I’ve blogged before about my ineptitude in test-driving a car. By contrast I do drive a car a lot… About 40,000 miles a year. About 6 months ago I bought a Volvo V40 D2. My plan is to use it for commuting for three years before changing it. I mainly drive on quiet country roads or dual carriageways.
I bought the D2 for comfort, fuel consumption and extras. I got a good deal on an ex-demonstrator which was 6 months old. In the past I’ve had nice executive company cars from Saab to Mercedes and it has been quite shocking to view the true cost of financing your own car when you have high personal mileage. I am sure there must be an opportunity for someone to put together a deal which works like personal leasing but for those who do a lot of miles. I couldn’t find anything remotely comparable with financing it myself.
The fuel consumption in the Volvo is excellent. I average a real 58-60 mpg although the trip computer suggests roughly 64 mpg. This is about as good as it gets. Another thing I like about refuelling is the integrated fuel cap which makes it easy and clean. With free road tax also it is pretty cheap to run.
The seats are very comfortable. Previously I have liked Saab seats and been less enamoured with Japanese cars and Audi. The Volvo seats feel broad and firm and are easy to adjust. I have electric front seats but I would never pay for them as an extra explicitly.
The gadgets are many and varied. The ones I like are the Xenon corner-bending headlights, the automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, the DAB radio and iPod integration, the folding boot floor, shopping bag hooks and the automatic braking sensor. The most spectacular is the automatic parking. I don’t have the cameras but the all round sensors are very good. The automatic parallel parking is terrifying the first time you do it. What I do find is there are not that many places where you parallel park these days. It is great for getting into the tight spots that others (me) try and drive on from which are that bit nearer the shops, beach etc. Don’t believe the hype about ending up one inch from the curb but you do end up in an acceptable position. Do believe that it will get you into spaces you wouldn’t tackle yourself.
The gadgets which aren’t worth it are the theatre lights and the panoramic sunroof. The lights can be virtually any colour you like but it just isn’t that atmospheric or effective to worry about or pay for. The sunroof is beautiful but as a driver the action is all behind you. In the back seat it is wonderful but above the driver’s head is solid roof due to safety and the amount of technology housed at the top of the windscreen. I was also disconcerted about the sunscreen failing very shortly after purchase. It is under warranty but this is just one of the little niggles – the floormat anchor has come loose too which just hints at problems later on.
The handling is OK but I never feel I am driving a sports car and there is some judder on bends. The acceleration is average – I know this is the tradeoff with fuel consumption and I am happy with it. The boot is a decent size. We could get two 20kg holiday suitcases in there plus a bit of hand luggage and get the boot cover down still.
I get regular opportunities to test the Volvo dealer network. They have surprised me. My service costs seem pretty low (although I do need a service after only 12,400 miles which seems low these days as a service interval – 18,000 miles with Mercedes) and the staff are always helpful and explain things well. I have Volvo insurance which turned out to be a really good deal when I shopped around much to the surprise of the dealer I bought it from. The dealer I use for servicing also do price matching on tyres and so I got a good price on Pirelli replacement tyres at the last service too. All in all I am satisfied and impressed with the spec for the car. You get a lot of bang for your buck and I think it’s a nice looking shape. Ask me in two year’s time about the build quality.