UK CAR Reader Reviews: Volvo 340 GL 1400cc 1988 F Reg



When a good friend was forced by the US armed forces to move to California (what terrible luck eh?) and was told that he couldn’t take his beloved Volvo with him, he passed it on to me, which was either a sign of good friendship or a vindictive streak a mile wide, I have yet to decide, because the car and myself had very much a love/hate relationship.

The Volvo 340 is apparently styled after a bread van that has suffered a collision with a Sherman tank and is not the prettiest car in the world but as someone in a film put it, "They’re boxy but good" The trim level was quite good, with a very nice sunroof that opened fully, and a snazzy interior décor that was amazingly hard to keep clean.

The seats were comfortable but quite hard, and driving a long distance required stops to get the kinks out of your back. The pedals were very well situated and you never got that leg ache associated with far too many cars these days. Being a three door hatchback the rear leg room was marginal and not over generous.

So we have a fairly comfortable, average looking car so far, but what was it like to drive? I hear you ask, and this is where the love hate came in. I loved the fact that it stuck to the road like a treacle covered ferret and you always felt safe on bends, but I hated the fact that it lacked power steering and thus after a while driving you acquired arms like Popeye. A car of this weight NEEDS power steering. It was like trying to steer a bus, you really needed to put a lot of effort into it.

Performance wise it was a mixed bag as well, as it was amazingly reliable, apart from one incident it never let me down in 4 years and started every time. Maintenance was excellent and bar the usual wear and tear never needed surgery. Petrol consumption was another matter. It drank like a premier league footballer on a night out. It averaged about 14 to the gallon, which was awful for a small car. I have friends with the bigger engine model and they say that is much better so I can only put it down to under power for the weight.

As I said, the car only let me down once, and that was not really it’s fault but mine. Making a trip from Newcastle to Wales with a blown radiator was silly at best, and the poor car paid a heavy toll for it, having to be scrapped at the end of a very, very long trip.

So, while the Volvo isn’t going to win any design awards, it is reliable and you do get a very tangible feeling of safety in the extremely well built body. The mechanics are good and the trim level is fair.

So.. after all that…

They’re boxy… but good.


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