Why an orange Volvo works

A few months ago I brought to your attention the league of candy-coloured cars on the road today. From Fiestas to Accents, MINIs to Lotus their bright spots litter the mundane roads around us.

But they can’t all pull it off.

This week, sitting in my driveway is a bright orange 2011 Volvo S60 T6 AWD (just like the photo above, only I don’t get to drive along a winding, tree-lined country road with no snow). And not only is the exterior that crisp, deep burnt orange colour, but so is the leather interior. You open the door and you’re greeted with the same vibrant look, complete with wood accents and a cream-coloured steering wheel to boot. It’s all a bit much.

And yet, it works. And I’ll tell you why it works, oh faithful reader.

While it’s true that not every car can carry such a bright colour (a canary yellow Town & Country just wouldn’t work, trust me), sometimes the bright colour helps to enhance the car, even if the initial reaction is one of repulsion or apprehension.

Volvos are notoriously known as stodgy and a bit boring. Sure, they’re the safest cars around, but they’re not exactly light-a-fire-under-your-ass exciting, now are they? They get the job done, but no one is getting out of a Volvo wiping the drool from their mouths exclaiming what a brilliant and truly mind-blowing ride it is. At least, last I checked that hasn’t happened. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Volvos are fantastic cars. I love the C30 and the XC60 is an amazing family car if you’ve got the cash to drop on one. I think I’d take an XC60 over an X5, actually (shock and awe, I know).

But here’s the thing, they’re not terribly interesting. Sure, Volvos look nice. They’ve got clean lines, nice design cues and they’re uber sophisticated inside. They’re smart, civil and don’t ruffle too many feathers in the design world. They’re safe, even in their looks.

Then I look out to my driveway and I can’t help but smile at the fire-orange S60 parked there. It makes total and complete sense to have a Volvo in this colour, especially this particular Volvo.

Unlike BMW or Audi, Volvo doesn’t have a “speedy” lineup any longer. While they used to have the R badge to indicate you might want to take note of the Volvo you’re passing on the road, they no longer have said models in the lineup. Instead, they have the car I’m driving this week.

Labeled as Volvo’s “naughtiest” car, the S60 is supposed to “grip the road and loosen my inhibitions.” Sounds exciting. But how do you convey that excitement without painting your specs and features across the side panels and without a special badge of performance on the back? Why, you make it a sporty colour, of course.

And that’s just what Volvo did.

The bright orange grabs your attention, makes your look up and take note of the car passing you on the road. It makes you scrutinize the rear end a bit to make sure you’re reading the model name correctly.

And that’s why the orange Volvo works. It’s an all-over performance badge instead of a single letter on the trunk. It’s a way for Volvo to make a subtle statement, something I think they’ve been perfecting for years. It’s so incredibly Volvo-like to release a fast car like the S60 T6 — with a turbocharged engine and over 300 horsepower — and just gently nudge it out into the unsuspecting public with a gentle look and no defining “sporty” features. And I love it.

It’s unassumingly fast. It’s quietly aggressive and it’s sophisticated in its aggression. Even the colour, however bright and obnoxious it might seem is the perfect shade for this car. It makes a statement without screaming. Precisely what Volvos do.

Drive on,
– M.

~ by drivingmsmiranda on March 9, 2011.

One Response to “Why an orange Volvo works”

  1. […] week I took the Volvo S60 T6 out to film for WatchMojo. While I waited for my cameraman to arrive, I decided to snap a few quick […]

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