Tuesday 21st August 2018
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First drive: 2018 Volvo V60. Image by Volvo.

First drive: 2018 Volvo V60
Volvo’s new V60 estate is sensible underneath, sexy on top.

 



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2018 Volvo V60

4 4 4 4 4

The new Volvo V60 estate combines gorgeous styling with a roomy and well-made cabin - and the biggest boot in its class. Enough to put it ahead of its German rivals?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Volvo V60 D4 Inscription Automatic
Pricing: £37,860; range starts at £31,810
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door estate
CO2 emissions: 117g/km (VED band 111-130; £165 first year)
Combined economy: 64.2mpg
Top speed: 136mph
0-62mph: 7.9 seconds
Power: 190hp at 4,250rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750-2,500rpm
Boot space: 529 litres (seats up); 1,441 litres (seats down)

What's this?

You might be excused for mistaking the new Volvo V60 for its larger cousin, the V90. That's perhaps both not surprising (they do share a common chassis and components parts-bin) and probably deliberate on Volvo's part. The Swedish company has ambitions to take on the Big Three German premium car brands, and their successes have often been built on making a range of cars that looks very much like one another. Maybe that'll work for Volvo, too.

Whatever, this is a great looking car. You know a car is handsome when you can paint it in metallic beige (Volvo tries to call it 'Pepper Grey' but c'mon, it's beige) and it still looks achingly desirable. There's a faint kick-up in the shoulder line at the back, but otherwise this is precisely the V90's styling playbook, just smaller. The same indented grille, the 'Thor's Hammer' daytime running lamps, the sculpted sides, and the same C-shaped taillights that wrap around the rear glass. It's a stunner.

Inside, you'll find basically the same cabin as the XC60 SUV, which is no bad thing. Standard equipment includes the all-digital 12.3-inch instrument panel, plus the nine-inch tablet-style centre touchscreen, which is arguably the best in the game. The seats are superb (because of course they are, it's a Volvo) and quality levels are easily right up with the best that Audi and Mercedes can provide.

There's Pilot Assist, which is most certainly not an autonomous drive system, but which does take some of the strain out of long motorway journeys, and Volvo has also updated its emergency braking City Safety system. This, as well as slapping on the brakes should it detect that you're about to drive into the car in front, or run over a pedestrian, also now throws out an anchor if it detects another car driving head-on towards you and, like the XC60, has steering that can jerk you away from a potential collision. Euro NCAP hasn't, at the time of writing, tested the V60, but if it doesn't turn out to be one of the safest cars of all time, we'd be amazed.

Best of all, it's practical. Too many estates in this class put styling above load space, but despite the V60's physical attractiveness (we're shallow; so sue us) there's actually more room in the boot (529 litres with the seats up) than you'll find in any of its three major German competitors. In fact, there's only a little less than you'd find in the bigger V90.

How does it drive?

Quietly, pretty much sums it up. If you've been paying attention to recent headlines, you might have noticed that Volvo is giving up on diesel engines for the upcoming new S60 saloon, but the V60 keeps its DERV burners as the Swedes figure European drivers, especially fleet buyers, will still want a black-pump option. There is a basic 150hp D3 model, but our test car had the 190hp D4 engine and it's terrific. Sorry diesel-phobes, but that's just the truth of it.

It's not over-endowed with power nor torque (400Nm), but it feels pleasingly swift and should prove decently economical. Best of all, unless you're constantly wringing it out to the redline, it's quiet. The V60's cabin is an exceptionally refined location, which really takes the sting out of longer journeys.

The ride quality matches up with the engine. It's tuned more for comfort than precision and, although big expansion joints can upset it a bit, the V60 is basically relaxing and quite languid. The downside? The steering's a bit slow and the body a bit roll-y when you're pressing on and, even when you've got it switched to Dynamic mode, the gearbox is a bit too sluggish to respond when you're getting stuck into a twisty road. Perhaps, though, that's not the point; this is a car that majors on its boot space, its rear-seat legroom and its front-seat comfort. Would it be nice if it was as sharp to drive as a BMW 3 Series Touring? Yes, but then you might not have the comfort and refinement and, more often than not, that's what buyers want from a car like this.

You might think that the 310hp T6 turbocharged petrol version that we also tried out would be more aggressive, but it's not. It's faster (0-62mph in under six seconds) and the engine growls with a promised potency, but it has basically the same softly-softly chassis approach. Maybe the upcoming R-Design versions will inject a bit more sportiness into the V60 range, but to be honest it doesn't need such a thing. It's more than nice enough just as it is.

Verdict

The new Volvo V60 is about as sensible and safe a choice of car as you can make. It'll perform with equal aplomb if you're carting kids around, filling the boot at your local garden centre, or swishing up a raked gravel driveway to an expensive hotel. It's classy and upmarket, without the aggressive baggage of the German brands' images, and the knowledge that it's about as safe as a car can be will be of comfort to any parents buying one. It also looks terrific, has excellent refinement and comfort levels, so we can live with the slight lack of driving dynamism, such are the V60's other qualities.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Neil Briscoe - 22 May 2018









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