Back to work then – a Monday morning in January is always a bleak start to the New Year. And today we’re saying ‘hej da’ – that’s Swedish for goodbye’ to our seasonal Volvo that is the XC70.
At a time when SUVs are growing fatter by the day, the great thing about the XC70 is that it now looks trim by comparison. No longer is a Volvo estate a huge car – indeed it looks positively svelte next to a Land Rover Discovery or a Hyundai Tucson.
It’s only on the inside that the XC70 becomes roomy and spacious. Big boot for three large dogs, masses of rear legroom and storage boxes and cubbyholes for all your stuff.
Add to this the quality feel of the cabin, the safety features, decent fuel economy and the permanent all-wheel drive and you start to see why the XC70 still makes very good sense.
There will be prettier SUVs launched in 2016, cars with more mass appeal but the Volvo XC70 remains a very good family mover indeed.
If you’ve just put down a deposit for the a new Volvo XC90 I have to tell you that the XC70 is actually a more stylish car.
Controversial? Yes, the 70 is old school now and the latest 90 is loaded with tons of cool gizmos. The 90 is also Car of the Year 2015 for many motoring mags in the UK.
Yet park them side by side and XC70 estate looks so much slicker than its outsize sibling that it’s almost embarrassing! Why would you want a chunky monkey when you can own a sleek loadlugger?
Not much driving going on today in the Cotswolds. Absolute minger out there and even with permanent four-wheel drive, I’ve no intentions of taking the Volvo anywhere… Possible until next year at this rate!
Funny how sports utility vehicles are such a boom sector in the UK – yet you often feel like a social pariah driving one. Even out here in the Cotswolds, you need a good splattering of mud on the bodywork to qualify for four-wheel drive owner status.
As I live on the muddiest farm track this side of Cheltenham, every car I drive is caked in the stuff after just one trek down to the road. In the summer I have to contend with clouds of dust instead.
We’re in that no man’s land between Christmas and the New Year, when nobody seems to know what to do with themselves, what day it is and what the hell is going on.
I did actually consider washing the XC70 this morning – that’s how bad it’s got. I’m still reluctant to let the Volvo go next week. Never thought I’d hear myself saying that…
My Christmas nightmare? Shopping in the sales. Not entirely sure what drives people to leave the warmth of their family home in the festive season to battle it out for £10 off a toaster but Britain’s favourite pastime these days involves a credit card and jingle music on a loop.
Which led me to consider which cars we’ve driven at Car Couture in 2015 that I might, just might, consider to queue for if there was a bargain to be had. Surprisingly, the XC70 is one of them – ahead of the all conquering XC90. Just because it’s not a statement car and has a classless quality.
Here are the others you can read about elsewhere on this site…
Morgan Plus 8 – the rawest, craziest sports car built by Roberts, not robots. The fuel gauge flicks around like a mad thing, the noise is deafening, the fun is unbeatable.
Aston Martin Vantage V12 – brutally effective machine that looks sensational and performs accordingly. Showing its age not but still an absolutely cracking convertible.
McLaren 570S – The surprise supercar of 2015. The slowest and cheapest machine in the McLaren stable is the ultimate street racer. Full stop.
Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale – We can’t wait for the Alfieri coupe in 2017 but until then, this wonderful, roaring 2+2 is cooler than any Mercedes.
Porsche 911 S Cabriolet – It is the benchmark convertible for all others to follow. Appeals more to the dead than the heart but still a sports car for all seasons.
Other car manufacturers would tell you they make a better crossover but the XC70 is an SUV and a ‘proper’ estate rolled into one.
A proper estate? Well, SUVs are fine, except when you want to carry people and luggage at the same time.
So while the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Mercedes bling thing all boast more speed and badge cred, the XC70 is extremely practical and arguably a more luxurious car.
And yes, because you don’t see that many of them in the UK, the Volvo has a certain niche cache missing from the German marques which, let’s face it, are everywhere these days.
This is a classy estate. Volvo has beefed up the appearance with some purposeful pieces of plastic trim but on the latest models, it’s all done to good effect.
Perfect for the Boxing Day sales or the Boxing Day hunt, the XC70 is an understated winner.
Did you ever drive a Citroen 2CV? What about an original Mini? What made both special is that each sported a classless image – you could get away with driving either car whether you were a chic interior designer, or a an everyday Joe.
Cars like that are few and far between these days. The Citroen 2CV was killed off decades ago, while the latest MINI (you have to write that in capitals or BMW get upset!) has been botoxed to imperfection and now costs quite silly money.
Volvo estates never had a cool image – they have always been regarded as country loadluggers for two Labradors and a stash of antiques. I live near Stow-on-the-Wold, so I should know.
But there’s something quite pleasurable about driving a vehicle that seems to cause no threat to anyway and doesn’t make a statement about who you are. It’s not about being bland or blending in with the crowd either.
The big Volvo came of age some time ago. It may not have the sexy badge of a German brand but it’s now quietly confident and understated. Perhaps like you?