Technology

Sounds of the city

Music is the heartbeat of urban culture, as we experience on a tour around Oslo in the Volvo XC40. This is a car built to help you make the most of your music.

WORDS: LEO WILKINSON | PHOTOGRAPHY: SAM CHRISTMAS

Defying classification: part café, part bar, part cycle store, Oslovelo is the sum of many parts

Music central

On the corner of Toftes gate and Seilduksgata in Oslo’s hip Grünerløkka district lies Oslovelo, a place that neatly encapsulates contemporary urban culture in all its genre-defying glory. Part cycle store, part workshop and part café/bar, it also plays host to DJ nights. Oslovelo was founded by a group of friends who decided that they wanted to be their own bosses and, you can’t but help think, have somewhere fun to hang out.

We arrive at Oslovelo in the Volvo XC40, where we meet Steffen Skau Linnert, bar manager and one of its five co-founders. Steffen is also the drummer in a successful punk band, so it’s no surprise when he says that music is very much part of what makes Oslovelo what it is. “We had a vision of how we wanted this place to be and music is central to that,” he says. “It really sets the mood – it’s like a colour that you can’t see.” As well as helping to organise music nights and DJs at Oslovelo, Steffen also creates the venue’s Spotify and Tidal playlists, to make sure that the music is on point. Soul, funk, jazz, disco and hip-hop are all in the mix, says Steffen, and the volume has to be just right. “We keep it mellow – we still want people to be able to sit and talk… although it does get a bit louder at the weekend!”

A revolution in sound

Two of the world’s biggest subscription-based music streaming services, Spotify and Tidal, started up in Sweden and Norway respectively. It highlights just how important music is to contemporary Scandinavian culture and the extent to which these two countries lead innovation. So it’s fitting that our trip to Oslovelo was in the Volvo XC40 – a car bursting with Scandinavian creativity and innovation, and which is designed to help whoever’s in it enjoy their music to the full.

Steffen has a look at the XC40 and is impressed not only by the clarity of sound in the car, but also how cleverly it’s packaged. Every XC40 has an innovative type of speaker called an air-ventilated woofer, mounted behind the dashboard. It’s the first of its kind, and replaces the need for speakers on the doors – freeing up storage space and contributing to a great sound experience.

The top-of-the-range audio system for the XC40 is Harman Kardon Premium Sound, a collaboration with the renowned audio brand. Innovations for this 13-speaker system include Automatic Level Adjustment, which adjusts differences in volume or sound intensity between different recordings and sources to create a seamless listening experience. It also has a Vehicle Noise Compensation function that adjusts the sound to counteract any road noise inside the car. Like every new Volvo car, the XC40 is also available with a native Spotify app that’s built into the car, so you don’t need to plug your phone in to use it. Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make it easy to access the music stored on your phone using the large centre touch screen, or even your phone’s voice control function.

Rear shot of a Volvo XC40 on a street in Oslo

Subscribe to experience

In the same way that subscription services have revolutionised the way we consume and enjoy music, so the XC40 is helping to change the way we experience our cars. It’s the first car available through Care by Volvo – a subscription service that lets you pay for access to a new Volvo car using a fixed monthly fee. This is an entirely new way of accessing a car – an alternative to owning or leasing your XC40. It covers everything you need to run the car, including insurance, tax, maintenance and servicing, so all you need to pay for is fuel. It makes running a car as easy as owning a phone, and it means that you don’t need to think about all the usual time-consuming aspects of car ownership.

You can also add bolt-on extras, such as a concierge service that can send directions to your car’s navigation or book a restaurant at your destination. You even have the option of using local vehicle-sharing services so that you can gain access to a larger or smaller Volvo car to drive for short periods. With innovations to help you enjoy music and a new way to experience car ownership, the XC40 is a car that’s perfectly in tune with the times.