Friday, 5 December 2014

COLUMN - December 2014

Here is my column from the December edition of The Local Herald. It featured my final review of the year, and it was one of my favourite too. The new Volvo S60 with the new powerful yet super-efficient D4 engine was, on paper, a recipe for success. But this doesn't always work out in reality, and I'm always conscious of cars aiming to be green. Gladly in this instance Volvo has done a sterling job, and I was bowled over by the S60. As always see the Reviews page for the full write up.

The festive time of the year is upon us, but I shall save all of the Christmas niceties until the next issue, which should fall on your doorsteps later this month. For this month I shall offer you one last review for the year, and it was a rather impressive car indeed. You will have noticed from previous reviews that I am a fan of Volvo’s, and would have no issue in recommending one to a friend. So it was with great pleasure I took the keys to the blue S60 that had arrived for me, and made the most of my week with it.

I’ll start with the looks, because the post-facelift S60 is a very handsome car indeed. The lines are clean and sleek, yet angular and sharp too. I hesitate to use the word ‘Germanic’ when describing the looks, but it does kind of fit. The R-Design has the trademark silver mirrors and with the car finished in the stand-out ‘Rebel Blue’ paint you’d struggle to miss it drive past.

On the inside the top-quality finish has been further improved by a digital dashboard and some nicely bolstered sports seats; a much-needed improvement on the old model. I like the half leather seats, although full leather is available as an optional extra. There’s touches of aluminium to give a premium feel, and the new carbon-look centre console with an aluminium stripe is an excellent feature.

Under the bonnet was the new 2.0-litre diesel engine which offers remarkable compromise between performance and efficiency. The 181PS, 400Nm engine is good for 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 143mph. But on the flip side you have 74.3mpg on a combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 99g/km. Even if you opt for the 8-speed automatic (which is excellent by the way) the emissions are 109g/km. That’s £20 road tax in an executive saloon, which is definitely a plus point, and will also benefit company car drivers too.

And from behind the wheel there isn’t too much to grumble about either. The ride is extremely comfortable, and the cabin is one of the quietest I’ve been in. There are plenty of gadgets available to make life easy on the road too. You can opt for the driver support pack which comprises Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping Aid with DAC (Driver Alert Control) and Adaptive Cruise Control, the latter of which is excellent on a long drive. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth hands-free telephone, DAB digital radio, and one of the best iPod control systems I’ve ever used.

Then we come to price. The S60 R-Design with the D4 engine starts at £29,945 which puts it cheaper than a 320d M-Sport and A4 S-Line. In fact, for the same sort of money as the German alternatives you could go for an R-Design Lux Nav, which has even more goodies. It’s also more powerful and more efficient than both of those cars, and that’s why I urge you to consider a Volvo as your next car. They really are offering an excellent package, and can more than match rivals on quality too. A Volvo will cost you less on your P11d if you’re a company car driver, and will definitely not disappoint whether it be for the family car or motorway cruiser.

That’s all the reviews I have for this year- and it’s certainly been a busy one- but don’t worry because I’m already lining up cars for review in 2015. I’ll give you a taster of what’s to come in the next issue, so keep your eyes peeled for that one.

Dan

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