Bloody Volvo drivers

Volvo XC90 2.5T

The medical profession has copped a lot of criticism in recent weeks concerning its relationship with pharmaceutical companies. There may be scientific evidence that says that I’m influenced by generous gifts, but I believe that my ethical boundaries are impenetrable and that I’m immune to feeling indebted to multi-nationals.

It’s just the same in my motoring job where offers of, “If there’s ever anything we can ever do for you?” from marketing managers would never interfere with my editorial independence.

To prove a point I’d like to tell you about the last car that I bought. It’s my partner’s car so I can assure you that the true identity of my own vehicle will never be revealed lest allegations of bias be bestowed upon me. I was so impressed with my 400 km road test of the Volvo XC90 in October 2003 that I went straight out and bought one for my spouse.

Even though XC90’s were in hot demand at the time I still managed to squeeze a $5,000 discount off the local Volvo dealer because of “our relationship”. Like every other car I’ve bought I’ve watched the price come down since my purchase. The XC90 now comes standard with seven seats, rear air-con and air-bags for the third row. These items were a $5,100 option when we took delivery of our vehicle.

After 45,000 km I’m pleased to say that just like a good pair of shoes it feels more comfortable every day. It’s never broken down, everything still works, it doesn’t have any rattles and it still looks almost brand new. That is apart from dis-coloured chrome strips and cloudy headlights even though it’s never been parked in the sun.

Volvo are very proud of their environmentally friendly components. Even the paint is water-based and doesn’t contain any solvents. The big Swede’s UV resistance might be a problem in the long term though.

Right from the very beginning I liked the solid feel of the Volvo and I know that women who drive this model also appreciate the fact that it just feels “safe”. That solid construction does mean though that the A-pillars are rather wide and do block forward vision more than most other cars. There is also a lot of solid construction underneath the skin and Volvo are very proud of the XC90’s boron-reinforced roof. They say it’s much stronger in a roll-over situation. I didn’t test out this feature myself, but I can tell you that the roll-over stability control will activate if you push it too much in a tight bend.

Performance from the 2.5 litre turbo engine is adequate rather than exhilarating, but it’s very smooth and has returned 14.7 l/100 km in mostly city driving.

Volvo has just released a 5 cylinder 2.4 litre diesel which has 136 kW of power @ 4,000 rpm and a hefty 400 Nm of torque @ 2,750 rpm. The diesel model also has a new 6 speed transmission and only costs $3,000 more. It has more torque and makes more sense than the thirsty twin-turbo T6 and the diesel returns 38 mpg on the highway.

Now that Volvo is owned by Ford I have found their after sales service is not as good as it used to be. One shouldn’t really need to argue about who put the greasy marks on the sun-visor after a trip to the workshop. My local Volvo dealer also services Land Rover which probably explains their unhelpful and dismissive attitude.

Volvo pride themselves on repeat business and they want their customers to make their next car a Volvo too. It’s the reliability of their vehicles that earns the loyalty of their customers, not cheap gimmicks or free food. A good product should be able to sell itself and even though doctors are not perfect, we’re also not fools.

Safe motoring,
Dr Clive Fraser

For: Reliable, solid, crashes well.

Against: Diesel engine makes more sense.

This car would suit: Medical spouses.

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    Medical Motoring is an online record of the articles written by Dr Clive Fraser and published in the Australian Medicine magazine by the Australian Medical Association.