THERE is a place at the southern tip of the Cotswolds where, in that immortal seasonal refrain from
THERE is a place at the southern tip of the Cotswolds where, in that immortal seasonal refrain from Roy Wood’s glam rock band Wizzard, it is quite possible to “wish it could be Christmas every day”.
For the Christmas Shop in Lechlade is open all year round and seemed an appropriate place to drive to and celebrate Christmas in the Cotswolds this year.
More so in 2015 as the Christmas Shop — said to be “the original and oldest Christmas Shop in Britain” — is celebrating its 30th birthday.
This week’s drive is a car that is singularly at home in the rural community that lays at the heart of the 800 square miles the Cotswolds covers. For I discovered that the Volvo V60 Cross Country D4 Geartronic Lux Nav is happy in town or country.
There are literally hundreds of villages and hamlets in this area and it has such a variety of roads that the Cotswolds has always been a favourite area for carmakers to launch new products.
The V60 Cross Country is available in a number of different engines and trim levels. The Cross Country brand’s heritage goes way back. Volvo was the first to offer increased all-road capability and styling on its estates in 1997 when it introduced the V70 Cross Country.
A Christmas shop open forever might be too much for some to bear — especially in August — but Lechlade is worth a visit for its antique shops alone at any time, not just during December.
Lechlade is the highest point at which the Thames is navigable and is named after the River Leach that joins the Thames near the Trout Inn. The Halfpenny Bridge is the usual start for a pleasant meander towards Henley and beyond.
The top UK waterway of course has played a big part in the lives of the people of Henley and been Henley’s lifeblood since back in 1179 when King Henry II bought land there “for the making of buildings”.
The Christmas Shop in Lechlade sells everything from Santas on sleighs and even a rocking horse to a German-influenced Nativity Candle Arch.
Despite the unseasonably warm weather that hardly inspired an instant Christmas atmosphere, I did find the drive more than satisfactory in the V60.
I recall when during the “big snow” of 2010 in Britain, a friend, despairing that his “ordinary” estate could not cope with such treacherous road conditions, went out and bought a Volvo V70 Cross Country.
Of course, it has not snowed since, but he feels that if it does he is ready. And that is what I always find comforting about driving a Volvo. It is reassuring to know that you can feel safe in such a car — or as safe as possible — especially because of today’s congested traffic conditions.
What we are also talking about here in the V60 is appropriate power: you know, the good old torque (pulling power) that I am always going on about.
Volvo’s new Drive-E four-cylinder diesel engines, available in both the S60 Cross Country and V60 Cross Country in the form of the D3 and D4 FWD, utilise a maximum of two litres and four cylinders. The proven five-cylinder D4 powertrain provides the power for the All-Wheel Drive variant.
Central to the Cross Country concept is, says Volvo, the expression of go-anywhere capability and rugged design.
Both the S60 Cross Country and V60 Cross Country sport an additional 65mm of ground clearance over the models they are based on.
Skid plates front and rear, side scuff plates and bumper extenders convey an imposing, muscular presence that underlies its capable nature, while integrated tailpipes reflect its sporty side.
Other design cues such as the gloss black window trim and door mirrors, unique front grille and alloy wheels, available up to 19 inches, complement the rest of the exterior styling.
By the way, for those pop fans among you, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by British glam rock band Wizzard was first released in December 1973 and went to number four in the UK pop charts. Long may it be played at this time of year.
A merry motoring Christmas to one and all.
Volvo V60 factfile
Car tested: Volvo V60 Cross Country D4 Geartronic Lux Nav
Model price as tested, including options/accessories: £42,120
Engine: D4 — 190hp
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Exterior colour: Crystal White
Upholstery: Leather, off black
Driver Support Pack: £1,900
• Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake
• Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection
• Adaptive Cruise Â Control (ACC) and Distance Alert
• Driver Alert Control (DAC) with Active High Beam
• Road Sign Information Display
• Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert (CTA)