Lifestyle

The luxury of time

It takes less than two hours to fly from San Francisco to Los Angeles, but instead we’re driving between these two cities in the Volvo XC90, the perfect car for indulging in the luxury of the journey.

WORDS IAN DICKSON PHOTOGRAPHY SAM CHRISTMAS

Journey’s start: driving the iconic streets of San Francisco in the XC90, Volvo Cars’ premium city SUV

Consider this time well spent

After closing the door of the Volvo XC90, the hustle and bustle of San Francisco immediately fades into the background. This is my sanctuary, a place of calm seclusion that contrasts with the energy and intensity of the city outside.

Magic moments, enhanced by the XC90

Further south the landscape becomes even more magical. The road now tracks alongside the ocean giving a panoramic view for miles, a scenery of cliffs, waves and hidden sandy coves. Every turn in the road reveals another stunning vista and the journey towards and beyond Big Sur is punctuated with regular stops to soak in the view.

With my driving companion scanning the onboard Wikipedia app, we continue to head south looking out for some of this area’s most famous sights and landmarks.

As the route shifts from rollercoaster-like bends that snake around cliff faces to roads that flow effortlessly across the landscape, there is ample opportunity to enjoy the scenery from the luxury of a cabin suffused with natural light.

After an overnight stop at the small and charming Avila Beach, a town close to the quirky college town of San Luis Obispo, the aftermath of a landslide forces a change of plan. We leave the coast and head inland, to an interstate highway that will take us straight to Los Angeles. I activate Pilot Assist and let the car help with some of the driving*, while I choose a suitably LA-centric soundtrack from Spotify.

Designed to impress and reward you

With so many highways connecting the sprawling Greater Los Angeles area, this city is often touted as the car capital of the world. And there is no better car to navigate its network of urban highways and boulevards in than the XC90, the premium city SUV in Volvo Cars’ XC range.

Traffic congestion is of course inevitable, but it gives me a chance to consult the onboard Yelp app in the XC90 to find a dinner recommendation for the evening. There’s something relaxing about taking a laid-back Californian attitude: arm on window to soak up the rays, favourite music on the Bowers & Wilkins sound system.

After several hours of highway driving, the XC90 proves its merit over such a long journey. Parked up outside a stylish boutique hotel, the paintwork sparkles in the bright Californian sun. Climbing out of the driver’s seat, I feel as fresh as when I started.

As my time with the XC90 nears its end, I reflect on our journey together. There’s a current trend for slow food and slow fashion. Taking the time to do things properly, to fully appreciate life’s little luxuries. It would be hard to describe our trip as slow travel when I’m in a car as powerful as the XC90, but as a place to unwind and enjoy the journey, it is unparalleled.

* Volvo Cars’ Pilot Assist technology supports the driver on limited-access highways, helping to maintain a set speed or distance to the car in front. Pilot Assist also gives gentle steering inputs to help you stay properly aligned in lane markings. As the driver, you are always responsible for the vehicle.