The smug ambassador
It’s always a great indication of a good product if you can boast enthusiastic brand ambassadors amongst your customers. Volvo must be doing excellent work with its cars as I had the tremendous pleasure of being accosted by a very enthusiastic Volvo owner while driving the fantastic V40 T3 Excel just the other day.
The episode went something like this: I had just taken delivery of an eye-wateringly bright red Volvo V40 T3 and was on my way into town for some or other reason. Having always fobbed Volvos off as a little bit on the staid and boring side, I was revising my opinion as I drove and subsequently, was hyper aware of any similar cars to mine on the road.
So it was with some curiosity that I watched the antics of a Volvo V60 driver as he cruised past me, slowed down and hung about in the right lane. I indicated a left turn whereupon he slipped behind me and followed me to my destination. Slightly alarmed, I prepared to bolt when he stopped me, apologised for scaring me and asked whether he could please take a look at the V40.
What transpired was a conversation with a die-hard Volvo fan who extolled the virtues of his car and Volvo as a brand; which made me realise just what a winning recipe Volvo could be sitting on. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation:
Volvo’s safety standards. With an NCAP 5* rating, the V40 is one of the safest cars on the road. The clever chaps at Volvo manufacture each car with City Safety – which automatically applies the brakes at speeds of up to 50km/h (alleged on the V40) which we tested with much success up to 35km/h. It also includes a pedestrian airbag under the bonnet which inflates to minimise damage to car, passengers and pedestrians in the event of City Safety not kicking in. The car offers 6 airbags throughout, side impact control, impact tensioning seatbelts and ABS brakes.
Then there’s the new styling. The V40 hatchback is a decidedly fun and sporty looking Volvo. Its impressive styling and sleek lines with eye-catching features are a refreshing move away from my misperceptions of Volvo’s vehicles as staid and somewhat boring. I loved the fabulous red paintwork of the T3 which we tested and it drew an impressive crowd of admirers each day at the office. And there were more surprises inside the vehicle.
As the enthusiastic Volvo owner so correctly pointed out to me, Volvos are excellent value for money because you get so much more for your Rands than with many other motor manufacturers.
For instance, in the T3 we drove, the trendy avant-garde interior boasted mood lighting, moulded leather seats in front with electric seat adjustment. The central hangdown from the dash was a funky white with red stripes which complemented the car’s exterior colour – you also have the option to select your own design!
You could see further Swedish influence in the frameless rear-view mirror, illuminated gear-lever and trendy chromed swoops above the door handles. In fact, every time I climbed in to start driving the V40, a sense of smugness at my good fortune overcame me. I’m not surprised Volvo encourages a new crop of brand ambassadors with each new car sold.
That isn’t all. The back seats fold flat in a convenient 60/40 split, the car also has rear park assist, an auto dim function on the rear-view mirror, climate control and a multi-function steering wheel. The interior is roomy and seats 3 passengers behind in luxurious leather comfort. The turbo-charged 1.6 engine packs enough punch to ensure there can be no performance related gripes from my side and despite a week of mixed driving and commuting the 90km round trip to work each day, I still returned the car with a quarter left in the 62l tank – two thumbs up for fuel economy!
Seeing as I’ve just about convinced you to go and buy one, you may want to consider the various options. Volvo offers the T3 in 3 price/accessory brackets: The Essential (N$281 200), Excel (N$299 300) and Elite (N$313 200). All of them come with a maintenance plan of 100 000km or 5 years. Whichever one you choose though, be assured that you too will become a smug Volvo brand ambassador!
0-100m: 6.4s / 83.3km/h
0-200m: 10.1s / 102.9km/h
0-300m: 13.3s / 119.4km/h
0-400m: 16.1s / 132.2km/h
1/4mile: 16.2s @ 82.3mph (132.4km/h)
Climate Sunny, mild
Road Dry tarmac, level
Occupants Driver, no passengers
Fuel level 1/2