BACK IN the day Volvo estates were big boxy lumps that could swallow everything and the kitchen sink. Synonymous with Volvo, they were safe, dependable, comfortable. But not what you’d call desirable.
Volvo has undergone a huge transformation in recent years, turning out the likes of the big, stylish XC90 SUV and its smaller sibling, the XC40, that, well, just looks cool. Striking exterior design, Scandinavian minimalism on the inside and its usual quality throughout, Volvo is making genuinely alluring alternatives to the German mainstream SUV.
But Volvo hasn’t forgotten its estate car heritage and last year relaunched the new V60, the load-lugging version of the S60 saloon. The V60 combined all the things you’d expect in a Volvo estate — big boot, comfy seats, extensive safety kit — with much more aspirational qualities, such as stunning looks and cutting-edge technology.
The V60 has now been given Volvo’s “Cross Country” makeover, which means it sits 60mm higher than the standard estate and has charcoal wheel extensions and sill mouldings to make it look more rugged.
It’s not all show, however; as well as the extra ground clearance the V60 Cross Country comes with hill descent control and four-wheel drive, with a special electronically-controlled off-road mode when driving under 25mph, which optimises the engine speed, transmission and all-wheel-drive for slippery surfaces. So while it might not be the car in which to cross deserts, pulling a caravan across a muddy campsite without getting stuck shouldn’t be a problem.
For now, it only comes with a 190hp, twin-turbo 2-litre diesel engine (a 2-litre petrol is expected to join the line up later in 2019, and Volvo has committed to having a hybrid or pure-electric version of every new car launched from this year), but the oil-burner is ideal for hauling that caravan. The smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox makes for relaxing progress while the suspension, adapted from standard V60 to suit the more off-roady Cross Country, focuses more on comfort than sportiness.
The rest of the car is pretty much the same as the V60 estate, which is no bad thing. The interior, as mentioned, is minimalist Scandi-chic, with most physical buttons stripped away in favour of Volvo’s Sensus touchscreen infotainment system.
Its portrait style layout makes the touchscreen stand out from most of the competition but it’s trickier to use when driving than the fixed-wheel rotary dial you get in an Audi. Still, the big screen makes the V60’s cabin feel modern and it’s complemented by a crisp, clear digital instrument display behind the steering wheel.
It’s a bit of a shame that a leather interior is an option rather than standard on a car that costs the best part of nearly £40,000. Apart from that, the car is well equipped, with a good sound system, comfortable seats, an automatic tailgate and parking sensors.
Of course, there are a couple of option packs that catch the eye. The Intellisafe Pro pack (£1,625) comes with a host of innovative safety tech — part of the car maker’s pledge that no one will be killed in a new Volvo car by 2020. And the Xenium pack (£1,800) gets a 360-degree parking camera and a Park Assist function, which takes the stress out of parking.
The all-important boot can take up to 529 litres of stowage with the seats up, and that increases to 1,441 litres when you fold the rear seats down. All this means you should have plenty of room to pack your kit when you go skiing or whatever out-doorsy pursuits you follow that requires a plush 4×4 estate.
And that comes to the nub of this car. Estate cars aren’t as fashionable as SUVs these days, and a posh estate with SUV-style cladding and four-wheel-drive is a niche within a niche. If you want a premium estate car that is fairly capable off-road, then the Volvo V60 Cross Country is likely to tick most of your boxes. We reckon most people will still want an XC90, ’60 or ’40, though. And if you don’t need four-wheel drive, why look any further than the standard V60?
Volvo V60 Cross Country rivals
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