Sunday, 5 August 2012

COLUMN - August 2012

So we're into August now and my column this month should provide you with more joy than the weather has done this summer. My topic this month revolved mostly around the Volvo XC90, the full review of which can be found on the car reviews page. I hope you enjoy the column!

Well I arrived back from the 35-degree heat of Bulgaria to flood warnings, heavy rain and some of the gloomiest skies I have ever seen. Summer? Forget it. By the time you read this we will be in August and I truly hope the weather will have taken a turn for the better. Also, my graduation is in July and so at the time this column goes to print I will have my BSc, as will my fiancĂ©e. It’s nice that after three years of hard work we will have something to show for it all.

I promised readers that there will be some exciting features coming up, and some of them are already with us. On my site now is a short piece about the mountain biking trip I had planned. I took a Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian to North Wales and had a cracking day on the trails. There’s even a video of a professional tackling some of the newer jump runs, and this makes for a great watch; be sure to check it out.

So what about on the car front? Well you can be sure of several reviews coming up in the next few weeks, and I’ll keep the element of surprise by not telling you what they are. Last month I wrote about two executive saloon cars. This month I took another step up the automotive ladder; the Chelsea Tractor.

For those not so familiar with the phrase I shall explain. 4x4’s. Large SUV’s driven by mums doing the school run. Rarely taken off road these cars are bought for status. But is that all they are good for? Well I managed to get my hands on a £45,000 Volvo XC90 and wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Straight away I realised what is meant by the term ‘road presence’. Being high up almost gives a sense of superiority. Furthermore, sitting in a black car with part-black wheels and tinted windows turns heads and adds to the driving experience.

In a previous review of a Volvo I raved about the diesel engine, and this one is yet again sublime. The 2.4-litre 5-cylinder unit produces 200PS and a noise that makes it sound more like a V8 than an oil-burner. The power goes through an automatic gearbox to all four wheels and there always seems to be power there when you need it.

The best part about the size of the XC90 is the level of practicality offered. Unlike the Range Rover, X5, VW Touareg and the likes, the XC90 has seven seats. Even with all the seats up, there is still a useable boot behind the split-tailgate. This sets the XC90 a step ahead because the extra seats make the school run a doddle. Furthermore, the operation of the seats couldn’t be easier and can be operated with one hand. Whilst the rear-most seats are better suited for children, it is not to say that an adult couldn’t fit.

So as an all-round car to own? Well if you have the money then you certainly wouldn’t be disappointed by the level of equipment, the quality of the build or the drive. Certainly the only downside I could think of was that the shape of the XC90 is a bit dated now; it is not far removed from the first model we saw in 2003. It still looks good, but in a more chunky, rugged way. This is helped by the quad-exhausts and huge wheels. It even takes significant effort to shut the doors.

As always visit my site for a full review.

Dan

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