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Volvo - For Beginners

Aug 30, 2008
We all know what Sweden's biggest brand is right? Here is a clue, it doesn't involve flat packed furniture and it's not even the Tetra Pak. Volvo is a big brand globally and is now owned by Ford. Unless you have grown up in some parallel universe where there are no cars you will have no doubt seen or been a passenger in a Volvo vehicle of some description even if it was a bus.

Despite it's successes in recent years Volvo has historically been something of a mystery to British car buyers. The Volvo estate has always been associated with antique dealers who could fit a grandfather clock in the back and also country folk seem to like the workhorse qualities of them. More recently the British motorway police have favoured the Volvo and can often be seen on TV shows writing off several 30k V70s in order to end a high speed pursuit involving a stolen Ford Escort worth well nothing really.

My parents were very keen on Volvos and I hate to admit it but they once owned a 340GL which I believe is the most hated car of Mr Jeremy Clarkson no less. I have just watched some footage on You Tube of him triumphantly destroying one in a crusher and boy has that man aged recently. I seem to recall my parents actually had a 340 hatchback and a saloon version as well. The thing is they weren't any trouble at all, apart from the styling which they insisted didn't bother them the cars were very reliable and they have driven Volvos ever since.

There was a magazine advert years ago featuring a 240 GLT and a Kawasaki Z250 and the headline was "Volvo 240 GLT - fast enough to beat it on the track- big enough to fit it in the back!" For some reason this has stuck in my mind probably because it was rather a strange comparison but in order to comply with advertising standards they had duly taken the trouble to publish the top speeds of the Volvo and the bike and more surprisingly they had manhandled this Kawasaki into the back of the Volvo to prove the claim.

A mind boggling array of models has followed since then. Including some really stylish cars, like the C80 coupe and remember the futuristic 480 with its indoor water feature and dodgy electrics! Thankfully that was sorted out but Volvo have always been prepared to experiment with new designs and technology, just remember the legendary P1800 which came out of the blue. This brings me around to the new C30 which again is a brave departure from the norm. Like Volvo's other concepts this looks to have been very well executed and the C30 sees the return of the all-glass tailgate which was first found on the P1800. The latest Volvo range also seems to be far more consolidated than before which must be the Ford influence coming into play.

Instead of countless models to choose from there are now just three saloons; the S40/S60 and S80. Two Estates the V50 and V70 then we move to the semi off-road XC60 and XC70 before ending up with the XC90. This is the largest of the range and is very well rated as a potential off-road vehicle when compared to similar offerings from Audi and VW. The stylish C30 and C70 CC finish off things nicely. Volvo has proved that they can produce stylishly designed cars when they want to but also can offer strong safe workhorses that just keep going long after others have given up.
About the Author
Jon Barlow gives an overview of Volvo and describes how they have consolidated their range. Full details can be obtained from Harratts Volvo
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