In the Thirteenth Century, Gwenllian, the baby daughter of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd – the last native Prince of Wales – was transported to a life of confinement at a Lincolnshire priory upon the orders of dastardly King Edward 1st after the death of her father in battle. In the interests of my daughter’s forthcoming book on the subject, DriveWrite planned a pilgrimage to learn more.
Gwenllian was placed in the now almost vanished Gilbertine Priory at the then remote village of Sempringham. She was held behind high walls until her death fifty-four years later. In committing her to a convent, Edward’s aim was not only to prevent her from marrying and having sons who might lay claim to the Principality of Wales, but also to hide her away, unknown to the outside world.To this day, she remains hidden away in deepest Lincolnshire. There is no direct route to the location and weary travellers must venture along the B1177 to the sleepy village of Pointon (try the Old Ship Inn) to find the spot adjacent to St Andrew’s Church out amongst the verdant fields. Clearly, the best way for us to achieve the journey was in the excellent Volvo XC60 you see in the images. There’s a specification at the bottom of the page.With its strong, flexible diesel engine it is the ideal car for hauling the family long distances especially when the route is afflicted by many roadworks and diversions. There’s plenty of space and practical touches and the leather interior is very comfortable. We achieved a very creditable 39 mpg over mixed driving from motorways to rough tracks.
The Volvo’s attention-grabbing looks stand out from the crowded SUV market and the modern functional design continues inside. Highlights include the floating centre console and the excellent TFT display. The seats, typically Volvo, are supremely comfortable. Rear seat passengers are well catered for too with ample space for the long of limb. Devices are taken care of by a couple of 12v sockets plus USB and Aux connectivity.The XC60 is available with either two or four-wheel drive, plus there’s the option of a new eight-speed automatic although our car had the standard six-speed manual. There’s also a line-up of four and five cylinder engines, either petrol or diesel, with the best of them being the new 181hp 2.0L Drive-E D4 diesel as fitted to our car.
For business users this new engine means that BIK drops to 19% at the time of writing with CO² at a lowly 117g/km. The downside is that this engine is not available with 4WD yet. With good weather we didn’t have the need for it and I reckon that a set of winter tyres will be sufficient for most users when winter returns, as it surely will.
The XC60 with 400Nm of torque available is a brisk performer and it pulls strongly and cruises quietly. Major roads are its forte. Out in the country lanes it doesn’t have the necessary to be the car for enthusiastic drivers and doesn’t take kindly to being chucked about. No hot hatch handling then but most owners will not give a fig about that as they sit back and enjoy the ride.
As you can see from the specification sheet below our car was absolutely bristling with extras and it would be easy to ramp the price up in the showroom.Being a Volvo many of them were about safety and, yes, as driver alerts they are effective and worthwhile. The only trouble is that they are a bit too keen to get involved and we regularly experienced bleeps as I, in the considered opinion of the XC60, allegedly transgressed. I don’t believe in indicating, for example, when on empty roads there is no-one to indicate at. Nevertheless, the lane-keeping mode kept on at me – until I switched it off.
Volvo’s new D4 engine suits the XC60 well. If you insist on 4WD then you’ll have to opt for the older 2.4L diesel engine. I found the manual ‘box slick and easy to use suiting the relaxed nature of the car. If you prefer, you can opt for the optional eight-speed automatic transmission although there’s a price penalty, obviously.
To give it the full title, the Volvo XC60 D4 SE Lux Nav, is a premium choice. As we found on our long distance pilgrimage to discover more about a long-lost daughter of Wales, it is a comfortable and relaxed drive and makes for a terrific family motor – especially when safety is paramount – or as a business cruiser. The old days of lack-lustre Ford ownership have long gone. Volvo is back to where it deserves to be.