Volvo XC90 - Make a Bold Statement.

Monday, 10 November 2014

This is not your typical car review. If you are expecting exciting car specs and technical features of the Volvo XC90 T5 R-Design, then you've come to the wrong place. I wouldn't know how many horses it takes to drive this car, nor would I know how fast it takes to accelerate from 0-100km/h. I'm clueless about chassis, gearboxes, and brake distribution. I wasn't listening when the husband droned on and on excitedly about these.

I was simply enjoying how the car rolls. How comfortable it is to travel in an almost velvety silence, without being bothered by bumps and uneven roads. How wonderful it is to have the kid nap every.time. the drive lasts more than ten minutes. I'm big into aesthetics. And fierce, muscular, boxy cars. I don't want to delve into things which I wouldn't really bother about if I drive a car.

This Volvo experience is, after all - written by a woman.


I've always had a thing about Volvos. I'm not sure if it started when my father told me way back when I was in Primary school, that Volvo in Latin means 'I roll'. Since then, every time I see a Volvo, I expect it to just roll - smoothly, silently, over hill and over dale.

Volvo cars always scream understated chic to me. They aren't as ostentatious as another luxury brand, which is the preferred choice of gold wearing businessmen, nor as flashy as those which most 80s and 90s yuppies choose to drive. I tend to associate Volvos with men who are in serious professions yet have a quirky side; they aren't content with just telling everyone that 'they have arrived'.

I think there's something about Volvos being a 'man's car'. Very rarely do we see ladies drive them - maybe because they are too 'sharp' to lure females.

Top: The Volvo 700. Bottom: Volvo 850 Estate

I remember my Mum told me about her friend who refused to sit in her husband's Volvo Estate because she thought it was a morbid looking thing, and her husband had to buy another car just to appease her (methinks it was just a ploy). I wonder if she would think the same way now if he came home with this:

Talking about a 'manly' car, even their models have always been about alphanumerics. No cutesy names which seem to be de rigueur in Japanese car models. V40, V70, S60, XC70, XC80, XC90 - starkly simple, yet functional, perhaps in reverence to the fact that most men are bad with names!

Seriously though - I absolutely love how HUGE this car is. It's muscular yet debonair, thanks to the clean lines which flow seamlessly, much like a photoshop effect. It definitely is designed to provide that 'WOW' factor, take your breath away, yet allows you to recover it in time to bundle 4 - 6 kids in with relative ease. This 7-seater is designed to be a people mover, and is an urban Mum's dream!

Child proof, inside AND outside.
When driven as a 5-seater, the spacious boot accommodates even the bulkiest stroller (or two), along with bric and bracs needed for a day out at the beach, road trips, or carting cakes without any worry about spoiling their frosting! (ok that was so random, but it just seems like the perfect solution for all the times I have had to carry boxes of cupcakes with icing on my lap!)

How many Cadens does it take to fill the boot?
The 2 extra seats fold in to create ample space, but easily pops up when there are additional passengers. Nifty!

Now you see it, now you don't!
Whilst we are on the subject of seats, Volvo has touted their seats to be the 'most comfortable in the world', thanks to consultation with orthopaedic surgeons in order to bring us the most ergonomically designed seats, which is perfect for long distance trips. I was sceptical at first, thinking that the seats look pretty standard - but I was proven terribly, terribly wrong.

You know that sense of satisfaction when you find a perfect, comfortable position as you curl up on a chair or a couch? When your whole body relaxes and allows itself to be moulded onto the seat. That's the feeling I get every time I settle in the car. Regardless whether I sat in the front seat, back seat, or the additional boot seats. It's almost instinctive... like my body sending signals to my brain: "Hey, how's this for comfort?!"

In addition to that - those leather seats were not only comfortable, they did not trap heat. Even when the car has been parked under the blazing sun for hours, they remained cool to the touch. The car's interior also remained comfortably cool despite the heat outside. I don't know what the people at Volvo did (I did not detect any visible window coating), but whatever it was - it works!

The Small (but very necessary) details

1. The entire car can be turned into a mobile phone. 

Using a simple bluetooth technology, you can keep your eye on the roads, and be able to answer or make urgent phone calls using just the keys within reach on the dashboard.

2. One touch control via the dashboard

Gone are the days when you have to manually check child locks, adjust air con vents, and turn down the music just to please one passenger. These can all be done by simply activating a few buttons on the dashboard. So useful for Mums on the go!

Other driving details necessities are a thumb touch away.

3. Individual features to please each and every passenger

Direct air con vents on the back seat which can be adjusted to any angle. Individual down lights (a la plane cabins!), speaker volume selection and cup holders. Ample leg room at the front and back. Now that's really pleasing everyone!

4. Night time drive

When the kid asks me to find his dropped toy in the car at night, it drives me nuts. Groping around dirty car mats isn't my idea of fun after a long hard day at work, and it's worse when it's a stray cookie crumb or cracker which I absolutely have to find there and then to avoid pest infestation!

That's why I appreciate that Volvo has designed a car with attention to all these little details. It's a car made for families, with enhancing features to make every ride easier and safer for all.

One bulb closer to world domination!

5. It puts kids to sleep.

I have no idea why, but Caden has fallen asleep every time he sits in it over the weekend. He totally forgets about playing games on Mummy's phone, singing songs at the top of his voice to terrorize his parents, and asking incessant questions to stump his Mummy. He goes all quiet, looks out of the window, and falls asleep.

I know that kids usually sleep in cars and trains and moving vehicles, but I suppose the comfort and smooth drive, on top of the lulling motion - proves too irresistible for the kid. 

Other details (which the husband thinks is necessary)

1. It performs amazingly on slopes and steep inclines.

"It's effortless, and I don't even have to rev the engine in the slightest bit!" 

Amazing cruise control. You betcha!

2. It's a very stable all terrain car, with the bonus of a turbo powered engine.

We went for a joyride round Singapore's expressways, with Rock of the Ages blaring on the stereo, the kid oblivious to the noise, the rain pelting down, thunder and lightning in the distance and the husband absolutely enjoying the drive.

Need I say more?

3. Prudent fuel consumption for its 2.5l engine

My in laws stay in the East, we stay in the West. Caden's school and day care is near my in laws' place, and my husband's office is in Ubi - so this involves us having to drive long distances every morning and evening, When we look for a car, one of the most important determining factors is its fuel consumption, and the XC90 fulfils that criteria fabulously. It's pretty amazing given its size and bulk, and we were expecting it to be a guzzler of an SUV.

After a weekend drive all round Singapore, going up and down expressways, to the East, West, North and Southernmost tip of the island - the gauge showed barely under 1/2 of a tank used! 

Now, this is the thing which strikes me most about the XC90. It's muscular and a huge hulk of a monster car. Yet there's a softness about it, somehow... in the way that the interior envelopes you in comfort, and you somehow feel safe, cocooned in its luxurious interior. It's a rugged car, but it doesn't feel a need to boast about its prowess, preferring to let you get used to it, and then you make subconscious comparisons when you sit in other cars.

I like the Volvo XC90. I think you will, too.


Disclaimer: This post is made possible by Volvo Singapore. All opinions are our own, including having to deal with the kid who misses the 'awesome car' the most.

"Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag."

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

We all realize that we cannot be at a euphoric high all the time - yet when we're feeling low and unhappy, it can be so difficult to believe that life can, and will get better.

Sometimes we get a stroke of luck that makes things seem to fall into place, brings days when you wake up with a smile on your face, and fall asleep at night feeling like you've never been happier in your life. We feel that our heart and being may just burst with happiness; everything seems brighter, and everyone is a little more bearable. You get that unexpected call from someone you've been yearning for, you get that promotion and recognition at work, there may even be windfall financially. These incidences and surprises can make us feel on top of the world.

On the other hand, you find out that your best friend has betrayed you in the worst imaginable way possible, you hear from a friend that your partner is seeing someone else... the rent is overdue, and your boss has just informed you that your services are no longer needed, and then you lose a loved one. These experiences can make us thoroughly devastated, upset, demoralised, and utterly at odds with the world.

In life, there will be unexpected twists and turns of fate and fortune - and your choices will then determine the path of your destiny. Sometimes odds will turn in your favor and bring unexpected good luck and fortune, sometimes it will turn against you and you will experience evil and misfortune. However, these 'incidences' are beyond our control, no matter what it is that we do. 

They are part of the eternal movement and cycle of life.

Life has its ups and downs, and understanding this would help us be stronger in the face of daunting obstacles ahead. It does make us hold a more realistic view of life itself... it makes us realize that whatever we hold in our hands can be gone in the blink of an eye. In that split second of time - things can change.

Just as that wheel turns down, it will eventually right itself up again. Difficult times have made me see that life can be infinitely rich and bountiful in every way... and sometimes the little things that worry me - is of no consequence whatsoever. I've come to realize that no matter what it is that we go through, the best way to live is ultimately about seeing liberation from suffering, about discovering joy and freedom in the midst of each moment exactly as it is, whether we are stressed or relaxed, happy or sad.

I have learnt to let go of my incessant planning for a perfect life, and experience fully the life I am actually living: the wonder of reality as it actually is, moment by moment. It turns out that freedom from suffering is found in living and embracing all the ups and downs of life. It can all be all right, not necessarily pleasant or fun, but we're content. All the ups and downs can be part of a life of joy and freedom, a truly satisfying life.  

Don't let troubles get you down so much so that life passes you by. 
Life usually happens when we're too preoccupied doing other things.



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