In the course of my job I drive a huge number of different cars and every time I climb aboard a Volvo those seats just envelop me like huge armchairs. What I don't understand is why so many other cars have seats that are anything between mediocre and just plain horrible.
As you've probably gathered by now, I am somewhat enamoured with the car on test here, the V70 Bi-Fuel. It is big, warm, safe, comfortable and has excellent environmental credentials too.
I found myself behind its wheel for a second spell just before it was returned to Volvo last week after the Mem Sahib pencilled in a trip to Ikea into the Gelken diary while I wasn't looking one day. A desk we had previously bought needed returning and the Volvo was the only vehicle on the fleet capable of carrying it. In addition to the acres of cargo space and comfy seats, there are a few other tricks up the V70's sleeve.
Those heated front seats are a Godsend (my partner never turns hers off!) and the CD player is of such fine quality that even the 250-mile round trip to Ikea seemed to pass in no time.
Mind you, there are one or two things I don't like about this car. For starters, the 2.4-litre petrol/LPG motor seems lazy in the extreme and doesn't give up its 140bhp easily. According to the spec sheets, the V70 should accelerate from 0-60mph in 10.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of 127mph but it feels a lot slower on the road.
Secondly, and more importantly, I'd have to take issue with the way the fuel tanks are split. The V70's petrol tank is smaller than on the ordinary model (29 litres as opposed to 70 litres) and the gas tank only holds 50 litres of LPG. Therefore, despite filling both tanks in Peterborough before leaving for Ikea in Birmingham, the LPG tank was empty by the time we got back.
This car may be OK for a low mileage driver but it means a busy rep would be filling up with LPG every day.
So as a final analysis, I'd have to commend Volvo for its commitment to greener motoring, but suggest that a bigger LPG tank should be offered in order for the car to be a serious contender in fleet terms.
Company car tax bill 2002 (40% taxpayer): £167 per month