Pantomime Horses : Just how good is the 1986 Volvo 360 GLT?
by Roderick Darndon-Dramb. Photography by Bart Chappel. From “Autocarriage & Performance Drivercar” (March 1986).
The advertising says this is the Volvo that thinks it’s a Porsche. Clearly Volvo wants us to see this car as the driver’s choice. The people at Volvo have lost their minds. The 360’s aerodynamics remain submerged below the bottom of the league. The exterior is reminiscent of the Seagram Building rather than an F-40 jet. This is not a Porker.
Even if the engine is turbocharged, it struggles to pull this portly carriage with any great enthusiasm. Worse, is that the engine is a cooperative unit shared with Renault, the F-series, which manages 80 bhp (60 kW) from its 1.7 litre OHC block . In case you’re wondering, that’s F for “Fuego.”
The 360’s a car that seems to land awkwardly between two stools set well apart.
On the one side, the typical 300-series customer is 60 plus and wants a car that will survive the occasional 13 mph parking crash at the Co-Op. They are not looking for the extra fuel consumption and higher insurance costs of the 360’s turbo fettling. On the other side, the typical sports saloon buyer is not really looking for the car equivalent of your granny in a jogging suit.
Turning to the undercarriage, we must ask is this the last passenger saloon available in the UK with a cart-spring rear axle? And of the steering we can say only truck drivers might be able to overlook its deadness. So we think the trendy paintwork and nailed-on body kit won’t lure so very many buyers from the competitors.
The interior of the car is fitted with the same orthopaedically adjusted seats that will help keep slipped discs from slipping any further. The dashboard is indeed resolutely square but it’s the quality of the materials that let it down. Ford, Vauxhall and Renault all offer cars with a better finish than this and we can’t help feeling that Volvo is trading on their name (as well as that of Porsche). The manual windows are especially amusing.
On the plus side (there has to be at least something good to say), the boot is commodious and the warranty is competitive guaranteeing years of reliable tedium. That said we can’t help being a little worried that Volvo imagines this kind of tarting up of your maiden aunt’s car is going to win any admirers, let alone customers.
The only customers we can really imagine for 360 GLT are 68 years olds having a very belated mid-life crisis.
We hear that Volvo is working on a replacement for this car and it can’t come soon enough.
[This transcript from A&PD monthly has turned up and deserves wider circulation, as it appears to be an intimation of the strident tones and robust exaggeration that came to characterise motoring journalism of the last two decades.]