Thor’s Hammer’ gaze. It’s a weird thing, but the cars seem to make you want to go for a drive, even when you really had no intention to do so. I can’t recall the last time a test car made me want to do this.
In terms of exterior, there’s a famous saying that goes “If you don’t look back after parking, you bought the wrong car…” Well, the S90 & V90 are both going to have you looking back over your shoulder as you walk away, long after you’ve parked… I guarantee that.
The versatility of V90 is undeniable of course, and with the rear seats folded, there’s a gargantuan amount of space to be had, ideal for those among you who spend weekends at IKEA, or find yourself running out of boot-space either for work or play with your sedan.
However, perhaps for the first time ever, I seem to be drawn to the sedan variant more than the wagon, if only because in my book, it’s the best looking thing in this segment, bar none. Maybe the V90 T6 R Design I’m getting later may change my mind, but for now, the S90 has me hook, line and sinker. This is the kind of car that’s going to make you look forward to driving it every day. It’ll make you smile just looking it at it…
It’s the kind of car what you’ll find yourself sneaking peeks at through the living room curtains, the kind of car you’ll be making excuses to go for a drive in. In short, the S90 makes you want to drive it; it has something that the Big 3 seem to have lost in their chase to be numero uno.
There’s a fire and passion behind those Thor’s Hammer headlights that promises a lot more than a mere commute with every drive. At the very least, seeing this thing parked in your porch is going to excite you. It did for me and it isn’t even mine! That’s as best as I can put it.
Yes, it’s ‘safe’ to say (pun intended) that Volvo has indeed come a long way. Their designs are getting so much better and more radical with each passing iteration, their engines are benefiting from the latest hybrid and PHEV technologies, and strictly speaking from a performance perspective, the cars are getting faster and yet safer at the same time.
These are definitely not the kind of Volvos your father used to drive, but something tells me deep down he’d approve. – Chris Wee.
Volvo S90 & V90 Photo Gallery…