I’ve had an interesting couple of months on the road test side of things. As you saw last month, we stretched the legs of an Aston Martin DBS, Caterham R500, Mitsubishi Evo X in Wales – all capable of hitting 60mph in under five seconds.
Then, a few weeks ago, as you’ve read on the previous pages, I had the pleasure of the company of a Continental GT – another sub-five second to 60mph car. Oh, and before RTotY 08 there was the Porsche 911 GT3, again a lunatic-fast car.
Now, I’m not telling you this so you send me hate mail – I get enough of that already – it’s to show you just how lucky I was to get a speeding ticket in the car below! Yes, you read that right – lucky.
The way I see it, if I’d been snapped pretty much anywhere in Wales over the RTotY weekend I’d now be in a dark, dank jail cell with some hairy-arsed murderer calling me Jamesie – not sat looking at the Notice of Intended Prosecution from Bedfordshire Police in the comfort of my office.
Several times over the past few weeks I could have been the star of a very real Police, Camera Action sequence with Jamie-I-can’t-get-work-anywhere-else-Theakston patronisingly doing a voiceover.
I’m not trying to glamorise speeding – it doesn’t need it, you get the thrill yourself every time you get in a car, but what I am saying is I got a little complacent, and thank the Lord it was in this sensible Volvo.
It was because I was in the XC90 that I was taking it easy cruising along at a sensible speed in complete comfort. Heading up the A1 – a road I’ve never used before – there is a section that swaps from 50mph to 60mph and from 70mph to 60mph all over the place.
Confusing doesn’t come close. So there I was plodding along at 70mph when FLASH, bang, wallop what a picture – I’m screwed. Turns out I was in a 60mph and that camera purporting to be a lamppost has my ugly mug indelibly frozen on its electronic brain.
The ticket comes through and it’s 71mph in a 60mph. Fair cop. I was speeding. But if it had been the 70mph zone I thought it was then I was actually being a very good boy – and going by the past couple of weeks that is quite unusual indeed.
If it hadn’t been for the soothing, calming atmosphere of the Volvo, the comfy interior, the silky engine, I wouldn’t have been plodding along and that ticket might very well have been a ban.
The XC90 has been with us a while now and it’s a cracking 4×4, especially in this funky-looking R-Design mode. Unfortunately for my trip around the country to hand out last month’s Ewards, I booked in the 3.2-litre petrol model – a cracking unit; smooth, refined, powerful – and thirsty. Camel thirsty.
Like wallet-poundingly, Kuwaiti oil baron-pleasing thirsty. However, despite the drinking problem, the XC90 is still a superb distance car. Comfortable like all 4x4s should be, with chunky Fisher Price-style buttons, it was the perfect partner for a week on the road.
It’s an easy car to live with and in this R-Design spec quite sexy too. Did I really say that? A 4×4, sexy? Ok, perhaps not in the conventional sense, but if utilitarian does it for you, even after all these years, the XC90 can still push the right buttons.
by JAMES BAGGOTT