From £32,8108
Plusher version of Volvo’s new estate has better refinement, but its manual gearbox seems at odds with its relaxed engine

What is it?

This is the car you picture when you close your eyes and think of Volvo. Or at least it used to be, before the company reinvented itself as one renowned for premium SUVs.

The new V60 is the brand’s attempt to reconnect with that core audience, combining the practicality of an estate with the effortless Scandi elegance established by the Volvo XC60 and Volvo XC90, with which it shares a platform.

It largely succeeds on that first point: this is the most spacious car in its class, with 529/1441 litres of boot space putting it ahead of both the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate and BMW 3 Series Touring.

As for whether it’s as striking as its high-riding rangemates, that’s more subjective. But we certainly think those sculpted lines and raked edges looks the part. We said as much when the V60 received a full Autocar road test earlier this year.

That car was in entry-level Momentum trim and equipped with an automatic gearbox. Here, we're trying out a more luxuriously equipped Inscription model. Our test car has the same transverse, front-mounted 187bhp four-cylinder diesel engine driving the front wheels, but through a six-speed manual gearbox instead of an automatic.

2 Volvo v60 2018 uk fd hero rear

What's it like?

This model is just as comfortable at a cruise as we’ve come to expect from Volvo’s premium estate but a little more engaging when driven with intent.

The V60’s automatic gearbox can be lethargic at times, refusing to hold onto gears as it prioritises fuel economy. There’s none of that here, with fast and smooth manual shifts - even if the gearstick itself it a little on the stubby side.

Of course, this being a turbodiesel, there’s little incentive to engage with the latter half of the rev range, as peak power has come and gone by the time you get there. The D4 engine is still potent enough, and no slower from 0-62mph than the automatic: both manage the sprint in 7.9sec. It’s refined, too, save for a bit of grumble at idle speeds.

The V60 still delivers a relaxed and refined ride, even if the 18in alloys of our Inscription model are slightly harsher than the 17in ones on entry-level Momentum cars. The long wheelbase provides stability in the corners, with ample grip and traction for day-to-day driving, but the light steering lacks the precision of more dynamic rivals such as the BMW 3 Series Touring.

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Manual shifts do little to change that, so this gearbox would perhaps make more sense mated to the upcoming T5 petrol engine instead of a diesel - although right now, Volvo’s order books list the T5 only attached to an automatic.

Few buyers are expected to drive their V60s in anger, and the calming effect of the minimal interior actively encourages a more sedate style of motoring. There's plenty of room for passengers front and rear to stretch their legs, with head room to match. The dashboard inlays are made from driftwood and the £1800 Xenium pack’s panoramic sunroof floods the interior with light.

The portrait 9.3in touchscreen is the centrepiece, with a straightforward user interface that’s as easy to navigate as your smartphone. It's not quite as all-encompassing as a Tesla's, but it's close enough to eliminate many buttons and dials from the centre console. The uprated Harman Kardon stereo system is worth every bit of the £825 it adds to the list price, too, although another £300 to add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto feels a little stingy.

A traditional instrument cluster makes way for digital dials that can display sat-nav directions and data from the Pilot Assist adaptive cruise control system, which uses radar for lane-keeping assistance. It’s a £1625 option that makes motorway journeys a breeze.

It’s only here that road noise really becomes noticeable, giving the equivalent Mercedes or Audi a slight edge.

20 Volvo v60 2018 uk fd tom morgan driving

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Should I buy one?

It depends how much stock you place in style and refinement, really. The Volvo V60 delivers large amounts of both, especially in Inscription trim, although it still can’t claim to be as dynamic as its rivals.

The manual gearbox restores a level of control that's missing from the automatic V60, which helps make for a more slightly engaging drive, but it feels at odds with the fairly sedate diesel engine. Those looking for excitement would still be better served by the likes of the 3 Series Touring.

But, of course, that would mean sacrificing some interior comfort. The V60 is unbeaten for rear storage, happily eats up motorway miles and is a pleasant a place to be inside as any of its rivals. And for a mid-size estate, those are definitely the attributes to be more concerned with.

Volvo V60 specification

Where County Durham, UK Price £44,085 On sale now Engine 1969cc, 4-cylinder, turbocharged diesel Power 187bhp at 4250rpm Torque 295lb ft at 1750-2500rpm Gearbox 6-speed manual Kerb weight 1648kg Top speed 137mph 0-62mph 7.9sec Fuel economy 62.9mpg CO2 119g/km Rivals Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate

21 Volvo v60 2018 uk fd cornering front

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Ski Kid 26 July 2018

way to much

no need for more comments

Will86 26 July 2018

Way too pricey

Even assuming that price is with a lot of options, with discounts a 330d M Sport Touring Auto can be had for under £33k, a 320d for under £30k. Whilst the 3 series is getting on a bit, that's a big price difference to justify.

Citytiger 26 July 2018

Will86 wrote:

Will86 wrote:

Even assuming that price is with a lot of options, with discounts a 330d M Sport Touring Auto can be had for under £33k, a 320d for under £30k. Whilst the 3 series is getting on a bit, that's a big price difference to justify.

Any car is cheaper with discounts, thats what discount means - cheaper. 

nicebiscuit 26 July 2018

What exactly does this do better than a Skoda Octavia Estate?

Its nice enough, but its not that capacious, not particularly quick and is it really THAT much nicer a place to spend time.

Can anyone explain why anyone should buy this rather than an Octavia, pocket the change and go on several nice holidays?

£45k is an awful lot of money and doesnt appear to buy you anything that special these days...