When is an automatic not an automatic…

Back in August I blogged about my long and ultimately unsuccessful time as a Mercedes-Benz owner, and ended by saying that I was about to hand back my company car and move to another brand.   Well I can now reveal that about 6 weeks ago, I took delivery of my shiny new Volvo S60.

Volvo S60 Red

As a company car driver (and having seen the governments plans to increase my bills each year) my mission was to select a family car that would actually reduce my existing tax bill, I also wanted a car that was available with an automatic gearbox.  Having looked at a range of cars from the usual popular company car brands, I selected the Volvo with a D2 Diesel engine and the Powershift gearbox.

The Powershift gearbox is a dual clutch semi-automatic that provides 6 gears, the basic idea is to provide the qualities of a traditional automatic with the lower emissions of a manual gearbox based car.

My initial experience of this gearbox (and the car in general) have been very positive … actually I am absolutely over the moon with the car (just trying to be typically English and reserved) 😉      I’ve found the gear changes to be both quiet and smooth, and despite the D2 engine being a 1.6 litre, acceleration has not been noticeably different from my Mercedes 2.2 litre car.

The one minor (and it is very minor) gripe is that unlike a true automatic gearbox, the Powershift behaves as a manual gearbox – in that even with Drive selected, on hills the car can slip back if your foot is taken off the brake pedal for more than a few seconds… I discovered that the car has a feature called HSA (Hill Start Assist) that allows a few seconds for the driver to move their foot from the brake to the accelerator pedal, which along with the stop/start engine features is taking a while to get used to.

Most of the journeys that my wife and I do in the car are either motorways (my usual 3am trek to London Heathrow to catch a flight to see a customer) or locally – mum’s taxi service tells you all you need to know 😉  The S60 is simply awesome on the motorway – its the most comfortable car I’ve ever had and both myself and my wife feel safe driving the Volvo (safety was also a factor in selecting the Volvo – as we have both had no fault accidents in the past few years).

I have my fingers crossed that my previous car ownership nightmare’s are over and that a new more reliable car now sits on my drive way – only time will tell.

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