New Year’s Eve and it might be time to accept I’m 51. I don’t feel it but yesterday I drove to Bath in a very sensible Volvo, bought clothes in a sensible shop and then had a sensible discussion about whether investing in property or gold was the way forward in 2015. Hmm.
Yes, as the New Year’s Eve fireworks of time fall on the haystack of life, perhaps I should instead have a burning desire to paint the V70 matt black, pimp up the sound system and ram raid the nearest Gieves & Hawkes.
At least I feel safe in the V70. And as the average of of a Volvo is 29 years, that means I could buy one now and not have to worry about wheels until I require a mobility scooter at the tender age of 80.
Judging by the number of old Volvos I see around the place, quite a few of you have already cottoned on to that idea. Even so, I refuse to wear beige and still can’t stand Classic FM.
No, I think I have a few years of yearning for a Maserati left in me. I hope you feel the same. Thanks for reading and Happy New Year, whatever you drive…
The V70 is fitted with a Winter Pack – £350 of heated front screen, heated seats and headlight cleaning.
However, in Sweden they take the chilly months even more seriously and Volvos there are often fitted with pre-set heated seats, ones you can set on a timer before you get in the car.
Brilliantly simple. Volvo has offered such a system in the UK but the feature is still a rarity in British cars. It seems a bit odd to me when we are slowly having to learn to cope with ever more extreme weather. I’d love my car to be warm when I get in it.
Instead, the best we can hope for is a heated steering wheel, like that fitted in a lot of top end Jaguars and Range Rover. Surely as battery technology improves it won’t be long before manufacturers are offering central heating too?
Until then, I’m still relying on my trusty leather driving gloves…
Typical that a four-wheel drive Volvo XC60 is booked in for next week – when any risk of frozen extremities will have not doubt passed. This morning I was forced to don leather gloves for my two-wheel drive trundle in to Burford with the V70 – is it only drivers of a certain age and fetishists that own a pair?
Either way, I can recommend a set from Dents of Warminster. I can’t think of much else to recommend the Wiltshire town. Very cosy indeed. Handsewn deerskin-lined gloves, with Scottish cashmere, especially.
A gentleman in leather driving gloves at the wheel of a Volvo V70 estate doesn’t project a very sexy image I agree. However, the elongated Swede played a blinder on the untreated roads around these parts.
It doesn’t stop doughnuts driving too close behind but I’d even vote UKIP if they could prevent French-style bumper huggers hanging off my tailgate. Sort that out Mr Farage…
Icy out there? Then the V70 is probably the safest car on the road without four-wheel drive. In fact, it’s most likely safer than most 4x4s too because it has been built to Sweden’s exacting standards.
To drive this point home, the press office has added more extras to our test car than offered by a Dutch brothel. Here’s a run down of the two main packs.
Driver Support Pack (£1,900) – collision warning with full auto brake; pedestrian and cyclist detection; adaptive cruise control with distance alert; queue assist; lane departure warning; driver alert control with active high beam; road sign information display and blind spot information system.
Winter Pack with Active Bending Headlights (£350) – heated front seats and windscreen, active bending xenon headlights and headlight cleaning system.
All that is above and beyond a standard V70. Volvo claims that by 2020, their cars won’t be responsible for any crashes – that will only be down to driver error. No pressure on me in these wintery conditions then…
Last day with the Twingo and what have I learnt – that this Twingo is about a zillion times better than the original one launched in the early 1990s.
Seriously, if you want a fun city car that isn’t a Fiat 500 or a Mini then this is the car to go for. It also comes with the benefit of a whole load of standard kit missing from many rivals – even the basic model has USB, DAB, Bluetooth and LED daytime driving lights (although air con is a £500 extra).
Don’t go for the 70bhp non-turbo petrol, opt for the 90bhp turbo that comes alive when you wind up the three-cylinder unit and use the gearbox liberally.
Yes it’s rear-engined but the Twingo is agile through the bends and the back stays firmly in place. Basically, the forgiving forgiving, fun and destined to be one of the great cars of 2015. Especially if you want to stand out from the crowd.
I have news – at 3.40pm today the fuel gauge on the Twingo finally moved. It’s taken the best part of a week and I’ve covered around 75 miles, which gives you some idea of how frugal this thrifty runabout actually is (somewhere around 54mpg but capable of 65+ apparently).
I’m sure there are more economical city cars but I doubt there are many which are this much fun. Yes, the Twingo even gives the Fiat 500 a run for its money.
As a style statement, I believe the Fiat just about edges it. The Twingo isn’t as cute, missing out on the curves that make the 500 just as recognisable as the iconic original.
The Renault interior is eye-catching but again, the Fiat is prettier. It’s when you get the Twingo out on a country road that it puts a big smile on your face. Fun in all the right places…
Hats off to Renault for putting so much effort into the design of the Twingo. Admittedly, part of this cost will be shared by Daimler, who will launch the new Smart ForFour on the same platform (although the Germans will no doubt charge you a lot more for their machine).
Neat touches? Well, the cabin space is exceptional for a little car. It has five doors, the rear side windows pop outwards rather than wind down to allow more elbow room, and the front passenger seat backs flip forward to create room for carrying larger loads.
Perhaps best of all is that unlike a Ford Ka or a Skoda Fabia, it’s a little car you can get emotional about. It has something – French flair, Gallic charm, call it what you will but i’m developing a soft spot for the plucky little Renault.
And I’m finally in the boot! The key fob decided to start working again. It’s a decent size space too, considering the engine is under the rear floor. What’s under the plastic bonnet? Just a radiator, battery and screen wash bottle…