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The "I drove a thing" topic.

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Maymar

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Re: The "I drove a thing" topic.

PostTue Jul 29, 2014 7:43 pm

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So, a friend of mine got married this weekend, like 40 miles north of the middle of nowhere (and then proceeded to have the reception a half-hour west of that, and then a third stop even further west). It was going to be way too much time to spend with my wife in our decrepit air conditioning-less beater, especially since we were bringing another guest. Being only a few bucks more to book from National (and get my pick of car) over an Enterprise compact, I was all too happy to make the 20 minute bus ride to the airport to pick up a car. I assumed I'd end up with a Fusion (which I'm still interested to try out), maybe see if a new 200 was available (I know it's better than the abjectly terrible Avenger I had, but I'm curious as to how much), but when I got there, I see this S60 sitting in the sea of standard rental cars. Not exactly a difficult choice at $53 per day, all in.

It was a T5 - I could have sworn the key tag said it was a '14, but it clearly doesn't have the updated face, and it had about 30k kms on it anyhow. Clearly, I'm failing at journalistic thoroughness. That said, assuming it was a '13, it was a T5 Premier (the next trim above base), which mostly means sunroof and keyless start. No nav, no backup camera, no xenons, and the satellite radio subscription had expired. Also, the rash of Volvo safety options don't come at that price point (thick pillars, so blind spot monitoring would be nice) The more important part is the turbo I5 up front, and that so very Ikea-chic interior.

Now, spending hours a day in an ancient Hyundai sets a very low bar, but having spent 550km in the thing, the Volvo was a fantastic choice for the day. To start with, the air conditioning worked. This is always good.

But it was also adequately quiet, and rode rather smoothly (something commented on by my wife and our passenger). It's a little crashy over bumps, but regular road imperfections (of which there are many in rural Ontario) are soaked up, while five cylinders purr away unobtrusively. Now, as far as the seats go, they're good, but I don't know if I yet subscribe to the genius they supposedly are. I did the drive home without stopping and was starting to get a little squirmy partway thought (in their defence, there were no pressure points). Still, nice place to be for hours on end.

It felt a little ponderous in one particular corner on the highway, but other than that, it was a predictable, unobtrusive performer. The engine was lovely - great for backroads passing, getting from 80km/h to 120 rapidly, while still averaging 7.8l/100kms (assuming it was a legitimately full tank when I picked it up, it might be 8.4, but I'm going to trust the trip computer roughly). The only sign I noticed it was turbocharged was a bit of whine with the windows open.

My only complaint is that the radio controls are a little unintuitive (and I have enough experience with the things I can figure out how it works, it's just changing stations or bands often resulted in me going the wrong way).

I'd say I'm shocked it's not more successful as a solid, comfortable, relaxingly unobtrusive car seems like what a luxury car should be (and the softening of the 3-Series suggests I'm not entirely wrong). Just, as I had it, the S60 clocked in at around $42k, which is the exact same point as a C300, or a 328i, or an A4 with Quattro, and those seem to have been accepted as the right badge. Even the cruder, more abrasive (but faster and cheaper) G37 handily outsold it. But I'm glad Volvo is still around, and I did hit up Auto Trader for several hours Sunday, it certainly confirmed there's a reason I like the brand.
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