What is the Volvo V60?
This is the estate car that hopes to banish forever the image of Volvo as a safe but boring family choice. The V60, which was launched in 2010 but updated in 2013, is the latest incarnation of the Swedish company’s load-luggers that were the default choice for British families in the 1980s. It is sleeker and more refined than those “boxy but good” predecessors; no longer does function trump form quite so obviously. And to reflect that, the V60 is known officially as a “sport wagon”, not an estate.
The latest V60 comes with a choice of petrol or diesel engines, the latter starting with the D2 producing 111bhp and going up to 212bhp for the family-in-a-hurry D5. All models come with a choice of five specifications: entry-level Business Edition, then SE, SE Lux, R-Design and top-of-the-range R-Design Lux. A plug-in hybrid version badged the D6 is also available, for a premium – prices start at £49,275.
Driving tested the V60 D4 SE, which will probably be the most popular among British customers. Despite the sleek design, it is the new four-cylinder bi-turbo engine that is perhaps the most compelling thing about the car. It produces a very respectable 178bhp and a sizeable helping of torque (295 lb ft), but it also manages to be one of the most economical and greenest on the market. Officially it will do 74.3mpg in mixed motoring and CO2 emissions are class-leading at 99g/km, meaning it just ducks into tax band A, and so attracts zero road tax.
On our test drive around the narrow coastal roads of Norfolk the fuel figure looked a little fanciful – mid-50mpg seemed more plausible – but once on faster A-roads, and at constant cruising speeds, the fuel gauge hardly appeared to move at all. Certainly compared with more fashionable SUVs, this estate will earn its keep in fuel savings alone.
Volvo claims that the new V60 offers sharper handling and a more performance-focused ride than previous versions and it does, up to a point. Tackling twisting B-roads is a joy, with the snappy six-speed gearbox working the engine well when you’re feeling sporty, and with lots of low-down diesel torque filling in when you aren’t.
As you might expect, there is a little turbo lag but generally the engine is both quiet refined and fun – not something that can be said of all diesels. The steering, though, can feel a little vague and perhaps because of the car’s sporting pretensions, the suspension set-up feels unnecessarily hard. It’s not ideal for long motorway cruises.
The interior is a pleasant place to be, although it isn’t quite on a par with the understated quality feel of rivals from Audi or BMW.
There’s reasonable space for adults in the back, and a 40/20/40-split rear bench that drops totally flat – handy if you want to ditch the children and indulge yourself at the garden centre. But, that fact notwithstanding, for a car that made its name as the ultimate family load-lugger, its boot is far too small at just 430 litres. The Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3-series Touring and Mercedes E-class estate can all carry more.
The one to buy
Volvo V60 D4 SE Start/Stop
£29,395 (correct at first publication)
178bhp @ 4250rpm
295lb ft @ 1750rpm
0-60mph in 7.2sec
Road tax band:
L 4635mm, W 1865mm, H 1484mm
Volvo V60 used car rivals for similar money