The New Volvo XC60

(For my initial reaction to the new XC60 advertising campaign, see this post.)

So after initially making fun of (and organising people to complain about) the new Volvo advertising campaign, I figured I still owed them the chance to wow me. After all, I came away from the SCC presentation with high hopes for Volvo's future, and it still makes me smile every time I see an older Volvo on the streets. I miss my little Pixel!

As the new XC60 is currently touring the country, I went ahead and registered for the presentation date in Scottsdale. I received the following:

Please note the time specified in that email. It will be amusing later in the story. At the time, I happily added the date to my calendar, noted that we would have to go right at the beginning so that I could head off to work that night, and forgot all about it.

Monday night, the boys and I piled into both cars (so that I could head straight to work after the fact) and headed up to Scottsdale. Although the buffet table was still full, we were apparently somehow hitting the end of the event, which had been changed to start at 3:30 instead. It was 5:30 when we signed in, but the airhead manning the table managed to pull up my reservation without even blinking at my wayward-volvo email address. Hmm.

Markus, being Markus, had fun playing with the demonstrations and models that were part of the tour. He loaded up a plate full of goodies and we went off to see the actual car.

Now, given that the most touted feature of the new car is the fact that it will stop by itself if it senses an impending collision (a feature that was revealed to be most effective at nine miles per hour, and stops working altogether above nineteen miles per hour), we'd been teasing Markus about it being the perfect car for him to test drive. Mind you, after all his experience with golf carts, mules, and mini fire engines on the playa last year, he's probably actually a better driver than half of Scottsdale... sadly, they refused to let anyone under 21 years of age even be a passenger!

Fred took the first drive. He had a good time chatting with the one Swedish member of the tour - mostly making fun of the "from Sweden with leaves" campaign and the fact that in the brochures they were handing out they managed to misspell the Swedish word for Welcome on the front. Not a well thought out, researched, or put together ad campaign. As the car rolled toward Markus and I, we were a little startled to hear it grind to a sudden, jerky stop.

Then it was my turn. First up - the dashboard and passenger compartments of newer Volvos have consistently failed to impress me. This was no exception - it was luxurious, but clasutrophobic. Amusingly, the spedometer was labelled only in kilometers. Off I rolled... as with my EVOC training, the first time I actually hit the brake before the car could stop itself. I'm just not used to trying to crash into something! Part of the problem was that the instructions I was given included the fact that, while the car would sense an impending collision and stop itself, it would only stay stopped for a second and a half before rolling forward, requiring me to react and use the brake. I was given a second chance.

My mother should never be allowed in one of these cars. Yes, the little Volvo that can stop itself managed to not hit the rubber dividers... but the jerk when it stops itself is jarring enough to cause a whiplash injury of its own! And look just how close it lets the front bumper get - we stopped maybe an inch from a dent. (I'm particularly amused by this picture, by the way, specifically the fact that the dealership display appears to be a Volvo crash in progress...)

OK, I just wasn't impressed. Far more interesting to me was the little video display in the dashboard which showed the view behind the car. Backup cameras (which, incidentally, Volvo included on the SCC all those years ago but has yet to actually release in production) are a useful idea that other companies have stolen and run with, and given my normal problems with parallel parking, I quite liked the feature.

Oh, and the funny part about the email that I mentioned? After I drove away, I realised the following was sitting in my in-box - the email correcting the start time of the event. You'll notice that it was actually sent at the time we checked in - two hours after it would have been at all useful.

For the most part, though, I was just insulted by the campaign, by the new Volvo design, and by the lack of enthusiasm everyone concerned has shown. Maybe that's Scottsdale, rather than Volvo... but the news that Volvo most likely will not release a hybrid model until 2013 just brought home the fact that Volvo by Ford is not the company I fell in love with.

Drive Safely!