The 2016 Volvo XC90 takes over the moment it feels you are out of control on drive. Volvo wants to make all its cars intelligent enough to know what’s gonna happen to prevent accidents.
Yes. It’s nothing but a showing of much serious and noble goal “Vision 2020” of the Swedish car maker which goes that from six years from now, nobody should get killed or gravely injured in a new Volvo. Whether that’s a possible goal or not is something that can be debated, but to anyone who knew ‘automobile’ language would easily say that the word “Volvo” means “Safety”. It is indeed the only brand that is ridiculously obsessed with the safety of both passengers and pedestrians since the time I remember, with safety as an integral idea of every design.
Also this week Volvo announced its new, world’s first full-scale proving ground for future traffic safety solutions – the AstaZero, situated in western Sweden. The testing centre is basically a playground with robots, autobahns, intersections, traffic signals, trespassing, etc. mimicking nearly any conceivable urban and rural driving situation its cars could encounter, to help shape both its passive and active safety systems. That’s amazing isn’t it?
Lets come to the main theme of this story. Volvo has every reason to believe that its newly revealed 2015 XC90 is a car that upholds its Vision 2020. The car is creating buzz in the media with its safety credentials, new goddamn looks and design, and not to forget its Thor’s hammer headlights (when Germans do something fancy, this lone Swedish have its own way to smash!). But before we get into any further, lets make it clear why this new XC90 is a big deal to Volvo.
Two big reasons. #1, the existing XC90 platform (first generation) is a decade old and was badly needing a new platform and investments. When Chinese giant Geely took over the company in 2010, Volvo wasn’t in its heyday, with all rotten eggs platforms. Tough decision of a replacement came after the Chinese ownership only. #2, born was the new self-developed SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform with baggy flexibility to bring in all other large Volvo cars (S60, S80, V60 and XC60) using shared bits and parts, not just the new XC90. There is also a new compact platform on cards to fit smaller Volvos like the V40, C30, etc. By this, the company plans to rework its whole range of cars from scratch to meet its ultimate safety standards by 2020.
Again I’m moving away from the crux. Lets talk about the 2016 model-year XC90. I was flabbergasted by the way, those pictures and details from the Stockholm press release last Tuesday. Wow! The reshaped large grille and the frontal design is fantastic, a 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor (cleaner than a Toyota Prius??), vertical touchscreen centre console, 5-setting air suspensions, and so on. The car looks massive, much larger than the existing one. Maybe a new era of Volvo this car rolls in.
That said, now comes the new definition of safety by the XC90.
#4. Use of Boron Steel – When every others run towards Carbonfibre, Volvo opts for ultra high strength steel which is crash worthy, lighter, durable and cost effective.
#3. Automatic Braking – 2015 XC90’s Auto Brakes prevents you from hitting an oncoming vehicle, pedestrians or cyclists face-to-face, first of its kind in the world.
#2. Rear-collision detection, protective seats, automatic safety belt tensioning in all three rows, radar-based auto brake and auto steer functions, blind spot coverage, countless airbags, etc.
#1. Run off-road Protection
Road departure accidents are very common and there are lane assist and hell lot of driver alerts in the Volvo. If you still get off the road carelessly in this XC90, the new system in place tightens your seat belts, with an energy-absorbing seat for protecting your spine and guides you gently throughout crashing.
#N for Neutral
Volvo’s core value of safety linked to car maker’s responsibility is something the industry will have some catching up to do. Damn right because we are still begging for Airbags and ABS. The 2016 XC90 is a giant leap to the likes of the top-class SUVs like the Range Rover. Goes on sale from February next year in US, India must wait no less than a year to get this Volvo.
Wait wait!, I forgot to point out something. Do you see that the Chinese owner of Volvo, the Geely, is emulating the strategies of the Tata Motors on JLR, of allowing the Swedish brand to evolve in its own way as it would otherwise have. They have made it successful in its operations globally. It’s just an another testimony to the fact that the Asian/ 3rd-world ownerships strikes more than right cords in the western market operations.
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