Best bet from snow to whoa
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.