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Hitch your wagon


In the world of Volvo, the headline-grabber these days is the XC90. And rightly so. It's superb. Plus it's the current South African Car of the Year, among many, many other titles.

Now considering it's essentially a niche player, Volvo is extraordinarily generous in providing the press with test units. As a result, I've sampled most models - although not all derivatives, as  there are dozens. And as a result, I've realised that my own favourite Volvo is the V60 Cross Country.

Essentially this is a rugged-looking, high-riding version of the V60 estate, and as we all know, estates these days are chronically and unjustly unpopular in South Africa with buyers far preferring SUVs. This is wrong. Even the best SUVs are handicapped by the likes of a high centre of gravity, and for a daily car as well as one capable of incredibly swift point-to-point travel, I'd be inclined to choose one of these Volvos.

It rides some 66 m higher than the normal V60, plus it gets skid plates front and rear, side scuff plates, and fender extenders. Nice. The desirable turbodiesel version I used for a week has a five-cylinder 2.4-litre motor making 140 kW and 420 Nm from 1 500rpm. Enough to move it to 100 km/h in 8.9 seconds, and on to a top speed of 205 km/h. Power runs through a six-speed automatic box to all four wheels - making it surefooted in all conditions.

There's also the full suite of luxuries and active and passive safety equipment, and arguably the most comfortable seats in the business.

What I especially like about this car is that it rolls on high profile tyres. These enhance ride quality, reduce road noise and - important in our country of potholes - give added wheel protection. Yours for R545 106. Worth every rand if you want a consummately capable car able to make swift, unimpeded progress in all conditions and all weather while inspiring huge confidence.

Sometimes you really don't need an SUV - unless you're really, really going to be doing serious off-road work. And you don't need low-profile tyres - unless you're regularly going to be doing high-speed track work.

I love this car, with its understated Swedo-coolth. Or at least as much is I can love an inanimate object.

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