Who doesn’t love a bit of clever tech? That’s one reason why I’m already a big fan of ‘Stig’, our long-term Volvo XC60, now into its second month with us. I come from a techy family, steered by a father whose job was head of office equipment nationally for one of the biggest banks. He used to bring home samples of new machines he was considering buying, to try them out on his daughters. He reckoned that if we could work them satisfactorily, staff in the bank’s branches would cope alright with them. It was the start of my life-long love affair with technology and wanting to explore how things worked.
My dad has long since departed to the head office in the sky, but I wish he were still around to see some of the technology that comes with cars now, especially the Volvo ‘On Call’ app on my mobile phone. He’d be fascinated by it. It is informative in so many ways. For example, I needed to check the mileage to write this report, and would normally have to pop out to the car to read the figure. Not with ‘Stig’. There on the app is recorded the current mileage, along with so much else.
What’s the car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)? There it is on my phone. Its gross weight, fuel type, tank volume, remaining fuel range, current mpg? It’s all there. Did I remember to lock the car before I came indoors? The app tells me. If it’s unlocked, I can secure it remotely via the phone. What is the current temperature in the cabin? ‘On Call’ tells me that it’s 9 degrees.
My favourite feature is the navigation option. With most cars, you climb into the driving seat and sit there punching information into the screen to set the navigation before you depart. Not so with the Volvo. I can sit indoors, having breakfast ahead of a trip, and enter an address on the app. Then press send and know that when I go out to the car, the navigation system will have been remotely pre-set, primed and ready for the off. Alright, it only saves a few moments of your time that would otherwise be spent sitting on the driveway or parked outside in the road, but it is strangely satisfying to be able to get straight in and go with no more faffing about.
No worries about what to do in the event of a breakdown either. The app has a direct link to Volvo’s On Call emergency service. There is even a diagnostics link between the car and the app, so that a problem can be identified and reported ahead of help arriving. Oh, and the full owner’s manual is right there on your phone too. Handy that, when you want to quickly check something.
One thing I couldn’t solve via the app was how to sort a small issue that has occurred with the XC60 this month. The bonnet has thwarted my attempts to open it, and foxed Mr Editor too when I sought a second opinion. So it’s not a case of me being a weakling, there seems to be some reason why the release lever on the front passenger side won’t undo. That will necessitate a quick visit to the local Volvo dealer to resolve. I’ll report back on how that goes.
Date arrived 11th December 2019
Fuel economy 39.2-46.3mpg (WLTP combined) 37.6mpg (on test)
The shape and distinctive Thor’s hammer design of the headlights.
The boot cover has a tendency to stay up if you raise it to load the boot, getting annoyingly in the way when you glance in the rear view mirror prior to setting off.