Review: Volvo V60 B4
If plug-in life isn’t for you, Volvo offers something less electrified - but no less electrifying.
What is it?
Volvo’s second-generation V60 was a huge improvement over the first model. It took the lessons Volvo learned from its larger V90 estate but put it all together in a leaner package to rival the likes of BMW’s 3 Series or the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Plenty to like. Relaxed attitude. – Leasing.com five-word review.
Now, with Volvo’s push for electrification in full flow, the engine line-up has been refreshed - and all models come with either plug-in hybrid or mild-hybrid power. The latter takes the place of the regular petrol and diesel models.
What’s it like to drive?
Volvo has three V60 mild-hybrid models. There’s an entry-level petrol badged as B3, and then a higher-powered petrol and a diesel - confusingly, both badged B4.
The two B4 models are the ones to go for, as they both offer a generous 197hp to make for pretty effortless performance in what is a relatively compact car. The diesel is our favourite - thanks to generous torque, it’ll go from 0-62mph in just 7.9 seconds but on a cruise can return over 50mpg.
It’s not a true performance diesel like BMW’s 340d, but it’s not intended to be, and the V60 excels at relaxed cruising. At speed it’s incredibly refined and comfortable, ironing out motorway imperfections and allowing you to enjoy fantastically comfortable seats and - if specified - the amazing Harman Kardon sound system.
The diesel is our favourite - thanks to generous torque, it’ll go from 0-62mph in just 7.9 seconds but on a cruise can return over 50mpg.
If you’d rather a sports saloon, Volvo would prefer you opt for one of its plug-in hybrid models instead, which offer remarkable acceleration. The mild-hybrid engine can’t return the same kind of huge fuel economy numbers but offers a claimed 50.4mpg and 145g/km of CO2.
The diesel engine’s generous torque and smooth (if a little dimwitted) eight-speed automatic gearbox make relaxed driving a cinch, though it’s relatively composed in the corners it doesn’t encourage ‘fun’ in the way the equivalent BMW does. It’s far closer aligned to the comfortable Mercedes-Benz C-Class in that respect.
What’s it like inside?
The V60 has an air of Scandinavian cool about its styling that’s very much echoed on the inside. The dashboard focuses around a large, 9.3-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen that controls most of the car’s major functions. The only other physical controls are a row of buttons underneath - including a large, knurled volume knob - and the start/stop and drive mode selector behind the gear lever.
It’s minimalist, superbly high-quality and a wonderful place to sit.
However, Volvo hasn’t advanced its technology much since it debuted on the V90 five years ago, and as a result, it feels a bit laggy and unintuitive compared to the best alternative systems. Certainly, the Volkswagen Passat, Jaguar XE and BMW 3 Series have clearer interfaces, with the benefit of a few more physical controls for commonly-used functions such as the climate control.
It’s reasonably spacious inside, with room for adults on the rear bench and a great 529-litre boot - that outstrips all of its main rivals and it’s square, unobstructed and very practical.
The same goes for the digital cockpit, which can be a little impenetrable and doesn’t have the high-resolution gloss of some rivals.
It’s reasonably spacious inside, with room for adults on the rear bench and a great 529-litre boot - that outstrips all of its main rivals and it’s square, unobstructed and very practical. The rear seats fold in a 40-20-40 split, giving plenty of flexibility when it comes to carrying longer loads.
What’s the verdict?
The Volvo V60 is a very good compact executive estate - it excels at long-distance cruising and has a standout interior. It’s not perfect, and some rivals offer more involving drives and more up-to-date technology, but there’s plenty to like about the Volvo’s relaxed attitude.
There’s plenty to like about the Volvo’s relaxed attitude.
The mild-hybrid engines are muscular and efficient, too, and make for a good alternative if you’re not able to plug in and charge up regularly as you would with an equivalent PHEV model.