The Volvo XC40 was launched earlier this year but demand has already outstripped supply.
So in between customers calling into McGinley Motors for test drives in their demonstrators, we managed to get one of these cool new Volvos to ourselves for a morning to see if this new SUV was as good as the demand say it is.
I can’t help thinking about my friends Lance and Judy Ball and how they were ahead of their time when they first arrived in Letterkenny nearly 50 years ago.
They had with them the first Volvo I ever saw. They parked it in the Golden Grill car park. As a child, I loved memorising car number plates but their car with its English or Northern number plate always beat me.
I always thought Lance and Judy just came for the festival all them years ago and stayed on. They were the original free spirits, but their Swedish tank, back then the Volvo 122 contradicted their sense of easy going.
The Volvo was doing safety when a lot of other cars were not and in later years I learned that this was very important to Lance and Judy. A half a century on and Volvo seem to be taking a leaf out of Lance and Judy’s way and have become very cool with the latest offering in the Volvo range the XC40.
If the bigger sister the XC60 does posh, this new kid in town is still very posh but with a sense of fun about it.
We tested the all-wheel drive diesel version this week which comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox which by the way can also be driven manually changing the gears yourself.
The automatic gearbox does a far better job of it once you managed the double tap into drive, possibly a safety feature. You’ll soon realise when you drive any automatic for any length of time, there’s no point in having a dog and barking yourself.
Our Volvo had all the home comforts, and then some, as we headed off on a journey on one of the best weeks weather that Donegal has offered this year so far.
Down through Ramelton and on to Rathmullan and around Knockalla a spin this car was just like sitting in an executive section at a big game. Your driving but everything is so easy and simply with no fuss yet all the info you need was there for you to see.
The Saltpans and Chopin
As I headed out of Rathmullan names popped up on the satellite navigation system. Townlands like Castleshannon and Brownknowe registered either side of Ramelton and then the Saltpans popped up on the screen as I was tuning in the radio. On RTE Lyric FM as a piece by Chopin came crystal clear through the Harman/Kardon speakers system fitted to this Volvo. It was on the piano, in F minor apparently. The music lifted and dipped like the coast road ahead of me, It was like that moment in the Shawshank Redemption when they’re all in the yard listening to the song in amazement and at the same time, like me hadn’t a notion what there were listening to, but felt so free. Every so often the sound of the powerful five-cylinder diesel D4 engine would drift in over the airwaves as the eight-speed gearbox would change down as we started to climb the steepest part on Knockala.
Even this SUV sits high off the road it never felt in any way unstable and could be pushed around the many bends in comfort. If you ever sat in a Volvo you will all know how good the seats are. Ours were covered in hand-stitched soft leather and look more like the captain’s seat on a plane than the driver seat in a family car.
These Volvos start around €37,000 ex-delivery in petrol and diesel versions going right through the range to around €60,000. This Volvo still has all the safety feature we come to expect with this brand but this car and still feels very robust to the touch inside the car. The dash is all about the 8-inch multi-function touch screen which is nearly everything is operated from. In contrast alongside this technology is the most classic looking air vents that look like ornaments but work beautifully.
Our car even had a sunroof the length of the roof which opened at the front which we had opened for a while but this week it was far too hot to have it opened so we retreated to the comfort of the climate control and just sat on board, enjoyed the view and listened to the end of Fredric Chopin’s classic, as you do!
As I Said the central touch display looks after everything onboard this Volvo even your phone if you want to connect it, which I did much to my mistake as 5 missed calls popped up on the screen from Mc Ginley Motors looking to see when I was coming back with the car as more were in looking for it. Brilliant.
Finally a word of farewell to my friends Lance and Judy Ball who arrived in the town all them years ago in the Big Volvo and contributed so much to the music of the Folk Festival over the years, never forgetting them Morris Dancers. Recently Lance and Judy signed out at Upper Main St in Letterkenny at CT Balls Jewellers and have headed to stay with their family in England. Thanks for the great memories.