First Drive Volvo V60 – Spacious, safe and Swedishly sexy
The new V60 is nearly as big as the late V70 and it inherits – if not improves – the comfort, connectivity and safety tech of the V90. Moreover, its pleasing proportions and tight surfaces make it the snazziest Swedish estate ever.
Practical estate cars are quintessentially Volvo. Few other carmakers can pride themselves on over six decades of experience in building family-oriented station wagons. Form always followed function in Gothenburg: sleek aesthetics and an engaging driving experience were no priorities.
That changed with the arrival of the 850 back in 1991, the late V70's predecessor. Because of the latter's existence, the first-generation V60 (2010) had the prerogative to put styling first, sacrificing otherwise deemed precious boot volume. It was an attractive TCO-friendly alternative to the Audi A4 Avant, the BMW 3 Series Touring and the Mercedes C-Class Estate. But it never really matched its German rivals in terms of sophistication, status and residual values.
(V60 + V70)/2 = V65
With the V70 having retired, the V60 had plenty of room to grow. And grown it has, in every single sense of the word.The new V60 has nothing in common with the 2010 model, except for some of its powertrains and its name. Its dimensions are much closer to the late V70 than to its predecessor, which is why from a logical point of view Volvo could have called it V65.
Longitudinally, the wheels are nearly 10 cm further apart, and transversely that’s 2.5 cm. The V60 can now swallow a class-leading 529 litres of cargo and even 1,364 litres when you fold the back seats down. Moreover, the loading bay is relatively wide and the sill sits conveniently low. Sitting in the rear is no punishment either. There is plenty of room for your lower limbs and head and you sit quite relaxed on the well-shaped bench.
The cabin of the V60 immediately reminds you of that of the XC60, with its vertical tablet in the centre console, hugged by the elongated air vents and the wing-shaped decorative insert running from the steering wheel all the way through to passenger door. The seats come straight from the V90, and that also means you can opt for the recommended, but not strictly necessary ventilated and massaging Luxury seats.
The large quarter windows make manoeuvring much easier, and so does the optional surround view parking camera. The V60 also benefits from the entire safety suite introduced by the V90, raising the benchmark to a very reassuring level. The advanced driver assistance systems help avoid accidents by actively braking and steering away from danger. The infotainment is easy to use. The Sensus’ map graphics could do with an update, though.
Nimbler and more refined
Compared to the V90, the new V60 feels more agile and light-footed. Even though it has grown considerably, it hasn't become heavier. Also, the weight is better distributed. We did not have a chance to punish the suspension with cobblestone or any other physical torture, but the new V60 felt at ease on the winding Catalan roads to the West of Tarragona. It is safe to say that never before Volvo has reached such a pleasing balance between handling and comfort.
The front-wheel drive 190-hp D4 engine gets on well with the 8-speed automatic, which is at its best when not rushed by a hyperkinetic right foot. The BMW 320d is still the benchmark in terms of performance, helped by a very alert gearbox, but this Volvo purveys a healthy dose of fun. We also tried the fleet-irrelevant T6 AWD, which sticks to the road regardless of the conditions and invites to a more active driving style.
The bottom line
The new V60 demonstrates once again that Volvo has emerged a true premium player. Not only will it appeal to existing customers, it will quite probably tickle the fancy of those who are used to seeing a three-pointed star, a white-and-blue stylised propeller or four rings on their steering wheel. It should come as no surprise that its sportiness is more aesthetic than intrinsic, though, and that the contrary is true as far as safety is concerned.
Some fleet owners might regret that there is no D2 model anymore. Moreover, the petrol and hybrid range have yet to democratize, with the T4 not coming before Q2 2019. The usual RV forecasters say Volvo is hitting the bull’s eye with their latest creation, which should help offset the price hike vis-à-vis the outgoing V60. Add to that reasonable NEDC 2.0 CO2 values and it is quite likely that Ingolstadt, München and Stuttgart will be watching jealously as the V60 nibbles away their D-segment market share.
- Interior space, boot volume, practicality
- Outstanding comfort: suspension, seats
- Look and feel on a par with the premium Germans
- Class-leading safety technology
- No entry level diesel (D2) anymore
- No entry-level hybrid or petrol models yet
- Sometimes slow 8-speed automatic
- Outdated map graphics