After my recent letter to Nissan about their craptastic 2014 Sentra, I received a telephone call from a gentleman named Gunther Luekenhoff. A public relations officer for an undisclosed automobile company, his employer wanted to smooth the abrasions and offer me a consolation of sorts.
It was a free loaner from a local rental place.
Figuring I would get something as delightful as another prematurely clapped out shitbox, I threw caution to the wind and showed up last Saturday. Walking past several appliance grade automobiles on my way to the office, I was greeted by K.T., a dark haired gentleman in his mid-30s.
“You must be the guy who was mad about his rental car. Gunther said to give you a good car. We have close to thirty cars in stock, but only two are worth a damn; a Lincoln Town Car and a Volvo wagon. Which do you want?” I found my choice rather odd yet invigorating.
It’s always more fun to try a new flavor of ice cream when somebody else is paying for it; besides, I have driven a whole pride of Panthers. Being handed the funky shaped keys, I walked out to the Volvo wagon.
Doing the walk around, I saw this. I did not know Volvo made such a beast, but nobody is perfect. A person could always pop that badge off if desired.
Getting in and adjusting everything, I was quite enthralled with my new surroundings. The seat is soft yet firm–an interesting combination. It is also the first seat in a long time that simultaneously hugged both my back and posterior. The lumbar support was quite robust as whomever had last driven the car had it adjusted to its maximum. It was like having a felt covered fist in the small of my back, an oddly delightful sensation.
Finding the sweet spot of steering wheel and seat was mind-blowingly simple. Even better, the telescopic steering wheel had a back and forth swath of what seemed like 18″ (0.5 meters). I could have tilted the seat back to a horizontal position and still had the wheel next to my sternum.
K.T. had referred to this V50 as being a unicorn of sorts; few of these were imported to the United States with even fewer having cloth covered heated seats.
With newer cars, I have developed a litmus test that tells me whether or not they are worthy of consideration. It is the console test.
While a console does indeed exist, it is as intrusive as the Easter Bunny at Christmas. This low level of intrusion demonstrates a behavior that is woefully absent in a plethora of other contemporary cars; that behavior is called “thought process”.
This Volvo passes the console test with great aplomb. Further, the wood toned radio control and HVAC tower is more of a curtain than a wall as it is possible to store items behind it.
The only concern at this point, due to it being unknown, is legroom for my rapidly growing offspring. As one who was routinely stuffed into the backseat of an ’83 Plymouth Reliant as a tall youngster, I do have great concern about the amount of rear seat room a car possesses. I do not want my progeny getting broken femurs from being too close to the front seat if in a wreck. Perhaps you think this extreme, but we all have priorities.
Another interesting facet of this little buggy is the five-cylinder engine. As one could expect, it was instantaneously 25% better than any four-banger as the inherent four-cylinder buzz bombery has been nullified by that extra piston. Like a six it is quite smooth and delivered is 168 horsepower with charismatic authority. Seemingly lackadaisical when used casually, it pulled like a locomotive when prompted. It was a strong, continuous gain of momentum with no drama and no neck-snapping suddenness.
The engine was an auditory delight. I have recently made comparisons of engine sounds to the uncomplimentary sounds associated with indigestion, nasal stuffiness, and Willie Nelson; this Volvo is simply on a higher plain emitting nothing but smooth and mellow. Listening to this five-cylinder was as delightful–and infectious–as that other melodious crooning of Swedish origin…
…Seventies supergroup ABBA. Maybe the Volvo was saying “take a chance on me”. Its auditory output was also mixed with an undertone of…
…the lower pitched voice of The Muppets’ Swedish Chef character thrown in for good measure (for the unfamiliar, he is seen preparing chicken in a basket here).
Intrigued, I later began to research similar wagons as any purchase will have to pass muster from Mrs. Jason (also known as M.A.R.I.E., the Marital Asset Reallocation and Investment Executive). Having agreement from M.A.R.I.E. is always crucial and does tend to make ones marital life more harmonious.
My ongoing automotive search has been fun if infuriating at times. All I can safely say is that neither Nissan nor Toyota are even on my radar; Volkswagen is quite heavy on my radar, and Volvo is an outlier in the realm of possibility. It should be settled sometime before 2019 or so.