Let me start off by saying, i'm a huge Volvo fan. In fact, I actually own and drive one daily, a 2007 Volvo XC70 LE. Oh yes sounds exciting doesn't it? (said probably nobody ever). More towards the late 90's and most of the 2000's, we have to face the facts, they were one of the most boring car manufacturers out there. Although, it's a new era, and Volvo have come back to take their share against the Germans.
I'll tell you a story, the year is 2007, and my father goes out and buys a brand new Volvo XC70 station wagon. This is the highest specification Lifestyle Edition model. This does not ease my disappointment however, in fact I thought he may have been writing his will the same day. Keep in mind being eight years old, and playing Forza Motorsport 2 on my Xbox, I was still in the mindset of the Bugatti Veyron being the greatest car in the world because it was the fastest. The only positive thing I took away from the whole experience was the seats were comfy... oh boy how things changed.
Fast forward to 2016, I had just started learning to drive. What's the first car I hop into the driver's seat of you wonder? You guessed it, the almighty Volvo. Once I'd calmed my nerves from potentially killing everybody on the road with my big Swedish tank, I realised something. It was smooth, the 5 cylinder engine they used was (and still is) a good mix of performance and reliability, the wood-grain steering wheel felt good in my hands, the sound system is still one of the greatest I've heard today. It's just a good car, and I gladly accepted it as a hand-me-down gift late last year.
So, why did they get such a bad rep?
Here is just a few examples: The body-lines were reminiscent of a shoe box, even in the later years. I mean there were some absolutely ugly models, do you remember the 2002 Volvo S80? No wonder people quickly sought refuge in the German corner. Every person you saw driving one was definitely a supporter of the green party and was the type to argue at a family dinner about using bamboo utensils or some nonsense (although this made no sense as Volvo's aren't known for their fuel economy). The main reason, they were just a stereotypical dad's car - hell, even sometimes I feel like i'm driving my non-existent children to soccer practice.
Saying that however, there were some lovely looking cars which I believe are underrated still to this day. Take the 1961-1973 Volvo P1800, featured on the TV-series 'The Saint' driven by the late Sir Roger Moore. Get this, the show was a spy thriller. Not very Volvo like? But definitely deserved the part with it's villainous lines and sleek spy body shape. Yes, i'm still talking about the car here. Moore even went on to be the owner of his own 1967 Volvo P1800 S. A proper gentleman's car.
Other vehicles such as the astonishingly quick wagon 1996 850R and Polestar variants of late 21st century Volvo S60's are very notable in the 'exciting cars category' for the car company.
The new era of Volvo cars is here, and it's definitely making a mark.
After the acquisition by Geely, Volvo completely rethought their model lineup, and have started releasing more dynamic and uplifting cars for the new generation. In 2015, Volvo reported selling more than half a million cars for the first time in the company's 89-year history. Quite an achievement coming back from the downturn in the last 10 years. Ten years ago in Australia, it'd be hard to spot a Volvo on your daily commute, now, it's almost a routine to see multiple.
In 2017, Volvo announced that in 2019 all of the models in their line-up will include an electric motor in their drive-train, stepping in to the direction of uprising electric vehicles which has proven success for other manufacturers. It is also said that their all of their vehicles will be either hybrid or all-electric between 2019-2021.
Polestar, Volvo's performance subsidiary company, is releasing enhanced Volvos for the more sporty driver. The most notable one I have seen is named the Polestar 1. A two door, hybrid which includes a 2.0L Inline 4 supercharged / turbocharged engine, 2 electric motors plus one Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) producing a combined figure of 600HP (447 kW to all of my Aussie mates) and 738 lb.ft (1000N.m) of torque. The car also looks amazing, with broad body-lines and angular lights. Not as beautiful as a P1800, but a step in the right direction for their designers.
I'm not telling you to completely change your mind about the brand, but next time you see somebody pull up at the lights in their brand new Volvo, take a good look at how far they've come, and maybe you too will have a revelation like I did a couple of years ago.
This is my first ever article I've written, and the dreams of a car media journalist are definitely in my sights. Any advice, comments, criticism is greatly appreciated. Cheers from an aspiring nineteen year old from Australia, with the same love of cars as everybody else.