Captain Slow Charging
- Nov 26, 2007
- Atomic toaster
So! Last year, I took an office job that’s an hour’s drive away from home. I’ve been grinding that road in the hand-me-down W203 for half a year now, accumulating 20,000 km in that time. While the Benz is a good car that does a drive like that with no complaints, I’ve been wanting to get a more beat-up wagon that would use less fuel and would not feel like a waste to use up just driving to work and back. Logically, since the 2020 Finnmeet would eventually get arranged, I started looking into British used cars as those are known to be very cheap compared to what we get here, with nice variety.
My requirements were:
- Diesel (for the first time in my life I do enough driving to offset the yearly diesel tax even without registering the vehicle as a commercial van)
- Wagon or SUV for the ability to haul crap
- Preferably very frugal
- Cheap LHD headlight availability (gotta swap ‘em for the import)
- Good parts availability
This is what I got, with the expert help of Davetouch who drove the car here for the meet after buying it and servicing it. It’s a 2005 model year XC70 with the 2.4-litre, 163-horsepower Euro 3 D5 engine and six-speed manual gearbox, so it benefits from being a facelift model but does without DPF. It has a full tan leather interior for that essential Volvo wagon feel and all the convenience features I wanted – except for the fancy Xenons as those cost more to replace than the car will cost to tax here.
As for the AWD system in the car, it is a very advanced, fuel saving type that benefits from a 100/0 power delivery. This means the angle gear sleeve has probably eaten itself between now and when the car was new, and restoring power to all four wheels costs about the same as the car cost to buy now. However, even compared to market prices in the UK, this example was very affordable, so I will probably get a semi-local specialist to fit a remanufactured angle gear and also service the rest of the drivetrain. The only indication of the rear meats being dead is that the front ones spin. And thanks to the huge amounts of TORKUE they do like to spin.
On my drive to work the Volvo claims to get about 56 mpg UK, which translates to 5l/100km. In comparison, the Mercedes boasts 6,5l/100km in perfect conditions and 7,5l/100km in crappier ones. With diesel being somewhat cheaper than gasoline here, my rough estimate is that the car will pay for its initial purchase price in a year when yearly road tax is taken into account. Any repairs and upgrades are on top of that, as is the import tax. So far, the fuel needle drops very, very slowly.
Bullshit, but I'll believe it
On the road the car is pretty damn nice. Swapping sides naturally takes a little while to get used to, but the numbers tell me it’s worth the effort. Besides, with a few days behind the wheel I've already accustomed to it perfectly. The ride isn’t super cushy, but it never is on Volvos. But there are big car solidity benefits to be had, and on a particularly badly maintained section the Volvo feels far more sure-footed than the Mercedes, with no squirmyness. The engine pulls really well even in bigger gears and the gearbox is a pleasure to use.
There are some trim pieces I need to source, the paint job needs a little help and the headlights should be buffed. But the level of beatness is exactly right for what the car’s supposed to do: hauling crap around the countryside and getting me to work in comfort.