Cliched as it may sound, this is really a Vroom with a view!
The leather quality is top-notch, and the perfect driving position is easy to obtain with seats that cocoon you. But the rear is small, especially with a tall person in the front seat. It can get a little claustrophobic at the rear because of the way the roof peels back into the rear windscreen and bootlid. However, the same feeling of sitting in a smaller car helps boost confidence when driving the car, which is needed with a car this quick - it’s almost as if it converts itself from executive express to executive missile.
Fit and finish
The materials used are fantastic and can compare with the best in the world. Tactile feel and damping of the buttons and switches is perfect, and the stitching of the leather on the seats is many notches above an E-Class’s. The leather still smelt like new on our test car even though it had 4500km on the odo – this is extremely rare. We don’t know how it’ll feel in summer, but we aren’t unduly worried, what with the powerful four-zone climate-control system. There is metal in all the right places, and the carpeting is plush. Everything looks classy and there isn’t a single bit that looks or feels cheap.
We love the way the dials light up, they’re one of the best sets of dials we’ve ever seen. The white LCDs and ice-blue backlighting make you feel like the car has a single-minded purpose: go fast. The dashboard has got a wonderful sense of occasion. It may seem like there are too many buttons on the dash, but it isn’t cluttered, it’s functional. All lighting is with light, pale colours that don’t hurt the eye. It’s differently and nicely done – for example, the airflow controls are in the figure of a passenger; you merely press them to direct the airflow.
The car phone is a nice addition to the equipment; the handset nestled in the front armrest for the rear passengers is even nicer. Competitors like the E-Class don’t give you this feature as standard. The car phone doesn’t seem to be as effective as a normal mobile phone as far as reception is concerned, though. The microphone is powerful enough, and the noise cancellation is excellent. What makes it really useful is the fact that you can control all the phone’s functions from the steering wheel. DVD screens are present in the rear headrests to keep the kids happy, and headphones with individual volume controls for each of the rear passengers.
The glovebox is generous, and the door pockets are just big enough to be adequate but won’t hold anything big. There are pockets behind the front seats for papers and maps. The armrest console is big enough for CDs and miscellaneous items. There are enough cubbyholes below the centre console for phones, change and wallets. There is also a cooler that can hold a 1.5-litre bottle with ease between the rear seats, in the backrest. Useful to keep that bottle of champagne cool!
Boot space is almost non-existent because the full-sized spare wheel fills it up. Volvo has had to bung it in the boot because of ARAI laws that say a space-saver isn’t enough if the car isn’t shod with runflat tyres. However, the space saver is present in its space under the boot floor, so you can leave the full-sized spare in the garage and use all of the available boot space, and the space-saver if you ever have a flat. Even without the spare filling it up, boot space isn’t that great – it’ll swallow a couple of big bags, but beyond that it’s a tight fit.
The driving position and the way controls fall to hand are completely flawless. However, one does sit a little low for the size of the car, which might intimidate short drivers. The mirrors could’ve been a little larger considering our difficult traffic conditions, despite their outer edges possessing greater curvature to eliminate blind spots. The gear shifter is great to hold and is lovely in manual mode as well.
The front seats are great, and t he centre console m akes you feel like you’re in a cockpit, and that is certainly a good thing since this car does fly!It isn’t small, the inside, but it’s smaller than a Hyundai Sonata. For the price, a buyer will expect more space. An E-Class has enough space to stretch your legs out, but the Volvo doesn’t. There is enough head and sh oulder ro o m, but the legroom does not live up to expectations for a car in this class, but we’re not expecting some one to buy a V8 and sit in the back, so we aren’t going to complain about it.