Why Your Car Sucks/Rocks: Volvo
Oh Volvo, you really are the college professor of the automotive world. You drop amazing prose in the form of gnarly turbocharged engines and slick AWD setups, but you wear cardigans with elbow patches, like the beige mess that you are. It is hard to imagine a carmaker simultaneously kicking ass in some departments, while dropping the ball in others. Does the bad outweigh the good for the Scandinavian sleds of Volvo? Read on to find out? Why Your Car Rocks: The automotive world will always have a soft spot for the Swedes. From ice racing to rally dominance, there’s something in the snow up there in them woods. Decades upon decades of batshit-crazy rally drivers have taken to the Scandinavian woods in the name of being the best at mastering counter-steer on a snow-driven trail. And where some brands don’t realize the epic following that they can tap into, Volvo seems to be quite on top of mastering its relations with the grassroots and motorsport world. Just look at the health marriage it has with tuner Polestar. The crazy tuner of all things Swedish has been embraced by Volvo in an attempt to make it the next AMG.
You know how cool Volvo is in its homeland? A freaking Swedish prince races for the Volvo in the Swedish Touring Car Championship. He is a member of (you guessed it) the Volvo Polestar racing team. The guy has raced for Porsche and has a supermodel girlfriend, and he also races Volvos. That’s a ‘plus’ in our book.
Oh yeah, and Volvo is responsible for one of the most beautiful cars of all time. Produced from 1961 to 1973, the P1800 features all of the proportions and curves that make a car a classic. Of the several iterations of the 1800, the ES (short for Estate) was by far this author’s favorite. The shooting brake design featured a glass hatch and fold down rear seat that inspired the modern Volvo C30. Though the C30 is a fun little hot hatch, it will never have the panache and je ne sais quos of the P1800ES. Few things in this world do.
Why Your Car Sucks:
Smaller volume car brands like Volvo have the benefit of being nimble and responsive to its fans. That is the plus side. The down side is that you do not have the resources to be responsive to mass-market trends. It is a sad state, but Toyota can respond quicker to the entry of new technologies than niche brands. Consider how outdated and clunky the navigation screen is from the Volvo C30. Look at it! It actually requires a remote control to operate? How is that helpful? The short answer is that it is not.
Volvo has been well known as the leader in safety features, but we may have reached a point in the evolution of the automobile called “peak safety,” where the cars have been made safe enough, but new technologies are being added to the mix that allow drivers to pay less attention- making them more unsafe as drivers! The inclusion of pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and features that can probably even tell when you are having unclean thoughts about your friend’s wife…they all make us weaker as drivers and as people. Thanks Volvo, you have contributed to the slow numbing of senses that took eons to sharpen. That’s devolution, people.
Oh and speaking of devolution, how about what they did with the Polestar editions of their cars? When Polestar first got their rally-hewed mitts on the S60 and C30, they produced an unholy amount of power, but apparently Volvo thought that the college professors that purchased most Volvos could not handle all of that juice, so they neutered the C30 and S60. It was an incredible letdown and spoke to the incredible dichotomy between performance cars and bland that Volvo customers prioritize. Perhaps that is more of a referendum on an identity crisis that Volvo has been experiencing for the last decade or so. So much malaise and so much madness of performance all under one roof is endemic of such an identity crisis. We just hope Volvo figures out what they are all about before they end up the way of their Scandinavian brother, Saab.