IT’S enough to make even the most hardened of motorists go misty-eyed with nostalgia. Vauxhall, one ... [more]
Saturday, 22 February 2020
WHATEVER the future holds for the car, be it all electric or autonomously driven, the freedom of driving still resonates with most motorists.
Traffic hold-ups are endemic but the attraction of being able to go where you want when you want is still paramount for most road-users.
In an event-crazy nation — the UK events industry is worth £43billion — there are in any one year a lot of shows and festivals to visit.
This means thousands of car journeys across Britain whatever the hassle and the annual flower show at Hampton Court is no exception.
This world-class event — which was first staged in 1993 — attracts on average 140,000 visitors each year, many of whom arrive by car.
And, as we have done for many years, we were there too — arriving at the newly named 2019 RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival in this week’s drive, the new Volvo V60 estate.
This car was made for this event: an all-new Cross Country version of the classic estate, luxuriously comfortable and equipped with the latest technology.
Of course the estate car is Volvo’s speciality of decades past and in this second generation V60 we have a car whose design and execution exudes all that past experience of estate car manufacture.
Long-term Volvo estate car fans will be glad to know that the 2019 V60 has great power plus fuel efficiency from the Drive-E engine which exclusively powers this model.
There is the largest boot on offer of any top-class compact estate, along with a voluminous cabin. It comes with semi-autonomous drive technology and top connectivity features.
And, something I am always happy to emphasise with any Volvo, the collision avoidance and occupant-protection systems on this car are paramount.
It may be that some will argue that all this comes at a price — the new V60 starts at £31,810. So as with all new cars, the price range can be your choice (the test car came in at £50,495.01) given the striking array of options and specifications available.
There are three trims for the new V60: entry-level Momentum, dynamic R-Design and luxurious Inscription.
It strikes me that with this Cross Country version of the new V60 you get the best of both worlds — practicality plus go-anywhere ability plus comfort.
The engine choice for this car at launch was between two diesel (D3 and D4) and one petrol (T5) with T4 petrol and T6 Twin Engine, and T8 Twin Engine plug-in petrol-electric hybrid powertrains to be available within a year.
This Hampton Court show with a difference for 2019 had one main ingredient that made it buzz: live music.
There were gardens aplenty, of course, and vibrant displays of roses, lavender, dahlias and wild flowers but I found the music a huge bonus for foot-weary visitors.
One group of singers in particular, the Soul Brothers brilliantly spread joy from the show’s Floating Stage with their renditions of soul and rhythm and blues classics.
One show garden that particularly caught my eye in this age of encouraging more wildlife into your garden was the Urban Pollinator Garden designed by Caitlin McLaughlin of Thrift Landscapes.
The emphasis was on wildlife-friendly planting to encourage pollinators, specifically bees, allowing them to thrive.
I liked the way the garden also celebrated our summertime, which is woefully short.
The subject of gardens being good for our health and wellbeing was also demonstrated with this garden, as after the show it was being relocated to a hospice in Northamptonshire to benefit patients.
At the new Ditton Avenue festival entrance, visitors enjoyed vivid pink swathes of 4,000 “Mendoza” dahlias.
This festival paid homage to plants woman Beth Chatto, who passed away in 2018 and was named as Horticultural Hero of the event.
As in previous years there was a range of trade stands at the show, selling everything from jewellery and clothing to greenhouses and garden tools.
As long as there are events such as the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, the people will come from far and near.
And this year’s added “festival” atmosphere brought the show firmly into the early 21st century.
Volvo V60 Cross Country D4 AWD Cross Country Automatic
Price of test car: £50,495.01
• Sensus 9in touchscreen, voice-activated control system
• LED headlights
• Power-operated tailgate
• Satnav and Volvo On Call connected services platform – standard on every version
• Choice of 14 exterior colours
• Performance: 0-62mph from 6.7 seconds (T5)
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