1989 Volvo 340 DL 1.4 petrol from UK and Ireland
A cheap, reliable and safe family car
Slight water leak at 100,000.
Back brake drums extremely hard to get off at 120,000.
Heated Seats work intermittently.
Hatchback struts never worked.
95,000 - intermittent on the wiper stalk causes them to freeze in place.
The Cabin is a little dark, but very solid. However, it is spacious, and easy to get in and out of the beat seats in. It is very tough-wearing inside, and the seat-belts work well in a crash. The dash, whilst basic, is also well designed and avoids the large clunky lights, using instead a discrete line of coloured silhouettes across the top of the dash.
The car is nippy, and responsive. The RWD might catch some people out if they start pushing the car, or on slippery conditions, but the balance is excellent. Acceleration wise, it's roughly equal to a 1998 1.25 Zetec Fiesta upto around 70, and there's plenty of torque upto the 85-90 mph mark. Top speed, even at this age, is around 110mph. The engine is hugely torque, and has enabled me to tow cars before, including broken Golf's, Accord's, and on one occasion, a Vectra that was stuck in mud. Kicking the tail out is also possible, if you want it, even with a full load of passengers.
The car is very safe, especially in a front-or rear impact, speaking from personal experience. My previous 340 (an 86) has crashed into a nova saloon, and suffered no more than a damaged wing, and radiator, whilst twisting up the other car's chassis, a 6 week old Golf VR6 struck this one at about 50mph, and was a write-off, whilst the Volvo suffered slight bumper damage, with zero intrusion to the boot area. I'd rather be in this car than any plasticity heap of the last 10 years.
The seats are comfortable for long journeys, with adjustable lumbar support, and plenty of adjustment. The head restraints are of a semi-soft foam, but unmovable, being actual whiplash preventer's, rather than something to rest your head on. Everything is in easy reach, with little need to stretch for anything.
The load capacity is very large, a least the same as a Mondeo or Camry. With the back seat folded, a 1.5x1x0.5m load should be no problems.
This vehicle did everything I could ask of it, and handled everything I could throw at it. it was fast, roomy, comfortable (even to sleep in), warm in the winter, cool in the summer (although there was no a/c) Visibility is good all round, the brakes are big and solid, so getting out of potential accidents is relatively easy. In fact, if you didn't know it was a 'hodge-podge' car, you'd never guess (body by Volvo, engines and manual transmission by Renault, CVT automatic by DAF as well as the designs. There are days when I wish I had that car with me here in the US, instead of it sitting in the UK waiting for me, as the Civic and Ford Contour (Mondeo) together do the job that the Volvo does in one, whilst they are less satisfying to drive.
Of course, if its more performance you want, you should look at the 360 automatic. I drove one of those once, and it was blisteringly quick, as it was a CVT (step-less) automatic, rather than a traditional type.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 5th October, 2003