Volvo… Snowbombing… Volvo… Snowbombing…. No matter how many times I said the combination, it struck me as an antithesis; Volvo is renown for its well built, ‘safe’ motor whereas Snowbombing is the most anticipated music Snow-festival with an average age attendance of 22. Not the most obvious partnership, but I have to say in light of recent events it now all makes sense. Allow me to explain…
Last month Ape to Gentleman were challenged to drive one of Volvo’s latest eco-cars from Mayrhofen (in Austria) to Marlow (UK) on just one tank of fuel. An ambitious feat (to say the least) – an even bigger ask when you factor in the Skiing and explosive festivities of the Snowbombing festival to be experienced prior to this journey.
If you are new to the ‘Snowbombing’ concept, imagine Glastonbury, but on the Alps with your pungent tents replaced with ensuite hotel rooms and rain replaced with 30degree sunshine, not to mention the fresh mountain air. If ever there was a time to utilise the oft misused word ‘Epic’, Snowbombing would be it.
Our ‘Epic’ drive was preceded by arguably the most surreal (yet ironically so real) experience of seeing The Prodigy perform up in the mountains with thousands of people with the stage backdrop being 40ft conifers, and the fuel being a free bar hosted by Eristoff. Just in case that wasn’t enough, this was followed with a ‘cameo’ performance by Fatboy Slim at another spectacular indoor arena. Needless to say, sleep wasn’t top of the agenda, and with just 4hrs sleep under our belts it was time to embark the on our One-Tank Volvo Challenge.
Our vehicle (or ‘Chariot’ as it later became known) was the new Volvo V60 DRIVe model. The DRIVe diesel featured a 1.6-litre diesel engine and environmentally friendly CO2 emissions below 119 g/km. The engine produced a very respectable 115 bhp and 270 Nm of torque, with a six-speed manual gearbox. Top speed? We couldn’t tell you, we were trying to get back in one tank after all, this was a ‘Tortoise vs Hare’ feat – the only way to win the race was slow and steady.
After putting in putting our final destination into the Satellite Navigation (which incidentally rather conveniently has a remote control for the passenger) and seeing the 15hr journey time, the ‘slow and steady’ approach soon became a ‘test the handling[1. In addition to the two standard chassis, all variants of the V60 can be specified with the optional FOUR-C (Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept) active chassis, which has been modified and refined for better control and comfort compared with previous Volvos.] and acceleration’ approach as the scenery and at times World Rally Championship[2. Corner Traction Control is a new feature that uses torque vectoring so the car corners even more smoothly. This technology is a further refinement of the Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system.]-like roads lent themselves to a more aggressive style of driving[3. The dynamic new chassis is backed up by a range of electronic systems that sharpen the sporty driving experience still further. Like the all-new S60, the new V60 is fitted with Advanced Stability Control. With a new roll angle sensor, it is possible to identify any skidding tendency at a very early stage. This means that the anti-skid system can step in earlier and with greater precision. Advanced Stability Control is a great asset in dynamic driving involving considerable lateral forces, which improves handling and rapid avoiding manoeuvres.].
Our first thoughts of doing the entire journey in one sitting was categorically wiped out by the ‘festivities’ at Snowbombing, and so we opted instead to split up the journey with a night in Reims, the Champagne region of France. Purely coincidentally, it was the 800th Anniversary of the Cathedral, so we used this as an excuse to trial out the Urban handling of then V60 and much like the journey prior to that, our ‘Chariot’ handled it with aplomb. One noticeable fact was how much attention we were getting – at least we thought it was us until on leaving the car, the attention was still fixed unabashedly on the car. Not entirely sure how I feel about that, swiftly moving on…
The journey continued en route to Calais, when the dreaded fuel light appears windows open, between 70-80mph for the majority of the way still achieved 652 miles out of the tank, which all things considered is not that far off the 856miles required. That said the One-Tank feat had been accomplished by others on one tank, albeit on the reverse journey to Mayrhofen, most importantly before being ‘Snowbombed’.
That said despite the length of our journey, the V60 was a tireless drive, so much so we both agreed that we could instantly embark on another drive of a similar length. Key features of the car included a handy blind spot sensor which prevents you from switching lanes dangerously by alerting you to traffic lurking in the wings. The car also has an Eco-feature that stops the engine while the car is at a standstill, to preserve fuel and reduce emissions.
So the Ape to Gentleman verdict… Is Volvo and old man’s car, well no – doubters need just glance upon the R-Design vehicle[4. Just like in the standard versions, the chassis in the S60 and V60 R-Design is backed up by a range of electronic systems that sharpen the sporty driving experience still further creating an even sharper and more exciting Volvo drive.] to be converted. Reliable, comfortable, sturdy – yes, but also add to that list good looking, a responsive drive and technologically advanced and you get – Fun. The Volvo is fun, but in a responsible way just like Snowbombing… Okay you’ve got me there.
To see photos from Volvo Snowbombing 2011 and Volvo Challenge view our album here.