Brand loyalty is hugely important to the car world. It helps to explain why your neighbours three doors down are probably on their fourth Mini – changing every few years just because they can, rather than need to.
But brand loyalty doesn’t just stem from the cars themselves (albeit that’s hugely important), but also from where you buy it from – the dealerships, or whatever fancy name they’re called these days.
It’s quite easy to become blinkered to just reviewing the cars, but ultimately the dealership and that experience will play just as important a role in securing a deal as the car will. As a species, we ultimately rely on trust, and when we don’t get that, we go elsewhere.
It’s why I was strangely excited when the service light came on on ‘my’ XC40 Recharge T5, as typically we don’t keep a long-termer long enough for it to need servicing. Though I didn’t actually get KM70 XKO until February this year, it was actually registered in October last year, and then ended up sitting in a compound for the next few months while Covid spooled up again.
I must admit I was quite surprised when the service light came on, even before it had reached 6,000 miles, though it doesn’t seem to have quite the same level of variable servicing as some other marques – requiring a service every 12 months or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first. So I was quick on the phone to my local dealer Ray Chapman Motors in Malton, North Yorkshire. It’s a dealer that’s well-known around here and helps to explain the impressive amount of Volvos about.
To my surprise, I was able to book the car in as soon as the following week and even received a useful courtesy call the day before to check all was on track. While I could have left the car, as they said it wouldn’t take too long I could just take my laptop with me and work from there, rather than faff about with being collected or arranging a courtesy car.
While not the grandest of buildings from the outside, the dealer is impressively well-appointed inside, being light and clean, with plenty of places to sit down, and a far cry from the often-acknowledged stressful environment where salesmen are trying to line up their next victim.
With the key left, I could just sit at a desk and get on with my job, albeit making use of the great coffee machine and while enjoying people-watching. It’s immediately obvious a lot of the people in there are regulars, having probably owned many Volvos over the years, while even on a mid-week afternoon, the showroom is impressively busy.
— Ted Welford (@TedWelford) September 30, 2021
After little over an hour of watching the world go by (sorry, I mean working), a technician from Ray Chapmans’ – who had already spoken earlier to me seeing if there were any issues with the car, which thankfully there haven’t been – came to say all was sorted. Everything was also explained to me, and as it was understood, a lot of what happens to new cars mainly affects just plugging the car into a computer and updating software that could potentially iron out any glitches, if there are any.
It is, without a doubt, the best experience I’ve ever had from a main dealer, and it’s worth mentioning that I went in as a ‘man on the street’, rather than knowing what I did for a living. There’s no VIP treatment, thankfully! Though the £252 price for a first service with no add-ons did seem quite steep, these are ‘premium’ cars and therefore attract ‘premium’ prices. It’s worth noting that the price should be almost fixed at any Volvo dealer, regardless of where you are in the country.
So with the XC40 having a clean bill of health – unsurprising for a car with such low mileage – and thankfully a valet while it was there (I usually like to keep it clean, but after doing 2,000 miles without a wash in the last month alone, it was starting to look a bit neglected), it’s once again all ripe and rosy with KM70 XKO.
While I’m not sure how much longer the XC40 will be in my possession, as Volvo tends to ask for the cars back at around 8,000 miles, I can safely say that I’m enjoying it more than ever…
Model: Volvo XC40
Base price: £25,855
Model as tested: Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in hybrid T5 FWD Inscription Pro
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid
Max speed: 112 mph
0-60mph: 7.0 seconds
Emissions: 47-57g/km CO2