2011 Volvo S60: Pedestrian-Protector, Kill Bob Vol(vo) One?

December 9, 2010

Kill Bob:  Vol(vo) One

Kurt Wallander, (Kenneth Branagh in the BBC's adaptation of Henning Mankell's popular detective fiction), plows through the Swedish slit-illuminated landscape.  His blur-inducing conveyance: a Volvo wagon.  Wallander's rumbled exterior and frayed mind find tranquility inside the sanitary Scandinavian automotive aesthetic.

Volvo's latest S60 blends Nordic organic modernism with feminine curves and a masculine stance.  And if you must rush like Wallander toward the next crime scene, it's endowed with several life-preserving new-fangled gadgets.  They protect you and pedestrians.  Plus, this pumpkin-colored firmly padded front-drive Volvo is sensuous to drive.

Volvo's rep Dan Johnston challenged me find my inner Wallander persona.  He implored me to aim the S60 and blast directly toward Bob, an inflatable doll.   Is this Kill Bill (I mean Bob) Vol (vo) One?  It's not often you're dared to drive recklessly.  Nonetheless, stepping on the throttle and devilishly mowing over an adult-size doll isn't easy.  It's as if you've suddenly switched from Branagh into Malcom McDowell in A Clockwork Orange-fueled morbid fantasy.

This Volvo senses forward objects and calculates whether you'll hit them.  Under ideal conditions, it will slam on the brakes preventing you from killing Bill, Bob, Sally, Dick and Jane.  It works.  However, the flashing Spartus alarm clock-like alert and sudden deceleration proved arresting.  Instead of letting the Volvo stop itself, I intervened.  When I stepped on the Volvo's binders, they clamped effectively.  Then I let go and the six-speed automatic took over.  I "nerfed" Bob.

Camera sees Bob. Alarms go off. Brakes stop car.

Camera sees Bob. Alarms go off. Brakes stop car.

Enlarge Photo
Thus you can override this onboard nanny, prefect for a Wallander pursuit.  Nonetheless, I struck out.  Johnston dutifully instructed, "Do it again."  This time I let the car halt itself.  I hit pay dirt, not Bob.  The alarms and brakes did their thing.  This pretend distracted driver (difficult when you're behind a motorized fire drill) discovered that Volvo's safety system worked as advertised.

You might says yesterday's car of tomorrow has arrived:  this one's technology package adds a radar-based collision warning, adaptive cruise control and lane departure guidance to the camera-based Bob-detection system.

If these were Volvo's only noteworthy automotive advancements, they might not win over drivers who desire that difficult to describe aloof but very connected European experience.  This Volvo manages both.  Its interior says by Poul Henningsen;  the mechanicals augment how Swede it is.

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