Driving the feeling
Whatever the journey, whatever the conditions and whatever your mood, the new Volvo V60 will inspire and delight, explains chassis expert, Kenneth Ekström.
“When it comes to driving the new Volvo V60, our aim was to create a character that inspires confidence – one which allows you to enjoy every moment behind the wheel,” says Kenneth Ekström, attribute leader, vehicle dynamics at Volvo Cars.
“This is a car for people with busy, active lives,” explains Kenneth who, along with his team, is responsible for developing and fine-tuning the chassis of the new Volvo V60. “They love to go out and do things, to discover new places and pursue their passions. To help them do that this car needs to be able to adapt to different needs.”
This means the new V60 must be enjoyable to drive and comfortable, however long the journey and whatever the conditions, Kenneth says. “It needs to always be the right car for what you’re doing – a partner on your journey,” he adds.
“You can measure how a car will drive using data,” Kenneth says. “But in the end, what it really comes down to is ‘feeling’. And it was very important to us that you should feel in tune with your car. We want people to be engaged and inspired when they drive the new V60. We wanted it to feel alive.
“There’s so much detail that goes into developing a car’s driving character,” reveals Kenneth, “but we know that it’s entirely worth it. You really feel it when you’re driving this car. Our guiding principle was to develop a car where you will enjoy every drive.”
For 60 years, Volvo Cars has been making estate cars that have enabled people to do more, see more and experience more. The new V60 is the latest in this long family tradition, Kenneth says, combining all the positive qualities associated with the Volvo brand with a contemporary, dynamic edge. “It’s an inspiring drive on every occasion,” he says. “And, like every Volvo car, it feels solid on the road. You feel in command and connected with it. This inspires confidence.”
Ensuring that the new V60 provides the dynamism and driving pleasure you expect from a Volvo was made easier by the car’s underlying structure, Kenneth says. It’s based on the same platform as Volvo Cars’ larger S90, V90 and XC90 models, he explains, and it uses cutting-edge technology throughout. The front suspension is a sophisticated double wishbone layout, for example, while the rear features Volvo Cars’ innovative ‘integral link’ set-up. Ride comfort was as much a priority as making the car fun to drive, he adds: “This car is a pleasure to drive yet it’s comfortable, so you can travel long distances and still feel fresh at the end of the journey.”
“It’s an inspiring drive on every occasion. Like every Volvo, it feels solid on the road. You feel in command and connected with it.”
Refining the way a car feels means a lot of testing. Across tens of thousands of miles, over thousands of hours and on a huge variety of surfaces, countless settings were tried before the right balance was found. “We tested the cars at high speeds and low speeds and on every type of road,” Kenneth reveals. “And we take our cars to the extreme – from the heat of the desert, to the chill of the Arctic.”
Advanced computer simulation is also used in the testing process, and Kenneth acknowledges how important this innovative technology has become: “It allows us to do a lot of development work before the car is even built,” he says.
So, will this technology ever replace roles such as his? “No, not yet,” says Kenneth with a smile. “There’s no substitute for real people on real roads. The pleasure you experience when you’re enjoying the drive? That’s something only a real person can feel.”