Best bet from snow to whoa

Herald Sun - Motoring - - In The Garage - NEIL McDON­ALD

SOME cars are an ob­vi­ous choice for spe­cific tasks. So when it comes to ven­tur­ing to the snow, two brands stand out, Subaru and Volvo.

Visit just about any ski re­sort in Aus­tralia in win­ter and it looks like an all-wheel-drive con­ven­tion with Subaru, Volvo and big­ger lux­ury four-wheel drives.

But by far the most pop­u­lar snow cars are wag­ons with all-wheel drive. Real four-wheel-drive wag­ons, with low-range gear­ing, also pop­u­late the alpine ar­eas, but in most Aus­tralian snow con­di­tions all­wheel drive will suf­fice.

Volvo’s XC70 is not only the per­fect snow char­iot, it also sur­prises in sev­eral ar­eas.

The LE model we drove had some use­ful ad­di­tions, in­clud­ing the blindspot sys­tem, pow­er­ful bi-xenon head­lights and power tail­gate, part of the $6000 tech­nol­ogy pack.

The $3950 com­puter-con­trolled damp­ing sys­tem is a hefty op­tion and not re­ally worth the money.

What the XC70 is good at is haul­ing pas­sen­gers and their snow gear in leather-clad com­fort.

The 136kW/400Nm 2.4-litre D5 tur­bod­iesel is fru­gal enough but cer­tainly not class-lead­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the car’s com­puter we recorded 8.7 litres for 100km in mostly con­stant high­way driv­ing, not bad given the XC70 is a hefty car in the weight stakes.

Nor is it as quiet as some other diesels, the five-cylin­der giv­ing a dis­tinct me­chan­i­cal thrum.

As a long-dis­tance drive, the XC70 is per­fect for friends and fam­ily.

A tip. Fill up with alpine diesel close to the snow to avoid the reg­u­lar diesel turn­ing to gel in the freez­ing con­di­tions.

Snow mo­bile: (right) the Volvo XC70 is ideal for win­ter climbs and (be­low right) the de­light­ful Mini Cooper S.

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