Friday 16 November 2018

It pays to play safe in a Volvo

The Volvo XC40 is great and boasts the latest safety features. But all this comes at a price, writes Campbell Spray

REAL INVESTMENT: Sadly, the new Volvo XC40 is out of Campbell’s price range
REAL INVESTMENT: Sadly, the new Volvo XC40 is out of Campbell’s price range

The Volvo XC40 is the car I have most enjoyed this year. It has style, capacity, confidence and real ability, so I wasn't surprised it won European Car of the Year at the Geneva Motor Show last Monday.

The Volvo well beat the Seat Ibiza which narrowly came in front of the BMW 5-Series.

I first came across the XC40 on display in a pop-up shop in Dublin's Grafton Street before Christmas. The car looked exciting and classy, but when it arrived on test it was even better.

The brilliant white exterior was set off by a stone-coloured roof and the black leather seats were complemented by red inserts and door mats, giving the car a trendy feel. Of course, it is packed with safety devices to protect occupants and the wider public.

All this doesn't come cheap and the 2WD entry-level model costs around €38,000. The model on test was the D4 AWD R Design Geartronic version - absolutely packed with every conceivable extra, but it adds up to €63,425 before post and packing.

While the Volvo isn't the most exciting drive, it suited me fine. It was comfortable, very roomy for a so-called small SUV - it can take five adults - and makes a real impression.

It's the sort of car you would buy as a real investment in your lifestyle and prestige. A pity it's out of my price range.

However, even at €63k it was considerably cheaper than the Jaguar E-Pace I had the week of Emma and the snow. This 'First Edition' model with an automatic box and AWD and a tonne of extras comes in at €77,425 before p&p and is the top of the E-pace range which starts at €36,000. That means one of two things: either the base car is pretty poor or the First Edition is ridiculously overpriced.

I think it is the latter, for while I was pleased to have the abilities of the E-Pace, it is not a car worth nearly €80k. It is an imposing car and looks hefty rather than sleek. Yet inside there isn't the passenger room you would like. However, Jaguar must be praised for moving into the compact SUV area and the E-Pace aims to build on the success of the larger F-Pace, its first SUV, which soon after its 2016 launch became one of company's best-selling models.

Like the Volvo, the E-Pace is very much a premium car and has an aggressive, well-built stance. Geraldine Herbert reviewed it in detail here two weeks back, so I will just say that my colleagues and I were glad I had it for the bad weather.

Driving during that time, I was struck by how badly behaved many people are when the snow and ice hits our roads.

Many people were travelling too fast, too close to other cars and weren't being considerate enough. Not that pedestrians were sometimes any better. People were running into the paths of cars and others were walking in the middle of the road. A lot of this could have been avoided if people acted together properly and cleared the pavements outside their homes and businesses.

It is a moral duty and it is especially important that older people have ice-free pavements to walk on. The morbidity and mortality of senior citizens who break their hip is frightening.

There were some great examples of people banding together to free roads and get emergency vehicles through. But these shouldn't be the exceptions. Get your shovels out. It makes up for the gym being closed.

Sunday Independent

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