Monday, 26 June 2017

COLUMN – June 2017

Here is another chance to catch my column from the June editions of The Local Herald and The Clitheroe Local. It has been a busy month, but I have to say that I am thoroughly enjoying fatherhood. Sure, there are challenging times- not least when the 3am screaming occurs- but it is all worth is for a smile, a laugh, or the firm grip of your finger. And it also meant I could squeeze in just one vehicle to test. But what a vehicle it is. You will all know by now that I am a huge fan of Volvo, so I couldn't wait to get behind the wheel of their latest executive saloon: the S90.

So here we are. June. Almost halfway through the year in what seems like a heartbeat. A lot has happened over the last month, not least my ascension to fatherhood. Sure, the amount of sleep I get has drastically reduced, but that’s a small price to pay when your daughter stares at you with big eyes full of unconditional love. What I have found is that paternal instincts are strong. You are besotted in an instant, and will do everything in your power to offer protection.

That makes my test car this month particularly interesting. The word “Volvo” conjures up connotations of safety, build-quality and a certain robustness that suggests the car may well outlive you. All of this is good for protecting the little one, but that’s of little consolation if the car itself was a drab, dreary box that was as fun to drive as a clog.

The car I was testing was the all-new S90. You may well have seen the TV advert with a rather smug-looking chap driving it to, and through, Paris. ‘Human made’ is the tag line, and it suggests an air of quality that only the finest cars on the market can provide. And from spending a week in the S90, I can tell you that quality resonates in every aspect of it.

On the outside the styling is executive; a balance of imposition and sleekness. This is a very long car indeed, but disguises the fact well until you look closely. The Thor hammer LED daytime running lights are instantly recognisable as Volvo, and frame the concave grille nicely.

Inside, the materials are of the highest quality. My car had black leather, but with cream leather and wood veneer the level of opulence is exemplary. Short of your really special cars – Rolls Royce and the like – this is one of the nicest interiors of any car on sale. The seats are sculpted, comfortable, and are available with a massage function. Not just a lumbar cushion inflating and deflating either. No, these are proper massage seats, that knead and caress your back to ensure you remain relaxed whilst crawling down the M6 at 13mph.

There are a few engines to choose from, and my test car came with the one I’d pick: the 2.0-litre D5 diesel engine. It produces 235PS and 480Nm of torque. There’s an 8-speed automatic gearbox and power is sent to all four wheels. That means the S90 is actually pretty nippy: 0-62mph takes 6.7 seconds and the top speed is 145mph.

The AWD setup results in some excellent handling capabilities too. The grip levels are comfortable even on the wettest road, and give the driver confidence behind the wheel. The chassis is superb: body roll is minimal, the steering is direct, and the suspension balances composure and comfort to perfection.

How about running costs? Well the D5 boasts 58.9mpg on the combined cycle, and CO2 emissions of a mere 127g/km, which is impressive for a large, executive saloon with this level of performance and AWD. Road tax would be £160 in the first year, and £140 thereafter. But be careful, because ticking a few option boxes will easily push the S90 over £40,000 and that means a surcharge of £310 for five years. Bloody government!

Prices for the S90 start at £33,865, and even the entry level models come with a host of safety equipment and that same feeling of quality. Put a few options on the D5’s though and you can get close to £50,000. Having said that, the S90 is worth every penny: I would have one in a heartbeat. Now how about a Polestar version…

Dan

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