First drive review: Volvo V60
A thoroughly modern update to the load-luggers of old, the Volvo V60 proves there's still a place for estates in the world thanks to its unique Swedish flair.
Wardrobe on wheels… big and boxy… mobile Ikea… blah blah blah. If you’ve not been impressed by Volvo’s renaissance since the XC90 appeared in 2015, then there’s a chance you’ll be swayed to change your views now. Stick with your stereotypes, and miss out on one of the finest cars to grace UK roads.
It’s even quieter and smoother than you’ll find in its German rivals, and unlike its rivals it’ll remain comfortable on every journey
The V60 is a brave car for Volvo to bring to market, as SUVs are bang on trend (something they excel at with the XC40, XC60 and XC90) while estate cars are, we’re told, out of fashion. The V60 is Volvo’s mid-sized model, best considered a rival for the BMW 3 Series Touring, Audi’s A4 Avant, or Mercedes’ C-Class estate, but Volvo brings a unique Swedish flair to the car to make it something entirely different.
It’s a sleek-looking machine, toned to perfection. From the ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlights to the dramatically upswept window line and the negative space around the doors, each combine to create something that stands out from the usual German triumvirate but without shouting too hard. It’s understated and confident.
Engine choices are varied but, despite the slump in diesel sales, most are likely to be the D3 or D4 diesel engine options. The larger numbered engine is a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit that produces a reasonable 190hp. It’s enough to get the Volvo to 62mph in 7.6 seconds and it feels lively enough when not trying to recreate drag strip runs. It’s a tad unrefined when under pressure, but settles down to a distant hum under normal use.
It’ll tackle a country road without any issue, although body roll will be more significant than you may be used to
It’s even quieter and smoother than you’ll find in its German rivals, and unlike its rivals it’ll remain comfortable on every journey. The reason is simple - Volvo has eschewed chasing Nurburgring lap records and track-biased handling, instead focussing on providing a comfortable and plush car to cruise along in. It’s a sensible move, as when was the last time you tried to lap Silverstone with two kids, a Labrador and a chest of drawers in the back of the car?
There’s loads of space behind the light driftwood trim, with uniquely comfortable seats and wind noise mysteriously kept at bay.
It’ll tackle a country road without any issue, although body roll will be more significant than you may be used to. However, it’s capable and holds on well, remaining composed until it’s pushed just too far. Even then, it remains comfortable.
The D4 engine works well here, the low-down torque making it easy to ignore the gears and just rely on that pulling power to accelerate out of slower corners. Drop down to the D3 engine and you lose 40hp and more importantly 80Nm of torque, leaving it feeling a little lethargic. It’s ok once on the motorway, where it will sit at 70ish all day, but you feel it could do with just a bit more poke. The uplift from the D3 to the D4 is minimal, and there’s no impact on economy, so it could be worth the spend.
Talking of economy, Volvo state an official figure of 62.9 mpg for the D4 variant. That’s optimistic, but it’ll manage mid-40s without a problem, and a decent sized fuel tank means the distance between stops can be significant.
It’s got a longer load bay than the XC60 and ultimate capacity ahead of any of its rivals.
All of this means you get more time to sit and enjoy the car, with its delightfully minimalist interior. There’s loads of space behind the light driftwood trim, with uniquely comfortable seats and wind noise mysteriously kept at bay. All the touchpoints feel great, the nine-inch infotainment touchscreen is impressive and comes with the option of both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay if you don’t like Volvo’s Sensus system. The optional £3,000 Bowers and Wilkins stereo can recreate the aura of the Gothenburg Concert Hall, but the standard system is good enough for listening to Ken Bruce.
Equipment levels are high too, with DAB, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, although there are countless option packs you can add to boost the button count and your monthly payments.
With a price starting at £32,410 for the D3 Momentum Manual, climbing north of £41k for a D4 or petrol T5 Inscription Pro with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, very strong residual values help keep leasing costs relatively low.
And if you’re wondering whether the V60 can still do the Volvo estate thing then yes, it can. It’s got a longer load bay than the XC60 and ultimate capacity ahead of any of its rivals. That said, there are some clever features in the German cars that the Volvo lacks – split-opening tailgate, powered parcel shelf, velcro dividers – but the Volvo fights back with a powered tailgate and the option of a net and hooks to tie everything down with.
It’s not the load lugger the cars of old were, but you’ll still be happy enough after a trip to your flat-packed furniture store of choice.