The DTW fleet gains a new entrant.
Humans: funny creatures with emotions, feelings and urges. What was the divining moment, the will to leap from a car I’ve known and enjoyed for nearly five years to one that could be respectfully called a Swedish Bentley? A feeling named ennui – my Octavia was perfectly fine – but that was then. Could it be vanity coming a’ calling, age related issues (knees, back) maybe, appealing to more sybaritic senses, or could it be boiled down to simply wanting a change?
Even with regular washing and polishing, the Škoda sparkle had waned. I’ve compared the feelings I underwent, for no-one forced this issue upon me, to that of a seasoned motor racing driver. Not necessarily a champion, but one in need of a new direction, a fresh challenge with an unfamiliar team, and, most importantly, a new steed. With change, different objectives could be sought out. The daily commute might remain constant but the excitement could be enhanced, surely?
The decision to change came swiftly, but to what badge would my allegiance fall? I most certainly didn’t want a smaller car. German offerings were out, which will surprise and probably annoy some friends but the decision was not purely made from DTW readings, more the Teutonic trio’s determined attempts to out-aggress one other.
Japanese considerations were twofold: Lexus? Ultra-reliable but some outré outward styling effects did for me. Infiniti? With a diminishing presence on European shores? Sayonara. The French always have a way with my heart strings, but Citroën (forgive me, DS…) have yet to tempt with their 9, whilst Peugeot’s 508 did initially (and continues to) attract with that fastback shape and frameless windows, but interior oddness sunk that ship.
Blighty’s wares then. Bentley would have required (those non-materialising) payments from the Nigerian prince. The West-Midlands crew… hmmm… Solihull’s finest were a distinct possibility for at least seven days. My price bracket however, could only cover the models slightly older than I would care for. Being a risk averse character, aches were felt over the lure of the L322, pain was experienced on researching running costs – it remains the only SUV considered.
The Leaping Cat, then. Well, the XE registered for all of a few seconds; somewhat bland, rather forgettable. The XJ was a possibility until my wife made a comment that “only thugs drive Jags.” Apologies to those more law abiding XJ steerers…
Leaving what exactly? No longer aspiring to Mladá Boleslav’s fare, The Blue Oval could only convince me to search elsewhere and where’s the nearest Maserati dealer for that Ghibli when you need a service or repair? Miles away. In reality, il Tridente was never a go-er.
Lo, we reach the lands of the midnight sun. Seeing as Norway and Finland have yet to bother the car market, and SAAB went deep South long ago, the Swedes began their push for supremacy. With my better half’s idea of an SUV quickly dispelled (we can afford one dear, but only if we eat beans on toast every other week), and lacking either dogs, fishing tackle or children (to say nothing of associated paraphernalia), to require an (admittedly, handsome) estate, the saloon (Koensigsegg are so passé…) was obviously the shape thus affixed in the crosshairs. To my surprise, my wife proved most amenable to the chosen steed.
First impressions count, and it took no time upon viewing the Thomas Ingenlath-supervised S90 to have me salivating. Barely seen in these purlieus, the synapses became invigorated over this Chinese built, Swedish designed (along with multinational inputs from Robin Page (interior), Maximilian Missoni (exterior), Christine Lindberg (digital stuff) along with Ebba Maria Thunberg, (materials and colours ), almost fastback with hints of coupé, saloon. Target finally acquired; now, to which version?
With the internet’s glut of information roundly ignored, I stuck to my gut instinct and teachings from the dim and distant past – get the best you can afford. Being old fashioned on car buying matters I dismissed the base models for no other reasons than better was available. But nor did I want the slightly more shouty, R-Design version. Inscription was the only way. Initial adjectives I found myself using regarding internet pictures were, in no particular order; sober, esteemed, luxurious, balanced, unpretentious, uncommon. A DTW kinda car.
An early morning trip to the local, closed dealership, skilfully avoiding the loop eared, grey haired chatterboxes (other descriptions of car salesmen are available) gleaned an idea of dimensions, trim specifics, available hues (Sigh…black or grey) and equipped with some DTW-sourced advice rattling round the cranium, my mind became set.
Forewarned being forearmed, I then set to finding an example I deemed worthy of my hard earned and harder saved shekels. With the trepidation of a 1980’s teenager asking for a girls number, dialogue was opened with a dealer in… Scotland. Yes, this risk averse half centurion decided to make matters even more interesting by looking at a car over 250 miles from home. Distance would normally be no problem, but in our Covid afflicted times, for one requiring a pit stop every fifty miles or so, requiring possible contact with hideous amounts of the great un-masked, a complete non-starter.
Fortunately, following many phone calls over several days leading to insomnia along with more teenage heart flutterings, I got not only the girls number but also the real deal. A car initially costing close to £46,000 when new three years ago was now mine for well less than half that amount. And I set foot in neither dealership nor car – no test drives, barring a nice video from the seller, bought unseen. To these eyes, that’s a result. Yes, some old fashioned cat and mouse shenanigans took place along with many missed calls from both parties, the downside to distance relationships. Technology, whilst helpful, is no substitute to getting up close and personal.
The brigands north of Hadrian’s wall then decided to prioritise a delivery of an XC90 to the Land of our Fathers; don’t get me wrong but as a Yorkshireman who adores Wales, nothing comes before Gods Own County, leaving my purchase floundering in the salty Scottish air. Let us silence those infernal bagpipes, sergeant.
In the grand scheme, these delays led to mild frustration but stronger feelings of anticipation. It’s not everyday one knocks up a half century as well as being driven to something, for a modern car, so ornate. With the final twist of having the Volvo delivered to the Scottish dealers’ owned Leeds-based Lamborghini outlet, the Škoda’s final trip proved most surreal; from a solid hatchback to a large, luxurious saloon, surrounded by Italian exotica. And the sun shone.
My trip home in the Luminous Sand Volvo was as serene as anticipated. The next instalment will cover initial thoughts on ownership. And waves – lots of waves.