What is it?
How predictable is the new Volvo V60, you wonder? It’s another great-looking Volvo estate, based on a big-Volvo platform, and it’ll go head-to-head with the BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate, blah, et cetera and so on: how close would we get if we had to phone in the verdict? Not that we would, obviously. Don’t send letters.
Here we are, though, with the fifth model based on Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA). With each new one comes with an increasing dose of familiarity. There's nothing wrong with that, mind you – they’re efficient, they’re elegant and, as Volvo discovers how to get the most out the hardware, each is a little better than the last.
It’s three years since Volvo launched the latest Volvo XC90, which was rapidly followed by the Volvo XC60, Volvo S90 and Volvo V90 (and the Volvo XC40, on a smaller platform). So it has been quite busy. Now the V60 estate, then, of which there’ll be an S60 saloon version in the summer, thus rounding out the big SPA range.
Is it the same story as the other SPA cars, then? Certainly in technical terms. The V60 has a mostly steel monocoque, double wishbones and coil springs at the front, an integral link with transverse, composite leaf spring at the rear and transverse front-mounted engines of nothing more than four cylinders or two litres, driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox. Two different plug-in hybrid versions will come later, as will four-wheel drive. So far, so Volvo.
For now, you can get 148bhp and 187bhp diesels (D3 and D4) and a 247bhp petrol (T5, automatic only), all available in Momentum, Momentum Pro, Inscription and Inscription Pro trim levels. So far, we’ve only driven the D4 Inscription auto, which is priced from £37,600 and officially capable of 69.2mpg, although on the 19in wheels of our test car, those figures increase by £550 and drop by 9.1mpg.
Volvo's consistency doesn't end there. Externally, the V60 could be nothing but a modern Volvo – which is fine. Better than fine, even. The 3 Series/C-Class/Audi A4 Avant class is for thrusting executives, so this “smallest and lightest” of the SPA cars, designer Lisa Reeves tells me, has been sculpted accordingly, with strong belt lines, extreme raked edges to lower grille, “determined, interlocked” headlights and horizontal accents lines to accentuate the car’s width.
“It’s not super muscly, but toned,” Reeves says, because Volvo doesn’t do aggression, per se. Perhaps that’s why, as CEO Håkan Samuelsson tells us, Volvo owners crash 50% less than the average driver and have a 50% better credit rating than average. Honestly, who does this kind of research?