Volvo – Driving Fun in the Sun, European upgrades for American Tastes

Basking in the early morning sun, on what seemed to be an ordinary Saturday, I took a local jaunt to the plush and chic Monteluccia Resort and Spa nestled in the nape of the Camelback Mountain range. My drive into the north valley of Phoenix and center of styling and luxury to meet with the folks of Volvo to drive their newest spawns of vehicular conception. Volvo is a brand synonymous with safety innovation. The history of Volvo was forged between two gentlemen looking to build a vehicle more befitting for the harsh Scandinavian weather and landscape, which speaks volumes to this Arizona native, where harsh climates encompass our entire surrounding. Innovative for their time, Volvo built a vehicle born to withstand rough roads, harsh winters, and using the highest grade, quality steel in the construction of the frame and body.

Today, Volvo is using what is called “High Strain Steel” (North Holbrook, Volvo Media Event, 2012), which is considered the strongest and lightest steel in the industry for both performance and safety. Hence, their safety crumple zones that have inspired other car makers around the world to make such dramatic improvements to their steel cages to reproduce a vehicle with these innovative upgrades. What I found is that Volvo makes cars for people, people are who drive their vehicles, so why not listen to what people have to say about their vehicles. “Thinking of you first,” were the words spoken by North Holbrook, Western Regional Vice President for Volvo as he doled out charismatic and juicy details about Volvo’s rich history in safety and innovation. He further added that the input of current, former, and prospective Volvo owners shape and mold the styling, sport, and luxury of the safest car on the road. Additionally, Volvo has an entire site dedicated to how Volvo’s safety has transcended time and individual lives as everyday owners share compelling stories of how their lives were saved and changed by Volvo.

But enough of the history lesson let’s get to the prime rib and Au gratin of what the Saturday morning with Volvo was really all about.


Lots of driving and “fun in the sun” as the Volvo crew called it. Shipping in some of the best in fleet for us to drive around the scenic, hectic, and entertaining terrain of the North Scottsdale area of metropolitan Phoenix. This fleet, delivered right off the boat from Sweden to New Jersey and then sent via transport to Scottsdale included the famed C30 coupe, C70 coupe convertible, the S series saloons and XC60 which is a crossover vehicle that can handle the job of an SUV but the styling and luxury of an executive saloon.

C70 Coupe Convertible

I had my heart set for the XC series to test out for some off-road handling (bringing out my inner youth of dirt bikes, 4-wheelers, and off-road 4X4 driving) yet speaking to the responsible parent, in need of an automobile as people mover, with comfort and spaciousness for those trips to Costco. Instead, however, I opted for the C70 convertible as I was enjoying my Saturday morning sans kids. My alter ego, or original self, called loudly as I was presented with the FINAL C70 convertible in the corral of the select Volvo fleet. Though I was leaning to the C30 to have some manual transmission, autoeroticism, pardon the pun, as I shifted through the gears and get a real feel for the Polestar tuning that comes as an upgrade to the Volvo fleet. The C70 could not be resisted in the moderate Arizona spring weather. The C70, also equipped with Polestar, was something to fondle in regard to handling and sport. Polestar is only known for those who may be an astronomer (just Google it) or if you are well versed in the European racing circuit. Polestar has been making high performance racing parts and vehicles in Europe for years and only until just recently has Volvo been able to offer this warrantied and certified (for five factory years as the gents with Polestar boasted) in the US on their line of vehicles. Volvo has been racing sedans and recently added the C30 to the racing family, which was an even more exciting opportunity for me as I pondered heavily upon which vehicle to snuggle with for the day.

C70 Convertible % Volvo Cars US, 2012

Being an Arizona native and not wanting to pass up the rich morning in the sun, and basking in the million dollar weather, I eased in the sexy looking C70 convertible. At first glance this car does not look to be your typical convertible, a two-step, collapsing hard top as I applied one button to motion the top into the spacious boot of this coupe. Silent, and safety again within reach, as I began to drive away, my Volvo began to scream a warning at me. As the Volvo crew ran to my side, I giggled at my doltish behavior as I stopped immediately to acknowledge my convertible top was not completely secure into the boot, hence the screeching of a warning signal. Applying the brake, holding the button down, the dash confirmed with a simple “ding” that the job was  at last complete and I was safe to continue on my drive.

% Monteluccia Resort & Spa, 2012

Easing through the cobble stone parkway of the resort, I pulled out onto Lincoln Drive merging into the ultra exclusive neighborhoods of Paradise Valley. Immersing myself into the luxury of the Volvo I was pleasantly surprised by the elegant feel of the moleskin leather wrapped dash and the affectionately soft, body wrapping seats of this coupe. Getting my driving legs about me and familiarizing myself with my playful options I decided to really see what this Polestar business was all about. I took the car out of the automatic transmission mode and right into a sport shift, jockeying my way through Scottsdale traffic, feeling the turbo-charged 5-cylinder of this coy and misleading Swedish driver. Finding my groove, I found that the rev limiter is rather impressive for this ultra safe coupe, but still yielding an impressive 28mpg highway for those seeking a petrol friendly auto. Needless to say that Volvo puts on a great facade as this beaut was hiding an inner sports vixen waiting to be tested to her limits.

Hugging the road through the desert scene of the McDowell Mountain Range as we made a trek through the urban adventure that Scottsdale, Arizona has to offer, I found that Volvo still had a bit of over-steer when pushed. Definitely a lot of “giddity up and go” as I played with the paddle electronic shift. The C70 had no problems handling and reaching highway speeds, and, when she wanted, felonious speeding, yet still maintaining a level of handling as the over-steer jumped in as what seemed to be Volvo’s safety measures with their vehicles as to not get too aggressive with the Polestar upgrades. However, not too many soccer moms should be pole positioning through traffic when people moving children. Ahem. But I digressed riding solo in this coupe full of styling, fun, sex appeal, and overall safety. Returning to the corral of coupes, saloons, and SUV’s I bid a longing adieu to my morning date.

Energized and literally ready to buy I was truly sold on the Volvo brand. Not knowing anything more about the vehicles history, handling, brand reputation or styling I walked in blind and emerged with foresight of a Volvo coupe in my future as a date night car. Now if I can just convince my better half…let the plotting and mind control begin. (Insert evil, villainous laughter)

Ahem, I digress. I do want to thank Volvo Cars US, their overtly friendly and more than accommodating drive team and staff, the Monteluccia Resort and Spa staff and chef’s providing excellent cuisine, and the Cake Group for an amazing Saturday of fun in the sun with the Volvo team.