What is it?
Hoist the flags, sound the trumpets, it’s a Volvo that’s good to drive. Touring car hand John Cleland – he of 1990s Vauxhall fame – has helped fine-tune the new V60 on UK roads on behalf of Volvo and his experience shows. We’re testing the manual, 161bhp, 5-pot turbodiesel D3 SE model, which will be the biggest seller in the range.
What’s it like?
Like no other Volvo in recent times, the V60 breathes over our rutted tarmac and steers with fluidity and precision. It’s actually a Volvo you could imagine driving for fun. Mind you, that only applies to the V60 D3 on 17in wheels and 215/50 ZR17 rubber. The D5 fitted with optional (£775) 18in wheels that we tried displayed none of its subtlety. You have been warned.
Other aspects of the V60 are less impressive. The load bay (430 litres), for example, is small and only just bigger than the cheaper V50’s. And the German premium competition offers approximately 10 per cent more boot space. There’s a trade-off to be made here because the V60’s styling features a dramatically tapering rear roof line that marks it out as a very handsome estate indeed. But Volvo’s figures illustrate the compromise. A V50 has 717 litres on tap if you fill the load space to the roof and keep the rear seats up. A V60 has just 557 litres.
As a result, the Mondeo-based V60 is even outpointed by the V50 when the seats are folded down: 1307 litres versus 1241. Clearly, it’s not the sort of estate that you load up for a weekend camping at Le Mans or offer to drag a few spare slicks and a trolley jack off to Silverstone.
That’s why the V60 is officially a sports wagon and everyone in the company is on pain of death to avoid calling it an estate. The V60 does hold one serious ace over its key Audi rival, though. Thanks to its transverse engine arrangement, there’s plenty of space in the footwell and room to rest your clutch foot.
The integrated sat-nav screen, with modern graphics, is a big improvement on other Volvos’ and it is now positioned centrally in the dashboard centre, rather than popping up out of the fascia.
We’d like a few more flourishes in the cabin design, too. There’s no mistaking the quality of the main dash moulding and elegance of the trim, but the overall feeling is austere and the instrument pack – where every driver will focus his or her attention – really doesn’t shout £32k.
Should I buy one?
If you like the way the car drives and looks, and you don’t need the outright carrying capacity that most big estates offer, then you’ll enjoy owning the V60. But there are much better value and more practical wagons out there, so the compromises could well be too many and too significant for most.
Volvo V60 D3 SE Lux Premium
Price: £32,520; Top speed: 137mph; 0-60mph: 8.9sec; Economy: 51.4mpg (combined); CO2: 144g/km; Kerb weight: 1632kg; Engine: 5 cyls, 1984cc, turbodiesel; Power: 161bhp at 3000rpm; Torque: 295lb ft at 1400-2850rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual