Traditional estate meets cool Scandinavia
Volvoâ€™s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) has already delivered the XC90, XC60, S90, V90 and now the V60 estate, with the S60 saloon along in a minute. Itâ€™s been three years since Volvo started down this big-Volvo platform route, and each car has been met with critical acclaim. Can it replicate that yet again with the V60 or are we already getting SPA fatigue?
At first it just seems so consistently in line with the others. Front-wheel drive via an engine that wonâ€™t have more than four cylinders, feeding through a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto, with plug-in hybrids and four-wheel drive a little further down the line. But right now you can have a D3 or D4 diesel, which is 148bhp or 187bhp, and the T5, which is the petrol engine with 247bhp.
The exterior lines are wholesome and sharp, like someone whoâ€™s a great cross-country skier rather than someone who bulks up in the gym. Volvo itself describes the lines as â€˜not super muscly but tonedâ€™. That feeling continues when you open the doors.
Volvo V60 D4 Inscription auto
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Torque: 295lb ft
Gearbox: 8-spd automatic
Kerb weight: 1669kg
Top speed: 137mph
Fuel economy: 62.9mpg
Think clean shoreline with large, round grey pebbles, with the odd bit of sun-bleached driftwood and clear, luminous light. Itâ€™s a bit of a clichÃ©, but the cabin is very Scandinavian and not in an Ikea way. Itâ€™s also very, very well put together and there isnâ€™t any element that jars with that fit and healthy vibe.
The dashboard has a 9.3-inch portrait infotainment screen that has the necessary buttons with it that Tesla could usefully use. The large digital dials can all display a lot of info including sat nav. The front seats are big, supportive and endlessly comfortable. The design is flawless and shows just how far Volvo has come in recent years. For this money nobody does it better.
Rear passengers get masses of room while behind them the luggage area is the biggest in class at 529 litres â€“ or 1441 litres with the seats down. A useful conveyance perhaps for those Scots now doing booze runs south of the border.
On the move the 187bhp 2,0-litre diesel we tried was a touch grumbly at start up, but soon settled smoothly down. Naturally the eight-speed transmission wants you to get good fuel consumption, but this desire is a touch overdone, to the extent that the gearbox wonâ€™t shift down soon enough when you want to get a move on. There are no paddles, although you can use a more dynamic setting â€“ bet few owners will though.
So it is indeed like its recent predecessors. It handles very competently, and even has adjustable dampers â€“ again, few will bother. Start trying to make it handle like a BMW 3 Series estate or the Mercedes C-Class Estate and youâ€™ll find this latest Volvo a bit behind. But if thatâ€™s what youâ€™re after youâ€™d probably buy one of those two anyway.
The Volvo V60 offers you an alternative to that German counterpoint. The latest Swedish estate is cool and calm, fit and healthy, relaxed and confident. Most wonâ€™t ask it to go to the ragged edge and at every step below that youâ€™ll enjoy a supremely competent and practical estate car that shows even more sophistication at launch than the bigger XC90 managed just three years ago.
Weâ€™re certainly not tired of what this SPA package can deliver, and it could be argued this is the finest manifestation yet.