Swedish car manufacturer Volvo is on the warpath and their weaponry includes a range of impressive cars that are turning heads and winning awards around the world. We recently drove three new models.
Volvo’s new vehicles are turning heads and winning awards. We test three new models.
Along time ago, I touched down at the airport in Kiruna, the northernmost town in Sweden, in the middle of winter. Kiruna is about 150 km into the Arctic Circle; the pilot casually announced that the ground temperature was -30° C. I don’t know if it’s possible for a puffer jacket to melt in the cold, but that’s what happened to mine when the stewardess opened the cabin door. My jacket was like a second-tier club rugby flyhalf suddenly transported to the House of Pain in Dunedin to face off against the All Blacks. “Don’t let me stand in your way, Mr Lomu,” it seemed to say. “I’m way out of my depth.” A giant Swede met us in the tiny arrivals hall. He looked how I imagined Björn Lothbrok, son of Ragnar, the legendary ninthcentury Viking warlord, might have looked: blue eyes, blonde hair, goatee, massive knife in a scabbard hanging from his belt… Björn was our guide and his job was to make sure we made it to our wilderness camp alive on our snowmobiles that night. He looked at the group of shivering South Africans and praised us for bringing our warmest clothes. “I’m sure your clothing is perfectly adequate back home in Africa,” he said. “But now you are in Lapland. Here you will die in those clothes. In Sweden, there is no bad weather, just bad clothes.” He laughed uproariously at his own joke. Mercifully, we were each issued with the right clothing and we survived the night. Kiruna is a place where iron ore has been dug from the earth for more than a century, and the resultant steel is used to produce Volvo’s range of vehicles. Look closely at the Volvo emblem: It’s the old alchemy symbol for iron. However, the mine has become so deep that it’s threatening the town. To fix the problem, the Swedes are moving the entire place, building by building, to a new site 3 km to the east. It’s a project that started four years ago and will be finished sometime around 2100. Yes, Sweden and its people don’t flinch in the face of a challenge, and they plan very far into the future. The same goes for the new generation of Volvos that was launched this year. Cars like the V60 Cross Country, the XC40 and the XC60. The XC60, a mediumsized SUV, is the top-selling Volvo and was recently crowned 2018 World Car of the Year. The funky XC40 is a smaller SUV that turns heads wherever it parks. It’s going to be another winner in the Volvo stable. The V60 Cross Country is a more traditional family estate car, the kind of vehicle that Volvo has
pretty much perfected over the years. Like most car manufacturers these days, the three vehicles share technology, transmissions, engines, 4x4 systems and chassis design. What sets Volvo apart from its competitors are not only things like excellent fuel efficiency and a buttery ride, but the feeling that you’ve stepped into the future. The clean Scandinavian design on the outside, the luxurious and modern inside and the technology under that steel skin are vastly impressive. Volvo calls it “Pilot Assist” and “City Safety” – camera and radar technology that helps you to avoid other cars, pedestrians, cyclists and animals. I activated these systems in rush hour traffic in the XC60 and the car practically drove itself all the way into Cape Town. It kept a safe following distance, accelerating and braking when it needed to. The steering wheel gently nudged me back into my lane when it sensed that I was drifting. In an emergency, this tech will save you thousands of rands, and possibly your life, by braking on your behalf. More than a thousand years ago, the Vikings – people like Ragnar, his warrior wife Lagertha and their son Björn – ran riot in Britain, France and other nations. Maybe that era has dawned again…
VOLVO XC40 D4 VOLVO XC60 D5 V60 CROSS COUNTRY D4