25.7.2018Volvo V60 first drive
For many, Volvo is a name synonymous with estates, and the new V60 looks to reinforce that. The latest family wagon is likely to be a big seller for the Swedish firm, and will tackle the likes of BMW's 3-Series Touring, the Audi A4 Avant, and the Mercedes C-Class Estate. These are cars on which demands are high, with the V60 needing to be an engaging drive, frugal, comfortable, and practical in equal measure. We attended the UK launch to see how it fares.
Review by Chris Lilly
At launch, the V60 range is made up of two turbo diesels, and a turbocharged petrol - though further petrols and a PHEV model will come along further down the line. We'll focus here on the D4 Momentum manual, which uses Volvo's four cylinder diesel unit to produce 190hp and 400 Nm of torque. Performance times are identical for both six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic, with a 7.9 second 0-62mph time, and a top speed of 137mph. It's a gutsy engine, and will suit many drivers' needs easily. There's a less powerful 150hp D3 diesel available and sportier 250hp T5 petrol too. Although the D3 may well prove more popular with buyers, the D4 makes a good case for itself as a good all-rounder, with enough performance to make light work of fast roads and motorway cruising. The six-speed manual offers a good shift, but the gear stick is in the 'wrong' place. It's in the same spot as an automatic gear selector would be, which is fine for the auto since you rarely need to use it. However, the manual means moving your elbow further back than would be ideal, and it does impact the driving enjoyment a little. It's not a big thing, but I'd look at the automatic over the manual on this basis.
Like its larger sibling - the V90 - the V60's suspension has clearly been designed for a practical daily ride. It's comfortable rather than agile, supple rather than sharp - and that's no bad thing. I thought the V60 was well set-up from these early impressions, smoothing out all but the worst road imperfections, and it keeps body roll to a minimum. Drivers can easily get into a groove, with the Volvo flowing nicely from corner to corner. It's not going to keep up with a BMW 3-Series Touring on a track, but in the real-world, the extra pliancy from the springs would help a driver stay close. So dynamically speaking, it's not the best around, but it lacks a wallowiness that can creep in with a comfortable set-up. It's pitched just about perfectly in my view, allowing for a spirited driving style when the mood takes, but making sure you, any passengers, and even the dog in the boot are happy during normal driving. It's in built up areas where the worst bumps get transmitted into the cabin, but it's harsh to level this as a particular criticism at the V60 over its rivals, which often share a similar ethos. On open roads and on the motorway, the V60 is extremely composed.
I like Volvo's current design, and the V60 looks great. To be honest, that would probably do for this section, but to elaborate, the V60 is both stylish, and 'looks like a Volvo should'. It's the pick of the designs in the executive estate sector by my reckoning. Crucially in this class, load space is excellent, with 529 litres of space with the seats up, and 1,441 litres with the rear seats folded flat. It's the class leader for the first figure - most commonly used - but a little behind its rivals when looking at the latter. The rest of the cabin is as spacious as you would expect from hearing the load area statistics. The V60 will seat four adults comfortably, and a family with ease. Again, this being a Volvo, the seats are fantastic - relaxing yet supportive. Top marks all-round.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Anyone that has driven a Volvo in the past few years will feel immediately at home in the V60, since it shares many details with the likes of the XC60 SUV, and 90-Series models. This is good news as far as I'm concerned, since the Volvo interior is one of the best available. It's cleanly designed, stylish, and with enough little details to keep things interesting. Dominating the dash is the portrait Sensus touchscreen system, which is a good one. I find it easy to use, and it cleans up many of the buttons otherwise found on the centre console. I've said it before, but a portrait screen is by far the best configuration for navigation too. The driver gets digital instruments, which can't compete with those from Audi for example in terms of glamour, but do a good job nonetheless. The steering wheel is a good size, with relatively few buttons by today's standards. The whole cabin feels well built, with only surfaces lower down using harder plastics, to help resist knocks and bumps. The rest of the surfaces use some top quality materials, and the V60 is easy to spec with a light, airy interior.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The official economy figures for the D4 Momentum tested come in at 62.9 MPG on the combined cycle. Although this will rarely be achieved, the test route saw statistics in the mid-50's easily reached, and no doubt a long motorway run will see these get close to, or into, the 60's MPG. We've found these sort of returns with the D4 engine in larger models, so I'd expect something similar and, if anything, slightly better in the V60. The route took in a mixture of routes in Yorkshire, predominantly taking in A- and B-roads, with a stretch on the motorway before we headed into the North Yorkshire Moors. What we couldn't test was the Volvo's capabilities in city environments, but we fed the Volvo through a number of villages for a snapshot of life in built up areas. To tax, the V60 D4 will cost £205 for the first year - included in a car's OTR price - and then £140 for the standard rate after that. Although most models come in beneath the Premium Rate, some variants and/or options could take the cost over that £40,000 threshold.
A plug-in hybrid V60 will be available in the future, but until that happens, the range's eco credentials are down to the petrol and diesel models. The SPA architecture is lightweight, and the engines and transmissions have been designed with low-friction components, and to allow electrification going forward. All V60 models get engine stop/start technology, and drive mode select options include an Eco setting. This reduces throttle response and the drain auxiliary systems have on the engine. Those cars with an automatic transmission see gear changes tweaked too, for improved efficiency. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 42.
Volvo's model line-up is a relatively simple one, with Momentum at the bottom of a fork, and then the more luxurious Inscription in one direction and the sportier R-Design in the other. There are Pro versions of each trim to include additional kit as standard, making life easier for company car user choosers in particular. Standard across the range is the 9-inch Sensus touchscreen system with DAB, USB, and Bluetooth, 12.3-inch digital instruments, powered tailgate, cruise control, a suite of safety systems, voice controls, leather steering wheel, keyless start, and 17-inch alloys. Additions to the test can included the Winter Pack at £525 for heated front seats, windscreen, and wiper blades, plus headlight cleaning. Intellisafe Pro was also fitted, for driver assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, and auto-dimming mirrors for £1,725. The Xenium Pack (£2,000) added a powered sunroof, 360-degree surround view parking camera, and park assist. Alloys upgraded to 18-inch wheels, metallic paint, tinted rear windows, and smartphone integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto took the £32,550 OTR price to £39,275.
The V60 goes in straight towards the top of the class by my reckoning, and would likely be my pick of the lot if specified correctly. The D4 engine is well suited to the Volvo, though the driving experience is made better with the addition of the automatic gearbox. It's comfortable, good-to-drive, stylish, well appointed, and practical - everything you might want from a family car.
Model tested: Volvo V60 D4 Momentum
Body-style: Executive estate
Engine / CO2: 2.0 litre diesel / 119 g/km
Trim grades: Momentum, Momentum Pro, Inscription, Inscription Pro, R-Design, R-Design Pro
On-road price: From £31,810. Price as tested: £39,275
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars