Volvo’s 180kph limit: Pursuit of safety or Punishment for enthusiasts?

Volvo raised eyebrows by limiting the top speed of their cars to 180kph. These cars are properly powerful, with more torque than a Supercharged Jaguar F Type V6. Yet now their top speed is slower than some Proton and Perodua’s. Is this justified for cars costing well over RM200,00? Lets find out.

How fast is 180kph?

180kph was a speed seen on Saga speedometers back in the mid 80’s. Most modern cars with more than 150bhp can easily hit 160kph so another 20kph extra seems like not a big deal.

In actuality you are travelling 50 meters per seconds. Which means it takes slightly above 2 seconds to clear a distance of a football field. At this speed, if you were to blink, you would’ve travelled 5 meters. Which is more than the full length of an S90 Volvo.

Safe to say then, 180 kph is a very fast speed, and even the smallest mistake could prove to be fatal for anyone and everyone involved.

But I can upgrade to AP Brakes what?

A 1600 odd kg Porsche 911 takes about 120 meters to come to a complete stop from 180kph. That’s a car with 6 pot monobloc callipers and carbon ceramic brakes. In fact its the gold standards for braking performance.

Anything else will take at least 1.5 or 2 times the distance to stop, especially with increased weight and reduced braking performance. Imagine how much more distance and time it would take to come to a stop at speeds higher than 180kph?

Is speed a luxury feature?

Yes and no. In any self respecting luxury car, performance should be sufficient. The acceleration and the effortlessness of maintaining a good cruising speed contributes to the ease of driving, and therefore refinement of a car.

But after a certain point though, speed becomes genuinely terrifying. At that point, you no longer feel pampered but stressed from behind the wheel. Volvo feels that 180kph is the safe speed at which refinement turns into stress.

But for luxury orientated vehicles, going beyond 180kph is frankly pointless and does not undermine its refinement. Or at least that’s what Volvo engineers believe.

Where can I do more than 180kph in Malaysia?

To be frank, there are plenty of straight-ish tarmac in Malaysia where mathematically you could reach 180kph in any car putting out about 130bhp. Provided the roads empty, and there are no uneven dips on the tarmac.

Accidents take place even at odd hours

Our roads are full of commercial vehicles who pull out with little to no signal, drivers with no lane discipline and hog the overtaking lane, drivers who overtake on the left, or change lanes without checking their mirrors.

Not to mention our highways which have questionable amount of standing water on the tarmac, or with severe dips that can cause violent oscillations. Because of that you can either severely damage your vehicle or worse, crash.

And we haven’t spoken about debris on the road. Not something you want to encounter when travelling the length of a football field every 2 seconds…. Also you do realize 180kph is 70kph above the National speed limit right?

But I paid 6 digits for the car?

True, and these cars are capable of hitting speeds well above 180kph. The question is, would you? And even if you could, can you? Not every driver on our roads are as competent as YS Khong or Karamjit Singh.

Volvo has only done this for their luxury cars and SUV’s. If there’s a strictly performance orientated car from Volvo, then a 180kph limit would seem odd. The raw truth is most of us can’t handle the speed. Plus 180kph is a huge limit, with lots of room for driving experience.

Which is why Volvo has set the limit there. They seem to care about their clients. The other luxury brands have seemingly given this possibly fatal liability to its clients. That’s like handing a knife to a toddler.

We at Route Hunters Malaysia applaud the move to cap the top speed. We are more interested in the ease of acceleration, and high speed refinement. Which is what a luxury car should provide. Will we find it in a car like the S90? Watch out for this space.

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