Love Volvo’s Swedish build: V40 first drive
Volvo’s fairytale history has been told once in this corner of your favorite paper. The story, which began in the 1920s in marble-corridored “Castle Volvo” atop a rocky, rainy outcrop outside Gothenburg in Sweden, continues to this day, re-told in one form or another in every piece of engineering marvel rolling anywhere in the streets of the globe.
And it’s also a story that many proud Volvo owners love hearing (or seeing) again and again, as 95 percent of Volvo owners have bought another. Who doesn’t love fairytale happy endings, as both the car and its romantic leads, the prince and the princess, emerge safely in one piece, and with hearts still beating for each other ever after?
But don’t get the mistaken notion that Volvo is getting too mushy. In fact, the iron symbol badge is sturdier, and more iron-clad, in its brand representation of quality and safety. The romantic prince, and princess, do wield swords of serious Swedish steel. The Volvo vehicle, like love, has been built to endure the test of time and man. Since 1927, “Castle Volvo” made sure that its creations would withstand Sweden’s harsh winters and poor road surfaces.
Now comes the 2015 Volvo V40 Cross Country D4, brand-spanking new and offered by Volvo Philippines. The V40 was among the automaker’s best-selling models in 2014. Introduced in late 2013, the V40 compact crossover competes with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLA, BMW X1 and Audi Q3, and draws in young, successful, outstanding professionals and business owners who are adventurous and creative.
Trying her hand at a raw-copper-colored Volvo that’s worth over P2.7 million, she lists down all that she likes about the car. Some items, though, just deserve an exclamation point.
1) Chic, smart, but rugged look. Volvo has divorced itself from the boring old, boxy look, and at the right time as the next generation of would-be Volvo owners begin to take notice of those sexy curves and bulges. The wheels are an assertive 17-inches, the front features a mysteriously dark bumper contrasting with the body color, the honeycomb mesh grille and upright DRL-lights, the contrasting rear bumper with integrated skid plate completes the look.
2) Energy conscious with auto start/stop technology. Not to be outdone in the fuel efficiency department, the V40 offers its own fuel-saving auto start/stop system, which turns off the diesel engine during idling, and immediately springs back to life when the brake pedal is released.
3) Powerful acceleration, yet energy efficient. The V40 this writer drove was powered by a 2-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged diesel D4 engine packing 190 horsepower and 400 Newton-meters of torque. Despite the brute strength, the V40 managed to sip just enough fuel to register fuel mileage readouts of between 25 and 30 kilometers per liter on highway drives (at one stretch even showing a truly impressive 39 kpl. This level of fuel efficiency may be due largely to Volvo’s groundbreaking i-Art technology (with pressure feedback from each fuel injector instead of the traditional single pressure sensor in the common rail).
4) Feature-packed interior. Despite the presence of so many buttons, knobs and controls, the driver would find it easy to make his or her way through all these bits of driving information. The cruise controls are intuitive, the digital displays adaptive.
5) Sweet seats. The seats are ergonomically designed, comfortable, and assuring. The numerous configurations guarantee that you’ll find the setting fits your body “to a V,” hugging you like there were no more Valentine’s Day next year. Volvo truly loves its drivers—and passengers. In the early 1960s, a group of Volvo car designers consulted with a team of orthopedic surgeons at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg for the design of its car seats. Nobody had thought of that before. The result: long-distance travelers have been coming out of the Volvo all smiles, the term “back-breaking drive” stricken from their lingo for good. For good measure, the two-piece, 40:60 rear seat backrest can be easily folded for owners who like to bring gear to their outdoor adventures.
6) Sensus infotainment system. This onboard operating system allows one to explore high-tech features and personalize them.
7) Adaptive digital display. This offers three setups—elegance, eco and performance—allowing the driver to match his or her mood to the way he or she receives onboard information.
8) Bluetooth hands-free system. Safety being Volvo’s surname, V40 makes hands-free calls truly driver-friendly.
9) It’ll stop even if you don’t. The V40’s City Safety-Active feature, which is effective at up to speeds of 50 km per hour, enables the vehicle to automatically brake if the driver fails to react in time when the vehicle in front slows down or stops, or if the car is approaching a stationary vehicle too fast.
10) Park Assist Pilot. At the press of a button, Park Assist Pilot scans the parking slot using ultrasonic sensor technology, and the vehicle will park itself.
11) Active High Beam. This helps the driver use high beams more efficiently. Offering automatic switching between high and low beams just at the right moment. And that’s good not just for the V40 driver, but for the eyes and tempers of drivers of oncoming vehicles, as well.