Last Saturday, 29 June, I and 10 other Americans, plus two Germans from Volvo Cars out of Cologne, participated in what I consider to be the premier driving experience of my life! We were all offered the training by the US Military Sales folks: some of us have Volvos, have one on order such as me, or are considering buying a Volvo. The day began by driving out of Wuerzburg, about fourty minutes, to the Bosch Testing Center near Boxberg, Germany. We headed out in a V70 and a V40 stationwagen. I was with two fellow civilians from the Schweinfurt area. At Boxberg we initially were briefed by one of the two Germany professional drivers who ran the training, and divided up in to two groups, one English speaking and the other mostly German speaking. My leader then brought us out to the five cars we would be using that morning; a V70, V70XC, S60, and an S80. Our leader kept the V40 wagen as his car for the day. A one-way radio was mounted in the back seat of each of the Volvos. We convoyed from the admin center, through a tunnel that passed through the oval 2-mile track that surrounds the Bosch Center, in to the gigantic training area. Our 2nd group began on the other side of the testing area, and there was a group of VIP Drivers Training with a mixed batch of Audis, MBs, BMWs going through their rounds on another part of the grounds. We began our morning exercises with a giant salom, which we started slowly, then worked up to speed, finally throwing our cars around the course. Then we stopped on command, and switched cars so everyone got the feel for the different models, automatic and manual drives. The same procedure was followed for the following exercises that morning: the elk exercise, where on dry pavement you come up on a barrier, then cut left or right to avoid it, without braking. You then must regain control and steer back through a row of pylons. We did this with the Dynamic Stability Traction Control (DSTC) engaged on all cars, then we shut it off, and WOW! what a difference in trying to control the cars! It showed me how much the electronics in these cars make a difference, literally in life and death situations. Not sure why the DSTC can be turned off?
I didn't ask that question 'cause I was having so much fun by now! It was super to see how these cars reacted, and how well, or poorly I did to keep them under control. The next exercise was on a wet pad of cobblestone road, something we find very often here in Germany, with a red stop light, full braking, then a green arrow to steer left or right around an obstacle. What an trip this one was. Then we did a road course, lunch, and came out to do the water basin at 120 KMH, eventually coming out of it with a full locked steering, hitting the dry pavement and going in to a slide. That was an experience without the DTSC off! We ended the day with a 180 KMH run around the oval, going in to the 33* banked wall, and feeling the slingshot effect as you came out, and then finally, we did the wetpad circle, driving each car until the rear end broke away, and learning how to control the over and understeering. At 5 PM I was so high I can't tell you. What a feeling! All I can say is THANKS VOLVO! for the wonderful experience and hopefully if I ever need to use these skills, it will save my or someone elses life or at a minimum prevent serious damage or injury. The cars were great, the Bosch Center was super, your staff was superb! I'd do this again in a heartbeat. Is there another level that I can advance to??!
PS - got some good pix, maybe I'll figure out how to put them up here....
2003 S80 T6 Executive, Silver/Off-black leather, RTI, backup radar, HU-801 DPL, on order w/FDC pickup in OCT 02