Volvo V60 Estate Review
The latest Volvo estate aims to continue the legacy Volvo have earnt over decades… But is it up to the task?
- Exceptional safety kit
- Best seats in the market
- Contemporary looks
- Somewhat understeer-y
- Not hugely economical
- Auto-box isn’t the best
Volvo continue their efforts to appeal to a younger audience with their latest V60 - a smoothed-off estate car with bags of safety kit, a pleasing interior and a wide range of engines to choose from. Will it be enough to steer owners away from the likes of the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 320d Touring? Read on to find out…
On the Road
There’s a good few engines to choose from with the V60, in petrol, hybrid and diesel form. Volvo anticipate that the Diesels will be more popular and, of these, the 187bhp D4 is the one to go for. This engine is willing, torque-y and is quite a good laugh to play around with using the wheel mounted gear-paddles (a £150 optional extra worth paying.) A 0-62mph time of just 7.7 seconds is also fairly potent in this segment - that’s half a second faster than the BMW 320d Touring.
The Hybrid is a tough one to suggest due to the fact it starts from £38,105 - that’s a lot. It’s worth mentioning that it is road tax exempt though and it’s no slouch either, the D6 hybrid will do 0-62mph in just 6.9 seconds.
The petrol model, badged the T4 has a little bit more power than the best diesel, 190bhp, but is less economical - although the manufacturer says 49mpg is achievable. We’d only recommend the petrol if you do under 10,000 miles a year.
The V60 understands that its primary role will be ploughing through motorway miles and transporting families, so dynamic, responsive steering isn’t really necessary. Fair enough - I wouldn’t buy a Volvo estate if I intended to carve up B-roads and dominate the Evo Triangle every other weekend. Accordingly, the ride is lovely and smooth across most surfaces and potholes are nicely dampened. The V60 certainly feels comfortable at motorway speeds and it does a great job of soaking up the blemishes. Even in the wet and windy conditions the V60 was happy to crack-on with the job at hand.
Taking it down the country lanes? Not so much. The V60 does tend to suffer from understeer and a loss of traction at the front wheels. I noticed that at the top of a T junction, applying steering lock while stationary causes the wheels to skip with even just the slightest touch of acceleration. It’s not dangerous, but it’s a reminder that this is a sensible car for sensible people.
The R-Design model we tested had stiffer suspension and certainly felt like there was more body control. The steering was also very direct but this takes some getting used to, as there isn’t an awful lot of feedback through the steering wheel .
As mentioned, the refinement levels are exceptional in the V60. All buttons are nicely dampened, the materials are of a high quality and the ride - although stiff in R-Design models - is suitably comfortable. At cruising speed on the motorway, the cabin is a very tranquil place to be and as-good-as no road or wind noise enters the car. The steering wheel could perhaps do with a bit more weight behind it, but maybe I’m being fussy?
Gear changes in the automatic model are worth crediting too. Accelerating under sensible circumstances see the power delivered in a progressive and linear manner and you barely notice the switching of cogs.
In the car
If you, like my father, are very particular about how comfortable the drivers seat needs to be then you’ll have no qualms with the V60, or any Volvo on the market. The best seats in the business - any other manufacturer's reading this, I dare you to try and prove me wrong. The V60 can take the sting out of a frosty, miserable, monday morning in January thanks to a combination of the electric windscreen defroster, heated steering wheel and the plush seats - the latter being reminiscent of the bed you just dragged yourself from. Seriously, great seats.
Elsewhere in the cabin you’ve got premium materials all over the place, as you’d expect from a premium manufacturer. You also have the tombstone-like centre console which is cluttered with buttons. Far, far too many buttons for my liking, but that’s subjective and I will concede that the layout and operation of functions is intuitive and easy to get used to. It’s actually refreshing to enter postcodes into the Sat-Nav using an old Nokia style keyboard - instead of prodding at a touch screen.
Interestingly, the V60 isn’t quite as capacious in the boot as previous models have been. This, to me, seems like an area where they have had to compromise to keep up with the modern market. Yes, their older models always had the biggest boots, but they also looked somewhat hearse-like. The trade-off for the sleek exterior seems to be a few litres less space in the back. You’re left with 430litres with the seats in place, still a nice amount, but the Superb Estate from Skoda offers 633 litres. Fold the seats down and the boot expands to 1,246 litres - not bad, but still not much to shout about.
I touched on it in the last section, but the electric defroster really is a novelty. De-icing your car can be a painful process, but this feature will have the job done in about 60 seconds, just in time for your seats and steering wheel to warm up. Well done Volvo.
On the flip-side, I’d be wrong to ignore a design flaw with the V60. I had the car for just over a week and I had to clear the camera lens 4 times. The amount of mud and dirt that sticks to the rear end of the V60 is disconcerting enough, but the camera lens is too exposed so is constantly being impaired.
Leg room is pleasant all round, and the shape of the middle seat in the rear will be fine for kids but adults might want to take turns on long journeys.
The plug-in hybrid model has a theoretical figure of 155mpg that you’ll never be able to achieve - but if you buy before April 2017 it will still be free to tax each year as it only emits 48g/km of CO2. The D2 is the cheapest Diesel V60 to buy and it is also the most economical, returning 76mpg on a motorway run and, again, it is also free to tax under the current rates. The D3 and D4 both return 71mpg on motorway journeys and they are still only £20 a year to tax at the moment. The £20 a year extra is definitely worth paying for when balanced against the added power and torque.
The petrol V60 Polestar is by far the worst model in terms of fuel - it’s 2.0litre turbo unit will only offer you 33mpg at best… but this is an all wheel drive performance model, so what do you expect?
As mentioned, the cabin of the V60 is composed of premium materials which are all pleasant to touch and all buttons are nicely dampened - this goes a long way in positively affecting the atmosphere in the V60. While the dash layout isn’t the most ostentatious, it’s functional and effective.
Volvos tend to have a pretty solid reliability record. As well as being famously strong on the exterior, the leather is thick, buttons are metal and you get the impression everything about the car can take a battering - great if you’ve got kids or dogs! The V60 scored 94.47% in the Driver Power survey.
Volvo are leading the pack when it comes to safety technology. As well as having a front-mounted pedestrian detection system which will automatically brake if it senses an imminent collision, there are a few other toys I enjoyed playing with…
Adaptive cruise control is a gem in this - I travelled from Liverpool to Manchester without touching the brake or the accelerator once, using the easy flick-switch to maintain a safe distance behind the car in front.
The collision warning is another cool feature - 4 orange dots appear on the windscreen when the car detects an object in the cars path, these dots turn red and a warning sound is played out. It’s all very clever and simple to use, although you do get some unwanted warnings when navigating a road with cars parked either side.
And, lastly, the lane assist which will steer you back into the centre of the lane if it detects you’re going wide without indicating. This feature is quite disconcerting at first, but it’s been well executed by Volvo and it doesn’t jerk the car around, you can also drive through it if you do wish to change lane, but you should have been indicating anyway...