This article was originally published in Issue 9 of EuroBerge and has been converted into a post on the site for your enjoyment. It was originally published on October 15th, 2010.
Volvo has been on a restyling roll as of late. This is not just referring to the restyling of older models, but more of a restructured image of the company itself. It seems that more and more it is moving away from the safety-conscience designs and advertising plans that once held the company strong, and is headed down the road to something a more aggressive. Yes, they have always made amazing subdued vehicles, come of which still command a pretty penny today, but it is the new vehicles that are really defining the roll that Volvo will play in the coming years as a reborn auto manufacturer.
Enter the all-new designed Volvo S60, with a turbocharged 3.0-liter engine, making an estimated 300 hp and 325 ft-lb of torque. The chassis and suspension has been intended to provide more of a true driver’s feel, very different from the characteristics of vehicles past. The interior is keeping with similar designs from the XC60 and C30, where functionality and an art-deco styling clash into an elegant instrument cluster and seating arrangement. All the gauges and knobs are clearly marked and defined, within easy reach, and the audio/video system in the back seats look cleanly molded into the headrests. Everything inside the car was designed with comfort in mind, and as usual, Volvo hit the nail right on the head.
The front and rear seats are comfortable and spacious, and could hold onto the passenger firmly, even with enough room in the back seat for my 6ft-2in frame to fit comfortably. All four seats had a good amount of support, building more on the image that this car will be able to take corners with some gusto. And it can happily be reported that gone is the plasticy feel of many Volvos past, specifically first being part of Ford, and in is a new soft feel dash, soft, comfortable leather, and fitting elegance. Sadly though, this was all only checked out in the parked position as the opportunity to drive the new car did not present itself.
Now, this is an impressive vehicle on paper, as it has all the creature comforts man y buyers would look for in a new car, as well as the power and handling characteristics that would make it a great driving vehicle, especially on the mountain roads. This car’s exterior is an excellent interpretation of the classic Volvo lines, and also keeps with the total sleeper image that has been so prevalent in many cars past. This car fits in well with the new market of luxury European sedans, easily being compared to the new Audi A4 and BMW 3-series in terms of comfort, luxury, and performance.
Here is where hesitation kicks in. This car looks like a normal luxury sedan, with tons of features and a sense of elegance about it. The car is not bland, but also does not stand out enough for someone who does not know what it is to know about its performance, and yet Volvo has been advertising it as the ‘Naughty Volvo’. What is so naughty about this car, other than the bright orange color? It has the performance and grace that many buyers have come to expect, on top of keeping with tradition of safety over performance (but not much over). This new S60 fit’s perfect within the tradition of Volvos past, so why have they attempted to break the façade than many drivers enjoyed when they drove this car? To market a vehicle as a sleeper, saying it is naughty and such; does that not defeat the purpose? Now you pull up and someone already knows what used to be a ‘cool trade secret’, and honestly, there is no fun in that, no matter how awesome the car is.
Let’s be honest. This is one amazing vehicle, but to base the full marketing plan on showing the world it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing is like seeing the beautiful librarian from your college at the dance club the same night. It takes away a bit of the mystery, and there is no fun in that.