Wheels (Australia) - - GARAGE - FELIPE UBILLA

IT’S A WELL-DOC­U­MENTED fact that the crew at Wheels are avid fans of wag­ons. The now mostly ig­nored shape still gets us ex­cited when a man­u­fac­turer is brave enough to bring one out to Aus­tralia. And ex­cite­ment is ex­actly what we felt when Volvo of­fered the team a V60 for our garage.

The Scan­di­na­vian man­u­fac­turer’s re­cent track record speaks for it­self.

With back-to-back Wheels Car of the Year awards, the XC60 and XC40 have truly set the SUV bench­mark. It’s also left us with high ex­pec­ta­tions for the new V60, which re­cently launched in Aus­tralia.

In T5 In­scrip­tion guise, the V60 is pow­ered by the same 2.0-litre turbo found in the XC40, mak­ing 187kW and a healthy 350Nm that’s de­liv­ered to all four 18-inch, five-spoke wheels via the eight­speed adap­tive Geartronic ’box. There’s a lot of metal to shift around though, with the car weigh­ing in at 1797kg – in com­par­i­son, the Mercedes-Benz C300 Es­tate is al­most 200 kegs lighter.

The in­te­rior is clean, min­i­mal­is­tic and beau­ti­fully fin­ished, drip­ping with style and el­e­gance. There’s plenty of room in the front without com­pro­mis­ing rear pas­sen­ger legroom and com­fort. Volvo’s all-en­com­pass­ing por­trait in­fo­tain­ment screen rules the dash, and while I’m not a fan of sys­tems that con­tain ev­ery­thing (in­clud­ing the air-con con­trols) within, I’m keen to see how in­tu­itive Volvo’s sys­tem is to live with.

The driver’s seat­ing po­si­tion feels spot-on and for­ward vi­sion is good, com­pro­mised only by the large A-pil­lars.

Al­most ev­ery op­tion box copped a tick, in­clud­ing the Life­style pack ($3000) with panoramic roof, tinted rear win­dows and 600W 14-speaker Har­man Kar­don Pre­mium sound sys­tem, as well as the Lux­ury pack ($3500) with nappa leather in­te­rior, heated/ven­ti­lated/mas­sage front seats with power side sup­port, heated rear seats and steer­ing wheel. Fi­nally, the Ver­sa­til­ity pack ($1400), brings adap­tive

dampers, power fold­ing rear head­rests, gro­cery bag holder, and a 12v power out­let in the rear con­sole.

The only pack not ticked is the Pre­mium, which in­cludes the panoramic roof and tinted win­dows but also up­grades the sound sys­tem to an 1100W 15-speaker Bow­ers and Wilkins rig. Not a deal-breaker for me.

For years Volvo tried hard to dis­tance it­self from its daggy box-like forms that were syn­ony­mous with the brand but, in my view, that di­rec­tion failed to achieve an at­trac­tive look. The new de­sign lan­guage cur­rently in play is stun­ning – you’ll strug­gle to find a dud in the com­pany’s prod­uct port­fo­lio.

This is ev­i­dent in the V60. From the out­side, the shape looks like some­one sat on the XC60 clay model and moved on from there – al­though this is not a bad thing. The sharper body­lines and straighter side win­dow fa­cade are a huge im­prove­ment on the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion. The wheel­base has also been ex­tended by 100mm and shifted for­ward, re­duc­ing the over­hang at the front and slightly ex­tend­ing it at the rear.

Up front, the grille is wide and flat, flanked by head­lights fea­tur­ing the sig­na­ture Thor’s ham­mer, all com­bin­ing with lines to cre­ate a mus­cu­lar, al­most sin­is­ter stance. The rear is strik­ing, with the tail-lights climb­ing up the D-pil­lar. Dual ex­haust pipes and the tinted win­dows com­plete the look.

As I fin­ish writ­ing this up­date, the keys are be­ing torn out of my hands to take the V60 to Car of the Year. Can Volvo score the first-ever COTY hat­trick? Keep an eye out for the Fe­bru­ary is­sue to find out how it, and the S60 sedan, fared.

V60’s cargo space is a hefty 529 litres, ex­pand­ing to 1441 litres seats down. If that’s just not enough for you, there’s also stor­age space un­der the floor

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