Swedish safety kings up the ante

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

The Swedes have always been an innovative bunch when it comes to cars.

Volvo's new addition to their cross-over range - the XC60 - clearly illustrates that the Swedish car makers mean business.

Now if I told you we are only a couple of steps away from having a car that can basically drive itself, you would probably want to know what I've been smoking . but just wait a moment!

The XC60 is the first vehicle to introduce what the makers call "City Safety".

How does it work?

Surveys show that 75percent of all accidents occur at under 30kmh. In terms of how City Safety works, a radar is installed on the top of the windscreen, which detects if a collision is imminent and will brake the vehicle for you.

At the launch of the vehicle in Cape Town last week it was quite an eerie experience to be behind the wheel of a vehicle worth close to half-a-million rand - with your feet nowhere near the pedals - and drive straight at an obstacle in front of you.

Sure enough the car comes to an abrupt halt with inches to spare in what otherwise could have been a very expensive collision.

It is a wonderful innovation and we hope to see it being introduced in more and more vehicles in future.

The 3,0litre turbo we got our hands on is linked to an impressive 6-speed geartronic gearbox that glides the vehicle along effortlessly.

Put your right foot down with force and you can expect to hit the 100kmh mark in just over seven seconds and top speed is a claimed 210kmh.

I say "claimed" because driving through the beautiful seaside towns of Fish Hoek, Simonstown and Camps Bay, who in their right mind wants to rush?

The interior is spacious with a touch of opulence but also practical.

If the boot space is not enough, at the push of a button you can lower the rear seats and the same applies with the front passenger seat if you have something particularly long - like a surfboard - to fit in the vehicle.

Volvo has built a proud history on safety first and the XC60 lives up to that.