Wednesday, 10 July 2013

COLUMN - July 2013

My column this month features something a little bit Swedish. I have two Volvo's for you to have a read of, with the full reviews featured on the Reviews Page. First we have the XC90 SE Lux, which offers 7 seats and a lot of luxury too. Next up is the S60 D2 R-Design, which offers a cheap solution for company car drivers.Read on for more...

So it would appear that summer may be upon us. Finding ourselves in the month of July the weather is improving, the holiday attire is being dusted off, and I am seeing an increasing number of convertibles driving around at the slightest glimpse of sunlight. Not to mention the hundreds of motorbikes that can be heard tearing up and down the country roads not too far from the village. I must confess though, the leathers don’t look too practical in a bit of hot weather- you get the impression it’s like a boil-in-a-bag motorcyclist.

Moving on to me then, what do I have for you this month? Well I thought we could take a trip to Sweden by taking a look at two cars from my favourite Swedish car manufacturer. The Volvo’s I’m referring to are quite dissimilar, but were both interesting in their own right.

I shall start with the XC90. This is a car I reviewed just over a year ago, and I rather liked it. The 2013 model looks mostly the same as that car, except this time it came in an SE Lux trim, with the best leather, thick carpets and an air of luxury to the cabin. The engine is the same across the range now; the only option being the 2.4-litre D5. It’s an AWD system and comes with an automatic gearbox. There’s 200PS and 420Nm of torque, meaning that the XC90 is no slouch.

The XC90 is a bit dated now but still has its own niche. You see unlike the Range Rovers and X5s of this world, the Volvo has 7 seats. That’s game over if you need the extra room to do the school run. Or if you have more than 3 kids. Despite it showing its age somewhat, the XC90 is still rather popular, and from spending a week with it I could see why; there’s a certain charm to it and the practicality aspect will just blow you away.

Granted, it barely fits in a parking space (as I found out in a multi-storey car park in Chester), or in a small village for that matter. It will offer you 34.4mpg combined, and cost you £280 a year to tax. Yet somehow you won’t care.

Moving on I think the S60 R-Design is worth a mention. Finished in ‘Ice White’ it arrived at my house looking absolutely gorgeous. It has that (forgive me, Volvo) ‘Germanic’ sense of purpose about it, but with more interesting styling. Especially with the R-Design kit on it, such as the 18-wheels, full bodykit, twin tail pipes and boot spoiler. Inside it featured the same blue dials found on all R-Design models.

The engine powering my test car is the 1.6-litre D2 diesel, which offers 115PS and 270Nm. IT also came equipped with an interesting ‘Powershift’ transmission, which is an automated manual. Basically this offers the practicality and convenience of an automatic but without the effect on fuel consumption. To prove this point, the S60 offered 65.7mpg combined and- with CO2 of 114gkm- £30 for a year’s tax. Not too bad considering that the S60 is, in every way, an executive saloon car.

I really enjoyed the S60 because it had the perfect level of equipment, with cruise control, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity. There’s a good sized boot, plenty of space in the cabin and a touch of premium quality throughout. Everyone who saw the S60 loved it, but if I was picking one I’d choose more power! There’s a D5 with 215PS and still £30 road tax. Yes please!

As always full reviews can be found on my blog. See you next month!

Dan

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