I don't mess about. With the new driving licence safety stowed in the Melford purse, I fixed up a test drive in a Volvo XC60 without delay.
This was at the Volvo dealer in Brighton. The person I was talking to was the Sales Manager. He was extremely courteous, took a lot of trouble to answer my questions properly, and pushed nothing at me. For instance, I had to raise the subject of insurance myself, and we didn't discuss finance at all, except to confirm that when paying the balance a debit card would do for the entire amount. He clearly took it for granted that I was a cash buyer, and wouldn't need a loan. There you are, the Prada handbag said it all!
I liked the general setup. The place was modern, comfortable, well-lit, and nice to wait around in. It was busy too, and yet I wasn't left unattended and without coffee. I felt welcome. All good signs. Outside there was a Volvo ambulance waiting for its service. So vital vehicles like that came here? Another good sign.
I got to drive an XC60 with the specification I wanted - all wheel drive, the most powerful diesel engine, automatic transmission, the right trim and accessories. Having adjusted the seat, I sped away for a two-hour run on roads I knew thoroughly, so that I could make proper comparisons with my existing car, the old Honda CR-V.
The XC60 was a large car, but nevertheless easy to drive, and seemed very smooth and eager. The diesel engine had a nice growl when starting off, but became rather hushed when cruising along at fifty, and it seemed to get quieter as speed increased. Surely this wasn't really so? Well, all I can say is that it zapped down the overtaking lane at eighty with no effort at all, and yet I never went above 2,500rpm. The XC60 was leaving traffic well behind, even on uphill sections of the Brighton by-pass. It was funny how cars pulled in to let me go by. Of course, the headlamps were on, as they always are with Volvos (a legal requirement even in daytime in Sweden), and perhaps they thought I was an unmarked police car or something. Well, there must have been some good reason for my regal progress!
The leather seats were oh so comfortable, and my driving seat quickly moulded itself to the Melford bottom. I'd read reports that these seats were 'slippery'. What nonsense.
The ride was very good, and felt very safe. Larger 18 inch wheels were fitted, with lower-profile tyres around them. They had impeccable grip. But I thought that 17 inch wheels (with more sidewall to the tyre, and more flex when going over bumps) would definitely give me a softer ride. Even so, there was really nothing to complain about. The all-wheel drive was very reassuring. I was able to take corners faster than I could with the Honda, with never a hint of slip or instability.
I was highly amused by the satnav. It was obviously set up for a journey to somewhere that lay to the northwest from the dealer's premises. But my round trip soon veered off north, then east, then southeast, and clearly I wasn't playing the game right. Despite this, the calm, pleasant, rather cultured man's voice that was telling me when to turn remained friendly and unflappable. He never lost his rag, and never gave up. His English was really very good - not at all like your typical robot or dalek. I had to admire him. It would be interesting to listen to the female voice instead. Maybe they have a tranny voice too? It would be amusing to switch to another language - ah, a way to get some Swedish conversation practice! It was reassuring anyway that the satnav would always quickly recalculate my position and would not blow a fuse in despair.
So what was the outcome? After two hours Miss Melford and the XC60 were one, a perfect symbiotic driving combination. I'd enjoyed myself. Back with the Sales Manager, I asked my questions, we discussed the options, and he calculated the cost. I liked what I heard, and signed on the dotted line. No procrastination at all. They will even get my personal registration - SC10 CUR - set up on the car for me.
All I have to do now is wait. The car is not likely to arrive before April. Oh well, the balance of the purchase money can continue to earn interest then.
What shall I do tomorrow?