Our cars: Volvo S60 - July
Week ending July 1
When was the last time you went out just for a drive?
No shopping to do, kids to drop off at school or meeting to get to: just a drive. With fuel at more than six quid a gallon and road closures an everyday fact of life, I’ll bet it was some while ago.
I got thinking about this when I was on a clogged-up motorway recently. The delights of a perfectly executed gearshift, lovely fluid steering or wonderful throttle sensitivity aren’t easy to exploit when you’re just picking your way through the traffic. We have to enjoy our cars in different ways. Take my Volvo. It isn’t the greatest thing to drive, to be honest. The self-centring effect on the steering is too strong and the front wheels feel as if they’re pulling in opposite directions (otherwise known as torque steer) if I try to accelerate too briskly.
A five-cylinder transversely mounted engine doesn’t exactly leave room in the wheelarches for a tight turning circle, either.
Yet there’s so much I love about the car. The simplistic yet stylish cabin looks great and is ergonomically perfect. The seats, stereo and climate control are superb, and help make life easier when you’re waiting for the jams to clear. I also really like the 2.0-litre diesel engine and six-speed manual gearbox, and the fact I can get 700 miles out of a tank on journeys out of town.
All things that deliver their own form of satisfaction.One engineer from a Volvo rival once told me that his team no longer asks customers how far they drive, but focuses instead on how long they spend in their cars, and develops new models accordingly. I understand just what he means.