Interested in a guaranteed discount on a new car, and maybe even having a free trip to Europe thrown in? Overseas delivery programs are available from six European manufacturers, each offering its own version of the same basic theme: Buy a car at your favorite dealer, pick it up in and drive around Europe, drop it off at one of the designated locations, return home and take final delivery of your freshly re-prepped new car at your local dealer.
There is a catch, of course, and one is that only Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Saab and Volvo offer the program. Besides slightly differing programs for each manufacturer, there may be a limitation on models for pick up in Europe—most notably vehicles produced in the United States, so don’t expect European delivery of an Alabama-built Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
Mercedes-Benz' program has been providing European delivery of its cars to U.S. customers for more than 40 years. Volvo's overseas delivery offer is among the most generous, as this Swedish manufacturer includes free roundtrip air for two and a night's stay at the Radisson in Gothenburg, Sweden.
How exactly does it work? We took a first-hand look, picking up and returning a sample Volvo in Munich (one of the manufacturer's 12 authorized locations). To be eligible for the Overseas Delivery Program, you must be at least 18 years old, be a U.S. resident and have both a valid driver's license and a passport.
Volvo offers an eight-percent discount off its sticker price for vehicles purchased through the overseas program, which is similar to the deal offered by Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Saab (though Porsche offers no markdown). This raises the issue of whether you can negotiate a better deal separately or as part of an overseas delivery package. The best advice is to at least give negotiation a try. If you plan on a driving vacation in Europe anyway, renting a decent car is very expensive, so along with the cost of airfare in the case of Volvo, taking European delivery can be both a fun adventure and a good financial deal.
Once you've selected your specific model and options—Volvo offers option package discounts as part of the Overseas Delivery Program as well—you fill out an order form, sign documents for temporary registration and hand over a deposit ($2,000 or 4,000, depending on model/trim). A couple of weeks after your order is accepted, Volvo provides an expected delivery date and full payment is due at your dealer 30 days before delivery.
Be sure to bring the payment receipt with you to Europe, because you won't be given the keys without proof you've purchased the vehicle.
In addition to the roundtrip air and hotel stay, included with Volvo's program is 15 days of insurance coverage, Swedish temporary registration, a factory tour plus a Swedish meatball lunch—assuming you pick up your car at the factory delivery center in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Besides Gothenburg, there are 11 other authorized cities where you can take delivery, including Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, Helsinki, Brussels, London, Geneva, Stockholm, Munich, Paris and Vienna. While pickup at the factory is free, there is an extra cost for these alternate locations, ranging from $585 in Stockholm to $1,040 for Vienna.
Dropping off your car for shipping back to the U.S. at a location other than Bremerhaven (Germany) or Gothenburg also incurs additional cost. There are 15 alternate sites, ranging in a drop-off charge of $130 for Hamburg to $717 for Geneva. Picking up and dropping off in Munich adds $1,050 to the cost of a new Volvo.
Keep in mind too that overseas delivery can be a lengthy process. You should initiate the purchase as long as four months before you want to take delivery, so early planning is essential. Once done with your European excursion, your car will be shipped to the U.S. , with a five to nine-week delivery time depending on where it's going.
Upon arrival in Europe, our Volvo S60 D5 was waiting as arranged at the Kempinski Airport Hotel, conveniently located between Terminals One and Two at the Munich International Airport. In Magic Blue Pearl with a tan leather interior, it was beautifully prepped, polished and had just a few hundred miles on the odometer; barely broken in.
The D5 is a front-wheel-drive, four-door, mid-sized sedan with a five-cylinder inline turbodiesel, offering 295 pound-feet of torque and 182 horsepower, mated to a six-speed "Geartronic" automanual transmission. While this particular engine isn't available in the U.S., the gorgeous S60 is, in four drivetrain configurations all using a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline five-cylinder gas engine. There's the 2.5T (208-hp) with or without all-wheel-drive, a 257-hp T5 model and the 300-hp R version.
Having previously driven them all, we can without hesitation say the D5, offered (for now) only in Europe, is by far the best combination of power and economy, though we're happy to recommend the S60 R's 300-horsepower engine or the plenty-peppy T5 until Volvo sees fit to bring its awesome diesel drivetrain to the U.S.
The diesel was impressive both for its quiet, smooth, linear power and superb 45-mpg fuel mileage, offering a cruising range well in excess of 500 highway miles.
While the only detraction of driving a very fast Volvo on Germany's unlimited speed Autobahn is not getting prompt "move-right" respect the car deserves when overtaking slower BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi drivers. In the U.S., brand snobbery is more subtle; in Germany, it's in evidence every time you drive fast on the highway.
In the S60, Volvo has created a graceful, sensual and the most attractively designed four-door on the road today. From every angle this Swede is elegant and poised, its gently sloping hood flowing into a smooth, rolled-shelf belt line that extends completely to the trunk hatch. A nearly vertical B-pillar neatly divides the car's front half—which is dominated by the sharply raked windshield—from the rear, where a perception of fender blisters adds an aggressive look.
Inside, you'll find an upscale, competent if somewhat cramped interior that's more comfortable carrying four passengers rather than its maximum of five. There's 13.9 cubic feet of trunk space—outstanding for this class—that's a bit awkward to access but easily accommodates vacation baggage for a family of four.
Even driven to triple-digit Autobahn speed, the S60 is quiet and smooth, although its suspension calibration is more suited to U.S. freeway speeds, with a touch too much chassis motion permitted. The very sporty S60 R has a ride that is much firmer, though at the cost casual driving comfort. Repeated hard braking from over 100 mph produced zero fade and was very confidence inspiring.
The S60 uphold Volvo's renowned commitment to occupant safety, offering standard side impact protection system with side impact airbags and inflatable curtains, a "Whiplash Protection" seating system, seat belts with pre-tensioners in all seating positions and dual-stage front airbags.
Introduced in 2001, the 2007 S60 receives the model's second light freshening, with new front grille and bumper design, updated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, standard stability traction control and a tire pressure monitoring system. The 2007 S60 2.5T starts out at $31,580, the T5 begins at $33,430 while the R edition comes in at $39,680 before options.
For more information on European delivery, visit the manufacturer's Web site:
Read iZoom.com's review of the Mercedes-Benz European Delivery program, too!