Volvo V60 D4 Inscription Pro £40,860
WE SAY: VOLVO STICKS
RESOLUTELY TO ITS USPs. AND WHY NOT?
Been watching some lovely old Volvo-estate promo films. In faded-Ektachrome colours, a safari-jacketed Swedish dad takes the extended family for a lakeside picnic in the PV444 Duett, American team-moms do the school run in 240s, and of course gundog-owning hearties and tweedcapped antique dealers fill their 760s. But the previous V60 wasn’t like that. It was a cute Focus-based ‘lifestyle wagon’. Chances of it swallowing a chest of drawers or a retriever: zero.
Well, the new V60 is a proper Volvo estate.
It’s 10cm longer in the wheelbase than before. At 4.8m long, it shades the Merc C-Class and
Audi A4 estates. That means oceans more rear-seat and boot room. Prices start at £31,550.
Volvo estate: let’s talk boot first. It’s as versatile as you’d hope. Hooks and lashing points lie around the edge, and more storage hides under the floor. An optional pack adds a flip-up divider, stretchy net, powered folding releases, and a mains socket. But there’s nowhere to store the boot-cover blind when you’re not using it. Duh.
Having shifted to Volvo’s big-car SPA platform, the V60 is a much more sophisticated car now. If you’re a spotter, the creases emphasising the arches have more of a sweep to them than in the V90. For the inside, the designers’ Scandi chill pill still hasn’t worn off. It’s all soft materials and colours in their characteristic furniture style.
And they still do terrific front seats. The stereo menu runs from good through great (Harman Kardon) to epic (Bowers & Wilkins).
The dash is, as always from these people, dominated by a big high-resolution screen. All versions have traffic-aware satnav. But the screen is called on to do slightly too many things. Menu logic is pretty intuitive, but it’s over-hierarchical. From the home screen it takes five finger jabs just to adjust the stereo’s treble. CarPlay and Android Auto are optional. Climate-control is also integrated into the screen, so even adjusting air distribution or temperature has you setting off into the menus.
Still, if the screen distracts you, the car will do its best to stop you crashing by deploying its vast range of active safety interventions. Volvo’s standard City Safety doesn’t just detect vehicles, people and cyclists. Its sensors are now calibrated to react to large animals (since few of our cities have roaming moose, know that it also works beyond town limits). And, in a first, it’ll also do the very quick calculations needed to recognise
the rapid closing speeds of a head-on collision and apply useful braking to soften, although not avoid, a ghastly crash.
It’s all 2.0-litre, 4cyl engines. For the UK we get two diesels (D3 and D4) and a 250bhp T5 petrol, all with FWD only. Air suspension is an option, but the cars we tested have the standard springs, with the £750 adaptive damping.
You’re not supposed to drive the V60 like your hair’s on fire. Not that it complains if you do – it’s actually very well composed when you press on. It contains its body roll well, there’s little understeer and the steering lets you place it with accuracy. But it doesn’t goad you on. There’s little of the engagement and interaction you’d get from a 3-Series or even a C-Class. It’s about the sort of predictable stability that all Volvos wear like an iron shield of invincibility.
You probably want to avoid the 150bhp D3 tune. Even the 180bhp D4 struggles on A-road overtakes. But it’s quiet – quieter than in the 90-series cars – and has a nice broad powerband. The eight-speed auto, optional in the diesels, is slow-witted and ham-fisted. I took control myself. For that there’s a plus-minus gate on the lever, but no paddles except in the R-Design version.
Relax. the V60’s ride is decently supple and quiet, if perhaps not quite a match for a C-Class’s unflustered consistency. It’s the best yet of these SPA Volvos because new engine mounts (to be rolled out to the bigger cars) control engine-shake over high-frequency corrugations more deftly.
On the motorway, you can (if you opt for it) be assisted by radar cruise and the steer-helping – but definitely hands-on – ‘Pilot Assist’ feature. It holds lanes more smoothly and tenaciously than when it was launched on the XC90. It’s trying to help you. Very Volvo. PAUL HORRELL
“You’re not supposed to drive the V60 like your hair’s on fire”V60 SPECIFICATION1969cc, 4cyl twin-turbo, FWD, 190bhp, 400Nm4.7L/100km, 125g/km CO 0–100kph in 7.9secs, 220kph 1730kgVERDICT: Lovely interior: roomy, useful, comfy – and ridiculously safe. But maybe you want a car that isn’t quite so relaxing.