21 July 1995


In this months Country Car Andrew Faulkner drives a "pepped up" Volvo 940 while David Cousins shows restraint – well, almost – in Subarus musclebound Impreza Turbo 2000. We also compare two 1t pick-ups from the Orient

TURBO – five letters that suggest Thump, Urge, Roar, Blast and hold on tight… were Off.

Volvo drivers looking for such seat-sucking sensations from the 940 2.3LPT launched earlier this year, will be left sorely disappointed. Despite its blown 2.3-litre petrol unit, the car is certainly no 900-series match for its sizzling sibling – the 850 T5.

To be fair, that was not the intention. The low pressure turbocharger (LPT) fitted to the 940s familiar 2.3-litre motor, is designed to pep up performance rather than transform. And this it achieves.

Maximum power is up a modest 19hp from 116hp to 135hp, and maximum torque climbs 34lb ft to 170lb ft. More importantly, that increased torque doesnt peak until a lowly 2300rpm.

In everyday driving, the LPTs influence is subtle but there. Its low pressure setting means no turbo lag at the bottom end – just steady progress around the rev quadrant.

In most other respects the 940 is little changed. Unlike its big brother, the 960, it has not benefited from either a facelifting sleeker front end or rear suspension changes to the archaic live axle system. It retains that familiar boxy nose, and still corners like blancmange on wheels.

Ironically, it is these traditional Volvo estate quirks that maintain the 940s popularity. Common sense says buyers should either go for the more technically advanced front-wheel-drive 850 or the more up-market and recently revised 960. But they dont, and Volvo is understandably reluctant to drop the 940 while it still sells.

So why does it sell? In a sentence, because the car plays to its strengths which have been proven over time. These include armchair-like comfort for distance cruising, a reputation for safe motoring, and carrying capacity with which few others can compete – 75cu ft with rear seats folded. It is still regarded by many as the ultimate in family transport.

The verdict: Driving the 940LPT is like donning a favourite pair of well-worn old slippers. Its begun to look a little dated and technology has moved on, but it still feels like home. In the words of Dudley Moores Crazy People: "Boxy, but good."

&#8226 Model: Volvo 940LPT SE estate.

&#8226 Price: £18,625.

&#8226 Engine: 2.3-litre, turbocharged petrol.

&#8226 0-62mph: 10.3secs.

&#8226 Top speed: 118mph.

&#8226 Test fuel consumption: 26.7mpg.

&#8226 Insurance group: 14.

The now ageing Volvo 940SE Estate (£18,625) gets pepped up performance from a low pressure turbocharger.