Take a look at the new Volvo S60 heading for Indian shores. It's touted to be the sportiest Volvo ever, but does it spell success in the Indian market?
Volvo is a brand associated with safety to the extent that the company has been at the pioneering end of many a safety feature. It's an old statement but it still is apt and that is that there is a little bit of Volvo in every car. However, with changing times, building a brand on a single pedestal had to change. Competition hasn't been easy and there was no doubt in the fact that an element of excitement needed to be incorporated to the Volvo brand. As Volvo itself put it, it was time to get naughty! Enter the Volvo S60, a sedan that is everything Volvo stands for, but with a naughty twist!
Touted as Scandinavian design, which can best be translated to subtle classic lines enhanced with a twist of taunt sporty lines to offer just the right mix of attitude with the end result being a very good looking car. It has the ability to stand out amongst its peers and the fine lines are further enhanced by neat little touches. Probably the most noticeable such touch is the little lights on the snout. The bonnet flows muscularly down towards the front grill and on the fold are these neat lights that just look, well, for a better word-sexy. The front end is purposeful and unlike Volvo cars till now, the head on look is young and youthful, yet reminiscent of the Volvo family DNA. From the side, the S60s clean lines flow seamlessly from the front to the sporty rear and clearly brings out a rather sporty stance. In fact Volvo claims that the S60 is their most sporty sedan design ever! The taunt rear and those signature Volvo rear lights work well to complete the exterior package and present a car that can hold its own against the competition, namely the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class. If design was a measure on how cars rank, then the S60 has managed to play catch-up in the market. Volvo has not been known for their design ability, but clearly that notion is set to change thanks to the striking S60.
Stepping inside the Volvo S60 is a pleasant experience. A plush interior with great fit and finish is what greets you and immediately you feel the amount of effort that has gone in to make this car stand up against the rest. The top spec models get neat leather just about everywhere and the neatness of how every item is fitted does stand out. I highly doubt that anyone will complain about the interiors or features of the S60. Adding to this is the amount of space. The S60 distinctly pipes the competition on interior space, which is a good thing considering how many Indian owners prefer to travel in the back seat of their luxury cars, be it an entry level luxury sedan. Though India, might not have governed this aspect, Volvo still comes out on top for having nurtured this thought from the design stages itself.
For India, Volvo will offer the S60 with two engine options, namely a petrol tarmac scorcher in the form of a turbocharged inline 6 cylinder motor that churns out 304 bhp@ 5600 rpm and makes a class leading torque of 440Nm between 2100-4200 rpm, and a diesel drinking 5 cylinder engine that offers 205bhp@ 4000 rpm and 420Nm of torque between 1500-3250 rpm. Though internationally the S60 has numerous engine options, Volvo is literally bringing in the two most powerful engines in class to our shores. All this power translates to an enthusiastic motoring experience. Fun, agile and dynamic may not be common descriptive of cars from this marquee; however with the S60, Volvo has managed to do it and that too with style. No doubt the S60 is a joy to drive and Volvo has worked hard to ensure that the chassis and systems conform to the entire spicy drive feel. All wheel drive, a neatly set up suspension that doesn't allow for too much roll, yet isn't rigid to mess up ride quality, a decent steering feedback and a car that goes in the direction you point it in just makes for brilliant motoring. With all these changes however, Volvo hasn't forgotten its true roots-safety.
The S60 also boasts of being a rather safe place to be inside. Apart from the numerous gizmos and gadgets that are now almost standard fitments in all Volvos, the S60 boasts of an advanced pedestrian recognition system. This state of the art safety feature is a boon for city drivers especially for it really works at speeds a shade under 40 kmph. A number of cameras allow the car to 'see' an obstacle in its path, and should the driver not react, the car will automatically bring the vehicle to a halt before hitting the obstacle. It's not the smoothest braking, but it does get the job done and should also
wake the driver up!
So, at the end of the day, what you get is a car that is safe, fun, dynamic, stylish and as informed by Volvo, it is also cheaper than the competition. All this makes you wonder as to what the catch is right? Well, that is where the naughty grin appears on the Volvo salesman as he tells you that there is no catch!
Having said that, there is a small catch and that is from the company's end in terms of brand value. Volvo India has been treading the Indian waters with caution. Unlike Audi or BMW that just went ahead at an aggressive speed, or Mercedes-Benz, which enjoyed a decade of no competition, Volvo's foray into the market can best be described as one little step at a time. Though this will finally pay off in terms of having a strong and deep rooted understanding of the Indian market, it has delayed the propagation of the brand name and this is where the challenge lies. Volvo India has a great product coming in the form of the S60, it is now time to get the marketing and brand building in place to ensure that the S60 doesn't remain in the dark corners of the market, but gets its due share of the limelight. The time is now, for these efforts will pave the way for future launches.