Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Carefully built to keep you on the road for longer

WHEN motorists reach a certain age they should try asking themselves whether or not they are

WHEN motorists reach a certain age they should try asking themselves whether or not they are still fit and able to drive safely.

It should not be a big ask in my opinion but experience tells me that it’s definitely a question a lot of motorists are happy to avoid.

Yet no one wants to end up involved in a road accident that shouldn’t have happened. However, I believe that if older drivers insist on staying on the road then they need all the help they can get.

The answer of course is to drive a good car. And with that in mind I discovered in this week’s drive, the V40 D2 Manual R-Design Lux Nav, a car that I for one would be happy to grow old gracefully with.

Not that this is a car specifically for the elderly: far from it. My young neighbour — an ice hockey player in his twenties — has a smart black sporty version.

The Volvo V40 is such an all-rounder that it should not only appeal to the young and smart but also to those who can benefit from the way it has been carefully and considerately built.

This is no new thing with Volvo: it’s just that importantly for me in the last decade or so the Swedish carmaker has shed its general clunkiness, its worthiness if you like. It its place now you get Volvo cars across the board that are lighter and crisper in design and function. Yet the model range still maintains Volvo’s high standards for safety and comfort.

Above all, Volvo still views the family car as a complete picture â?? especially when it comes to consideration for those who travel in their products, that is both passengers and driver.

This may all seem obvious but while some carmakers talk the talk, it seems to me Volvo always backs up any marketing spiel with action. So you get the safety, the comfort and the economy for all those who use their cars.

And to help the driver — whatever age or ability — there was on the test car what is called a Driver Support Pack. This costs £1,900 but is well worth the expense. As you grow older certain aspects of driving become more challenging. Rightly or wrongly, motorists take pride in their driving and their right to stay on the road regardless of age with the kind of fierce determination the National Rifle Association of America has to bear arms.

Getting past that can be difficult, as anyone with an elderly parent who still drives will testify. Your sight is not what it was, and whether you like it or not neither are your reactions. Yet as we cruise along the highway towards driverless vehicles, each new model will increasingly assist you, the driver, on the road.

In the case of this Volvo V40, the Driver Support Pack had the following: collision warning with full auto brake, pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control and distance alert, queue assist (automatic transmission only), lane keeping aid, driver alert control with active high beam, road sign information display and blind spot information system with cross traffic alert.

Now your eyes might glaze over at the number of additions to your car’s equipment that can become lost in a psychobabble of acronyms. But these levels of equipment, whether as standard or options, will only increasingly be offered to new car buyers as the technology gets better.

I cannot emphasise enough that these kinds of “assists” benefit all drivers, not just older ones. With this V40 there is a completeness about the car, that assured feeling that Volvo takes you seriously as a customer.

You might be surprised by the number of times I have been disappointed with a car because its maker has stinted on the ergonomics of cabin comfort or stability and therefore safety at speed. As motorists we need to feel safe and secure on the road more so now than ever before. The Volvo V40, to my mind, fulfils this sentiment to the letter.

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