Saturday, 17 March 2018

‘Baby’ Volvo is certain to appeal to country enthusiasts

WHAT is behind many motorists’ apparent long-time love affair with all things 4x4 — from cars fitted with all-wheel drive

WHAT is behind many motorists’ apparent long-time love affair with all things 4x4 — from cars fitted with all-wheel drive to those kitted out and actually capable of crossing a desert but unlikely ever to attempt the experience?

It is a given that most car owners today will never venture off-road. The majority anyway live in towns and cities and not in rural areas.

So why has there been this obsession with cars that are equipped for all-terrain, off-road driving or at the very least for making short work of country lanes and by-ways?

I was prompted to think of this after taking this week’s test car, a Volvo V40 T5 Cross Country SE Lux Nav AWD (All Wheel Drive), for some rural rides around Gloucestershire.

Don’t get me wrong, the Volvo V40 is an accomplished, small family car and I welcomed it as a successful new model when I drove it earlier this year.

But somehow this V40 Cross Country version is a different proposition. For my taste, it does not quite have the lightness of touch I found so appealing on that first V40 drive. Nevertheless I can see it will be a must-buy for those who would prefer to be seen in the V40’s country cousin and probably make good use of this tough little cookie. And its powerful 2497cc engine is right for the job.

My brother-in-law has an older Volvo V70 cross-country and on an outing in the spring to Scotland the V70 acquitted itself well on mixed-terrain roads. Actually, there are by-ways in the Highlands that present a constant challenge to a car with normal two-wheel drive and accompanying suspension and grip. So having the cross-country version in this instance paid off.

And of course the snowy winters we have seen in Britain in recent years add another reason for buying an AWD car.

I suspect that it is the rugged, country-style “look” that appeals to motorists when buying such a car. We all know the “county set” with their gymkhanas and pursuance of country sports, such as shooting and fishing, love their 4x4s and probably would not be seen in anything else. And to those who think such cars might be a tad unnecessary, I would say that at the end of the day cars are so much about personal choice and not much else. You could spend a good few hours trying to dissuade a friend from buying a certain make or type of vehicle but ultimately if their mind is made up that will rule the day.

There is no doubt that the V40 T5 Cross Country AWD, like just about all the new models of Volvo cars, is a good car and will not disappoint those who want this “baby” Volvo with all the expected attributes that the Swedish marque is famous for. Its high ride and bigger wheels are there to take on those rural road trips.

The test car was packed with goodies. Some of these come at a premium. Your basic on-the-road price for this model was £33,875 but with additional options and accessories added this brings this neat, muscular little car up and over the £40,000 mark.

But if you want the AWD Cross Country version of the V40 and want some additional goodies then, for example, the Driver Support pack will cost you £1,850, Park Assist Pilot £850 and Premium Sound Multimedia another £800.

It may be that a Volvo can be for life, and newer versions do nothing to dispel that legend: a welcome lightness of touch is paramount now and was missing in earlier models.

The V40 is no exception. There will be those who love the cross-country, rural ruggedness of the AWD version: my favourite is still the excellent V40 family car model and with the diesel versions you get better economy.

But as always with cars, you pays your money and takes your choice.

*Volvo V40 Cross Country SE Lux Nav AWD

*Price (on the road): £33,875

*Emissions: CO2 (g/km): 194

*Combined cycle miles per gallon: 34

*Engine: petrol 2497cc

*Transmission: six-speed

By Nigel Wigmore

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