Volvo V60 2018: Nobody can build an estate car like Volvo can
DESPITE its huge advances in recent years there’s no doubt that for many the name of Volvo is still synonymous with estate cars. Never mind the fact that the Chinese-owned Swedish brand now produces some of the best crossover 4x4s on the market in the form of the XC60 and XC90.
Which all bodes well for this new mid-range V60 which arrives in showrooms later this year.
It’s expected to be one of Volvo’s best-selling models in the UK and likely to account for a quarter of the premium compact estate market up against the likes of the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3-Series Touring and Mercedes C-Class.
Aside from that historical reputation Volvo’s more recent track record is pretty respectable.
We rate the V90 as one of the best large estate cars in that market, its UK sales remain solid and globally Volvo’s sales are up by an impressive 14.1 per cent.
This new V60 isn’t likely to change that either. Using the same family styling as its stablemates in the showroom, the V60 is longer and wider than before, though slightly lower.
It’s easily one of the best-looking cars on the market and we especially like the front and rear LED lights.
Initially the V60 will be available with a choice of two 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engines with 150bhp or 190bhp in the D3 and D4 models respectively.
There will also be a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol in the T5 with 250bhp. Historically, this will be the last all-new Volvo to be sold with a diesel engine too.
The V60’s sister car, the S60 saloon due at the end of this year, will only feature petrol and petrol-hybrid engines in its line-up.
Not that this V60 goes shortchanged, mind you. The D4 gets from 0 to 60mph in 7.9 seconds with a 136mph top speed and returns up to 64.0mpg average fuel economy while producing 117g/km emissions, all pretty respectable figures for a car at this level.
For the moment the V60 is also only available with front-wheel drive, although the T6 and T8 petrol-electric plug-in hybrids with 340bhp and 390bhp will join the range towards the end of the year along with all-wheel drive Cross Country and sportier R-Design models.
Volvo boasts about tuning the V60’s road manners for a more dynamic drive than before, a crucial aspect when buyers have the obvious crossover alternatives which certainly don’t fulfil that criteria.
Whether this new V60 manages that though is another matter. The D4 diesel has a rather heavy feel on the road and, without gear-change paddles behind the steering wheel, it’s certainly not the easiest of estate cars to drive with any element of verve.
That 190bhp on paper perhaps doesn’t automatically translate to the most involving of cars either. The engine can be slightly slow to react to inputs and while the V60 can be thrown into corners with a fair amount of enthusiasm, it’s not really a match for the likes of the A4 and 3-Series for their feedback.
Hopefully the forthcoming R-Design version may resolve that. Where the V60 does excel though is with faster cruising and on motorways, where that solid feel makes it comfortable and quiet and the engine’s lack of immediacy isn’t quite so crucial.
Here is where the Volvo feels very at home with little wind or road noise entering the cabin and refinement levels sustained to a very high standard.
This is far more of a natural home for the V60 and it actually feels little different to the larger V90, which is high praise indeed.
That refinement is echoed on board too with the V60’s exquisite interior.
We’ve long been of the opinion that Volvo’s design department is producing some of the best-looking car interiors at the moment and this is no different.
With a layout familiar to the rest of Volvo’s latest range, the central portrait-style upright screen dominates the dashboard and the lack of any need for additional buttons makes for a clean and simple interior.
Add that to the wide choice of gorgeous matt-finish wood and aluminium trim in the cabin and this is undoubtedly a very pleasant place in which to spend any time.
It’s comfortable too, with multi-adjustable seats and a height and reach adjustable steering wheel, meaning it’s easy to find a good driving position.
That lack of buttons or central controller can mean that the infotainment system can require more prodding of its menus to get to where you want but its iPad-style swipe-and-tap controls are fairly easy to get a grasp of – especially for those more regular, everyday settings.
Better yet, that interior is pretty accommodating too. The additional exterior length has translated well inside with easily enough head and legroom for even six-foot adults to sit behind one another.
Volvo claims a class leading boot as well, with 529 litres with the rear seats up and 1,441 litres with them lowered.
Although there is extra under-floor storage (something that is lost to the on-board batteries with the forthcoming plug-in hybrid T6 and T8 models) that boot is usefully shaped too.
That might sound an odd statement but with no impinging wheel arches, the boot is a good, boxy shape that family buyers are sure to find very useful on a daily basis.
A flip up divider is also present to stop your shopping rolling around on the way back from the supermarket, while all V60s get an electric tailgate as standard.
All these might sound petty but nobody buys an estate car by mistake and that everyday practicality is sure to win it plenty of fans.
And that, ultimately, is probably the most important part of this new Volvo V60 and why it is sure to be another showroom success for the Swedish firm.
While crossovers enjoy their current popularity, those buyers still after a traditional estate like this haven’t suddenly stopped requiring all those practical needs.
Yes, Volvo has expanded its horizons and its sales beyond those traditional load-luggers of old, but the reality is that nobody can build an estate car like Volvo can.
It may not be perfect in terms of its driver enjoyment but for the majority of buyers for the majority of their time, the breadth of this V60’s talents mean that it’s sure to be another success story for Volvo.
Model: Volvo V60
On sale: September
- Price range: £31,810-£40,670
- Engine range: Turbo-petrol – 2.0-litre; Turbo-diesel – 2.0, 2.0-litre 190bhp
- Power: 0 to 60mph in 7.9 seconds, 136mph top speed (2.0TD 190bhp)
- Average fuel economy: 64.2mpg (2.0TD)
- CO2 emissions range: 117-154g/km
- Rivals: Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class
- Rating: 9/10
Credit: NAT BARNES
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