Sunday 22 September 2019

The new V60: Maybe this is the car that shows Volvo can at least match the German giants

In focus: Volvo V60

Volvo V60
Volvo V60
Volvo V60 interior
Volvo V60

Cathal Doyle

Somewhat curiously in light of the announcement that Volvo will not be offering any diesel engines in its forthcoming new S60 saloon, your only choice (at least initially) is an oil-burner if you want to purchase the new V60, the estate version of the S60.

The V60 goes on sale in July with the option of 150PS D3 or 190PS D4 2-litre diesels.

It will be 2019 before T6 and T8 Twin Engine petrol hybrids become available, with a T5 petrol coming later.

That apparent mixed message is to do with the markets where the saloon and estate will sell well. In the S60's biggest markets - the US and China - Volvo does not sell any diesels.

Volvo V60 interior
Volvo V60 interior

On the other hand, a Volvo spokesperson told us the medium-sized wagon segment has a much higher share of diesel engines, so it makes sense to continue offering them in the V60.

With the S60 set to arrive in Ireland in the new year, how that lack of a diesel option in the saloon will impact on S60/V60 sales remains to be seen.

The outgoing saloon outsold the estate by four to one, with diesel accounting for 80pc of sales.

Perhaps it may give estate car sales here a much needed fillip.

Certainly the latest V60 is a car is worthy of serious consideration.

We've got used to Volvo turning out good looking cars in recent years, but the V60 is arguably the pick of the bunch. While it undoubtedly takes styling cues from the larger V90, it's possibly better proportioned overall, sitting low and wide, with strong belt lines and a distinctive front face giving it its own distinct identity.

Does Volvo now make the best interiors in the business?

The V60 certainly challenges the German premium brands in this respect.

From top to bottom it oozes quality, with tactile-friendly materials throughout and nicely weighted switchgear.

Unsurprisingly the V60 features many of the styling elements first seen in the XC90, with the large Sensus touchscreen interface still having a wow factor more than three years since it first appeared.

If the outgoing V60 broke with traditional Volvo estate values by having a surprisingly compact load area, the new model addresses this.

Despite having a stylishly raked rear window, Volvo tells us the 529-litre boot is more capacious than those from rivals Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Apparently it's also the only car in this segment that can fit four standing suitcases in a row.

Rear seat passenger space - another bugbear of the old car - has also been addressed, with decent head and leg room even with the front seats well regressed.

While fine-paved Spanish roads won't show up any major flaws in vehicle architecture, the V60 - based on the same SPA floorpan as all of Volvo's recent products apart from the smaller XC40 - will tick most boxes from a ride and handling perspective, especially if a comfortable and relaxed drive is the main priority.

It doesn't have the same taut turn-in and responsiveness as, say, a BMW 3 Series, but that's not the market it's aiming at.

If you do need to push on, it performs perfectly happily, but is at its best left in Comfort mode

Again with a nod to well-surfaced Spanish roads, the D4 2-litre diesel is exceptionally quiet on the move, barely perceptible at motorway speeds. In comparison, meanwhile, a 310PS T6 petrol, which won't be offered in Ireland, was more noisy under acceleration and didn't feel an awful lot faster.

Offered in two trims at launch - Momentum and Inscription, with R-Design trim following at the end of the year - prices for the V60 start from €40,750 for the D3 Momentum.

All models get Volvo's City Safety, a power tailgate, leather seats and the 12.3ins Activ TGT crystal drivers display.

Inscription models add Nappa perforated leather seats, parking assistance and power memory front seats amongst others.

Best in class? The V60 is certainly right up there.

It has been apparent for some time now, but Volvo isn't the coming brand in the premium sector - it has arrived with quite some panache.

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