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Voting for care and a shut gate


ECONOMY: The V50 is one of the many models delivering fantastic diesel consumption figures

ECONOMY: The V50 is one of the many models delivering fantastic diesel consumption figures

ECONOMY: The V50 is one of the many models delivering fantastic diesel consumption figures

Who do we vote for? What do we want? And at what cost? While trying to solve this conundrum, my party allegiances have swung back and forth for reasons ranging from fanciful manifestos and horrendous prior experiences to canvassers and leaflet-droppers who leave the garden gate open.

However, the reasoning gained more focus last week when over two days I drove a medley of cars and availed of a range of commuting solutions the capital tried to offer -- the Luas, bus and the Dublin Bike scheme.

Volvo is one brand that has done particularly well in sales at the beginning of this year with an increase nearly double the industry norm. Much of this has been on the back of the very stylish and ultra safe S60 and V60, the saloon and estate that is a great rival to the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C Class.

However, Volvo under its new Chinese owners, after being sold by Ford, now has probably the biggest range ever: going from the funky C30 with lots of style but awfully impractical rear hatch to the massive XC90. In between, there are convertibles, saloons and the company's trademark estates, which deserve the same popularity over here as they have in our nearest neighbour with the country set and those with such aspirations.

What I like about Volvo is its commitment to safety, which on a personal level saved my life and that of four of my friends nearly 43 years ago; and on a global scale put the first seatbelts in cars and now has made a commitment to ensuring that within 10 years, no one will be killed or injured in a new Volvo car.

That is the sort of manifesto commitment we need. Along with this direct approach to saving lives, the company has a very definite environmental campaign and last Monday I was able to drive three of its cars which contribute under 100 g/km in emissions and absolutely fantastic diesel consumption figures of around 74 mpg.

The best of these vehicles is the V50 estate, a car which I initially dismissed as boring but is growing on me every time I test it. The DRIVe models use the upgraded 1.6 diesel engine but pay attention to getting extra savings from modifications to reduce air resistance, have low rolling resistance tyres and have a more efficient driveline, include stop/start technology and gearbox with longer gear ratios. The price for the attractive V50 DRIVe model starts at a few pence under €28,000.

Another good manifesto commitment: the DRIVe badge will be attached to those models that deliver the best environmental performance in their respective size classes.

But let's park the motoring for a second, as I do believe that we have to take our travel needs as a whole and where possible reduce our driving to that which is either enjoyable and/or totally necessary. That's why I will cycle, bus or Luas it where possible and move towards using plug-in vehicles for much of the rest of the time. I will plump for candidates who have joined-up thinking on these issues.

And, of course, those who shut the gate. At the moment I am going Green. Labour lost out on the last point on Wednesday night and Fine Gael the week before.

Sunday Independent