Monday 23 October 2017

Best value for miles and miles

The Volvo S60 DRIVe is a car of its time, blending frugality with some old-fashioned virtues such as substance and style, writes Campbell Spray

Campbell Spray

Campbell Spray

A NON-WRITING colleague who had driven the Volvo S80 DRIVe was at first damning by faint praise, saying that this phenomenally economical version of the very comfortable large saloon "wasn't as bad" as he thought it would be. However, being in more festive mood, he added that "actually, it is rather good".

In fact, he got it right the second time: the S80 DRIVe with its 109bhp, 1.6 diesel engine takes a bit of getting used to and some nimble work with the gear shift but in return you get an amazingly- priced saloon with absolutely incredible economy and emissions. The latter figure of 129g/km puts this large, heavy saloon into the Band B or €156 road tax band while the former delivers 4.4l/100km on the combined cycle which gives a range of more than 1,500km. That consumption would allow you to drive overland from Dublin to Sweden on a single tank of fuel.

While the car is rather cumbersome around town and the gear-changing will wear you out, it comes into its own on the open road. It will still deliver 0-100km in under 12 seconds and the overtaking ability is far, far better than the 2.0 petrol engine in some other versions of the S80. As an added enticement, an upgrade accessory pack worth €3,730 is available on first orders of the S80 DRIVe which has a starting price of €34,500.

While Volvo's premium sector German rivals -- Audi, BMW and Mercedes -- have cars that fall into the same emissions band, they can't offer the same price package despite massive cuts in recent months across their ranges. In fact, roughly the same Volvo with a diesel engine two years ago would have cost the best part of €60,000.

The Volvo isn't the most exciting car to drive, being rather uninvolving and cumbersome. A Beemer or Audi it definitely isn't but, on the whole, that's not what buyers of the iconic Swedish brand want. Rather, they have safety, comfort and environmental considerations to the fore.

The Volvo S80 DRIVe is very much a car of style and substance. The manufacturers have seized the moment to show what the new reality -- in blending frugality with some old-fashioned virtues -- should be about. It is a car of its time. There will be more advanced cars in both propulsion and attitude but Volvo has probably got it right for the moment.

I was very impressed with the S80's comfort factors. It had everything I wanted and more. The front seats are of good living-room standard. The saloon's massive boot's usefulness was greatly enhanced by the folding rear seats which enabled me to pick up some very large and long packages before Christmas.

It is a car that really looks the business: solid, strong and dependable. The new prices mean that it might come into the banding for many a person's company car. It could be a very good choice. Rather than driving one of the many run-of-the-mill brands, they could be behind the wheel of something rather special. The S80 DRIVe is the car for the long haul, both figuratively and in reality. I rather like the idea of that drive to Sweden.

Sunday Independent

Also in Life