A stressful start
It was when we hit the traffic meltdown in West London that I realised I was driving a car with a distinct Jekyll and Hyde personality: a fabulous vehicle with a nervous-nelly computer system. It was like having Jenson Button under the bonnet while your faint-hearted maiden aunt spluttered warnings about everything from your speed to your driving style in your ear.
Some joker had decided that it would be a great idea to completely close the Hammersmith flyover – the main road leading out of the west of the capital – for repairs on a hot and busy Friday afternoon. Instantly, a great swathe of the city from Earls Court out along the Westway was transformed into a snarling, beeping car park – and we were heading straight for it.
Not, however, if our Volvo V60’s super-sophisticated on-board computer system had anything to do with it. ‘Recalculating route due to traffic – take next left,’ announced the on-board computer Sat-Nav in a sultry, slightly bossy, tone.
I followed her orders. But the back street route she chose was a hopeless gridlock. When I started making my own driving decisions, we rapidly fell out. ‘Recalculating, turn left, recalculating, do a u-turn…’ she snapped in quick succession. ‘Recalculating, turn right.’ ‘Give me a break!’ I snapped. ‘Make up your mind where we’re going.’ Two sets of amused eyes – Scarlett, 11, and Fin, 8, in plush, leather-covered comfort in the back – regarded me from the driving mirror. ‘You know she can’t hear you, right, Dad?’ Scarlett asked to Fin’s giggles. I chose not to dignify her question with an answer.
The increasingly strident – and conflicted – orders continued. And now a hypersensitive impact alarm began to bleep continuously too, every time I came within a foot of another car in the double-parked streets. I cracked and decided to take my own route. The Sat-Nav went into nervous breakdown mode. ‘Recalculating, turn left, recalculating, turn right…’ No combination of touch screen icons or buttons that I could discover would shut her up. Or even lower her volume. By the time, I’d weaved my way out of the mega-jam, I was sweating with frustration and stress.
That set the tone for our weekend trip to the lovely Lucknam Park hotel and spa, near Bath.
Volvo V60 Tech
The Volvo V60 is a beautiful beast to drive, smooth, fast, effortless to steer and park, with loads of space. The kids gave it a 9/10 for comfort, and my wife Jane and I were very happy with the roomy boot, infinitely adjustable seats and amazing climate control. But oh, that highly-strung computer…
The final straw was when ominous warning lights began flickering on the screen to say there was a tyre pressure problem, and refused to go off despite various stops at various garages to use air pumps. It was soon joined by another light insisting I was running out of petrol, even after I’d filled up. I learned later that I needed to find my way to a specific screen to tell the computer to recalibrate. Same story for the Sat-Nav and the impact alarm. But there is no way to discover these things intuitively. My verdict on this car would be: buy it for the pure driving pleasure (of which there is plenty).
Just be sure to book a full sit-down lesson on the in-car tech with the dealer. Or you’ll very soon find yourself stuck in a side street, shouting at an imaginary person who can’t hear what you’re saying, while any remaining respect that your kids have for you ebbs quietly away.
Volvo V60 D3 Details
Model: Volvo V60 D3 Geartronic R-Design Lux Nav
Top speed: 130mph
Fuel economy: up to 67.3mpg (Combined Cycle)
CO2 emissions: 111g/km
Prices: From £35,325 OTR