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BW Businessworld

Safety First: A Tale Of Two Volvos

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Returning to India with an emphasis on safety, speed and youth, Volvo has been wooing young executives for picking up their sedans — the S80 2.4-litre twin turbo diesel with 182 bhp of power and the S60 T6 2.9-litre petrol with its 325 bhp muscle. The latter is a beast with a heart, while the former is an older man's car. Brand Volvo has been known as a car for the executive with a family who paid for extreme safety. At this juncture, the company is trying to blend safety features with its new DNA of yuppie executive sportiness. The message from the Volvo dealers is that safety comes above all even when driving very fast and you can experience that in a Volvo. That may not be cool enough for young drivers who take safety as a given.

Now, if you are a mature executive and scared to press the pedal, Volvo is the car for you. It is Volvo's plethora of safety features that remind you that you have to get back home rather than show off to the young people out there. In India, Volvo buses are known as luxurious people carriers and are all too common after a decade. So will the cars be known in the same vein? They are luxurious no doubt. Still only time will tell what the brand wants to communicate in India.

Interiors of S60
The brand is reinvesting in 4-cylinder turbo-charged engines for these cars and the sedans in their new avatars will be out in India by next year. Remember the current platforms are at least 3-5 years old. But then, why buy these cars at all?

With eight airbags and the stocky car structure, you are sure not to be hurt. The T6 reaches 0-100 kilometres in 6.2 secs and D5 cracks it in a little over 8 secs. One can do a bend at 210 kilometres per hour and not be shaken if you have the driving expertise. Personally, Businessworld got lucky and the car did not fish-tail. This performance is standard with all executive sedans of this era, especially with these all-wheel-drive vehicles. The Volvos at that cost, Rs 36 lakh for a S60 T6 and Rs 47 lakh for the D5 S80, will make people want to think twice before they sign on a BMW and Audi's entry luxury cars. It is here that they do not disappoint. This is also where one needs to think, is your mind on safety, mobile and machine interface, style or acceleration? In styling and mobility tehnology, the Audis and the BMWs are way ahead at the moment. Acceleration at that level makes every car superior and these two sedans are up there with the best in their class of cars.

Interiors of S80
t is again the safety features that make Volvo superior. The city safety braking system allows you to literally dream when driving at 40-50 kilometres per hour, because it stops automatically before the car crashes on to the pedestrian. Then there is a laser-tracking system that warns of you of collisions when speeding. These features you can depend on and it is much more than just a leap of faith. Now do all these safety features make you feel old? They shouldn't because the IIHS, an industry watchdog that rates cars on highway and city safety, rates Volvos as the safest cars to drive. The ground clearance too is 151mm for the S80 and 130mm for the S60. The ground clearance makes handling of the S60 a bit of a bother here in India, while the S80 compares well to the Audi A6 and is easier to handle in the city. Volvo may not be as cool as a Audi or the BMW but is certainly trying to shun the safety evangelist tag. The T6 S60 petrol and the S80 D5 twin turbo diesel certainly do a good job of it even when the larger brand is going through a balancing act.

S80 2.4-litre twin turbo diesel with 182 bhp of power