Volvo's middleweight estate now has form to go with function
The new Volvo V60 was unveiled last year with the entry-level Momentum and luxurious Inscription versions available from launch. But two other deviations have recently joined the ranks in the shape of the sporty R-Design and the all-wheel drive Cross Country models.
They represent two ends of the V60 spectrum – at one end the R-Design is a lower, stiffer model with a more performance-orientated approach, while at the other end the Cross Country possesses off-road capabilities and places an emphasis on comfort over speed.
Both share the SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform, as seen on the rest of the V60 models, and indeed all other 60 and 90 series Volvos. They also boast the same class-leading loadspace and a boot measuring 529 litres with the back seats up. The powered tailgate is a nice touch and standard on all V60s, while the boot is flat and easy to slide items into, plus there’s various storage and securing options to work with, all as you would expect with Volvo’s estate pedigree.
Other common ground between these two can be found in the cabin, where the rather large V60 puts its frame to good use and provides loads of legroom, both in the front and back, while all V60 models are given a 12.3-inch active driver’s display, rear parking sensors and the 9” Sensus touchscreen with sat-nav as standard. It’s a good system, with cool graphics and colourways to match the calming ambience of the V60’s interior. The only problem is that some settings require a few too many prods to find and make adjustments to.
Safety has always been a Volvo forte and it doesn’t come as a surprise to find the V60 has a five-star Euro NCAP rating. There’s also a raft of technologies on board as standard to protect occupants, namely front collision warning and autonomous braking with steering assistance, lane keeping assist and Run-off Road Protection, which tightens seatbelts and collapses a section in the front seats moments before an accident.
The cabin, then, is safe, generously equipped and generally brilliant. Very well put together, with premium materials that feel sumptuous to the touch, buttons and toggles all a pleasure to operate and seats that provide support and relaxation for mile after mile. But it’s in the seat where you can start to differentiate between these two versions.
We’ll start with the R-Design model, predicted to be the best-selling version and make up 40% of V60 sales. You’ll notice your seat bolsters are more pronounced and the R-Design chairs come with their own embossment in typical go-faster fashion. R-Design models also gain front parking sensors, gearshift paddles (with the auto ‘box) and, outside the vehicle, 18” diamond-cut alloys and gloss black detailing.
The sporty V60 sits 12mm lower than the regular car, with stiffer suspension and thicker anti-roll bars, resulting in a driving experience that feels tauter than the other models can serve up. Don’t think this is some track weapon, though, because the V60 in whatever guise is still a large, practical estate car.
Given its size and practical attributes, this is much more of a cruiser than some B-road basher. And that’s okay, because to cover miles in this thing is nothing but satisfying.
We tested the D4 engine with the six-speed manual gearbox. That means a 2.0-litre 187bhp diesel and a maximum 295lbf.ft of torque dished out from as low as 1,750rpm. It’s a hushed motor that is only really heard under hard acceleration at low speeds and quickly confirms to you that the 148bhp D3 engine would struggle in a car of this mass. We haven’t driven the 247bhp T5 petrol, but on paper at least, the D4 makes sense in terms of blending real-world performance with economy.
Our manual D4 is capable of a 7.9-second 0-62mph surge, yet can return between 47.9 and 55.4mpg on the WLTP cycle – not bad for a car with a kerb weight of 1,648kg. The V60 disguises its weight well on the road, however, remaining composed in any derivative, but the R-Design is just that little more agile.
There’s a positive nature to the steering that belies the V60’s proportions and it’s easy to get into a flow around the bends of the British countryside. It’s better to not try and wrestle the V60 and enjoy the supple ride and low-down performance of the diesel. The smooth ZF eight-speed auto is probably a better fit for the car as well. The manual ‘box isn’t bad, with a short throw given the V60’s dimensions, but it’s a little notchy and lacking in slickness.
The R-Design, like the Cross Country, is very well damped and keeps itself neatly in shape around corners to let you get into the groove of making swift progress. Place it in Dynamic mode and you’ll register the sharper throttle response and stiffened steering, but there’s no revolution to the driving experience. As a performance car, then, it doesn’t really work, but if you rightfully remember that this is a hefty estate car with immense practicality, you’ll be satisfied to settle with it being more of a GT package.
Which brings us onto the Cross Country model. On the road this all-wheel drive estate lofts about slightly more than its lowered brother, but it still possesses positive steering and a composed ride quality, whatever the surface.
And that’s where the Cross Country V60 really shines. Most won’t ever test its limits, but off-road the Cross Country can handle far more than you’d expect of what is essentially a raised estate. Sitting 66mm higher than the regular V60, the Cross Country can handle ruts deeper than you’d imagine, maintaining momentum throughout and even when you think there’s a risk of scraping a bumper, the ground clearance is sufficient to see you traverse most terrain.
There’s only one drivetrain set-up for the Cross Country, and that’s the D4 unit with the eight-speed auto – which is absolutely fine. It plays to the comforting aura of the CC V60 and ultimately means there are few things this vehicle can’t do.
It’s always there to help you out, such as when you’re off-road and providing you’ve selected the appropriate drive mode, Hill Descent Control will automatically intervene if you find yourself descending a tricky slope.
The V60 is a good all-round car, and thanks to the introduction of the R-Design and Cross Country models, you can have a V60 that is tailored more to your general needs. The R-Design starts from £35,410 and the Cross Country £38,270. Both can get expensive with options, but if you’re sensible with your ticking, then you’ll end up with a superbly practical estate that is good to drive, whatever the surface.