What is it?
This is the svelte Volvo V60 estate fitted with the new, confusingly named T5 engine. Confusing only because it is in fact a 237bhp, 2.0-litre turbo’d four-cylinder petrol engine rather than a five cylinder as the name suggests and that has historically been represented by the T5 nomenclature up until now.
Here we’re testing the car with a six-speed manual gearbox, though a dual clutch auto is available for an extra £1485. The R-Design spec also brings with it a new, firmer set-up for the V60.
What’s it like?
It is a very pleasant way to travel. The interior is a real selling point provided you’re looking for aesthetics and not practicality, as you’ll see in our full road test. Though the R-Design trim does bring with it some style tweaks inside and out it only enhances the appealingly clean, modern lines, so that’s no bad thing.
The engine has its strengths in refinement and flexibility. In particular the broad torque band makes the V60 T5 feel eager and responsive wherever you are in the rev range, and the solid gearshift completes the overall sensation that this is a car intended to offer performance without drama.
That shortage of drama comes mainly from a subdued exhaust note, refined cabin and slightly sterile controls, and for many the understated nature of the T5 will be exactly what appeals most about it.
The R-Design chassis is less of a success. Riding on standard 18-inch wheels the ride quality can be quite unsettled over standard urban roads, with smaller frequency surface intrusions causing noticeable pitter-patter despite decent body control. Even on the motorway the V60 R-Design never quite seems to settle, and yet there is still none of the handling poise and reward that you might get from other premium estates.
It’s not in any way unpleasant if you want to drive with some vigour, it’s just that the V60 specialises in flowing nicely down the road rather than offering sharp, deft responses that you might get in other fast estates.
Should I buy one?
There’s a lot to like about the V60 T5. It’s refined and pleasant to spend time in, competitively priced and it feels refreshingly different from the norm. So if those elements hold appeal for you then it will make for rewarding transport.
But there are other cars out there from BMW and Ford that offer better ride, handling and cabin space. So you’d better like the subjective charms of this Volvo, because objectively it’s a difficult one to justify.
Volvo V60 T5 R Design Premium
Price: £30,925; Top speed: 143mph; 0-62mph: 7.5sec; Economy: 34.9mpg; CO2: 189g/km; Kerb weight: 1611kg; Engine type: 4cyl, 1999cc, turbocharged petrol; Power: 237bhp at 5500rpm; Torque: 236lb ft at 1800-5000rpm; Gearbox: 6spd manual