In a packed amphitheater in Sweden last Wednesday, you might have felt like you were at a Katy Perry concert. Piercing lights cut across a crowd of fans all holding up their phones to capture their next Instagram post. Giant screens blanketed the stage, and video projections gave life to inanimate objects. Only this wasn’t some grand production from a Top 40 staple, it was a car launch. The most insane car launch we’ve ever seen.
To be fair, the new XC90 is a big deal for Volvo. Since the company’s split with Ford in 2010, there have been questions as to where the safety-first car brand would go in the future. Would it thrive or die? Could it ever truly make an impact in the American market? With the XC90, Volvo set out to put those questions to bed … or at least hypnotize you with a dazzling light display into thinking they will.
The XC90 is nice. Really nice. Far nicer than you’d expect from a brand synonymous with protective boxes. The new Iron Mark, a pair of slick headlights, and some 8-spoke wheels highlight the outside of the new ride, while a large touchscreen that looks like an implanted iPad Mini is the attention-grabber inside. It’s got the innovative safety features you’d expect from Volvo, in a sleeker package that you might not.
The lavish launch also included a few Oculus Rifts for attendees to don and virtually sit inside the XC90 (which was both mind-blowing and slightly sad since the actual XC90 was 15 feet away), a Bowers & Wilkins room (their audio system is packed inside the XC90), and more Swedish food and booze than an Ikea holiday party.
Will the XC90 be the champion Volvo is looking for? We’re not sure, but they’ve clearly gone all in with it.