TO those who have said in the past that Volvos are dull, take a look at the smartest estate to hit the roads in many a month, writes Rob Auchterlonie.
Yes, that is a Volvo badge on the back, and yes, the looks that hint that it might be an enjoyable car to drive do not deceive.
And it kind of alludes to the fact that Volvo have set their sights firmly on a new breed of owner – one a bit younger than past customers and who doesn’t necessarily need a tartan travel rug for the knees of his front seat passenger.
The new V60, which we drove on its UK debut last month is a definite departure from some of the boxier offerings of old.
The designers have given it a sweeping, coupe-like roofline which instantly makes it their best looking estate so far. By miles.
And the smart new look doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten what most of us buy Volvos for – practicality. There’s still a good amount of boot space before you even think of folding the rear seats.
Based on Volvo’s new S60, the most dynamic saloon in the company’s range, the V60 maintains the fun-to-drive qualities and performance of its four-door counterpart but offers more space and versatility.
The boot capacity is a generous 430 litres to the window line, with rear seats up, and 557 litres when loaded to the roof. When rear seats are folded, capacity jumps to a capacious 1241 litres.
The rear seats fold 40:20:40, the same as Volvo’s champion load-lugger the V70,. To further improve carrying capacity, the front passenger seat backrest can also fold forward, which helps to carry long items.
“Volvo estates used to be designed to carry fridges,” says Design Director Peter Horbury. “But modern lifestyles make that unnecessary. Retailers nowadays normally deliver fridges!” And while that might not be the role of the V60 there are others in the Volvo range that can pick up the baton there.
A pleasant mix of brushed metal inserts, decent quality plastics and soft leather greet the occupants in what is a typical functional Volvo cabin, with a decent amount of room for all the occupants.
The seats are supremely comfortable - it’s a bit like sticking wheels on your favourite armchair and heading off into the countryside - and the D5 version sampled with its six speed automatic Geartronic setup responds well to the throttle and steering inputs. Braking department is highly efficient, and needed to be, as we tested the car on some flooded roads during an intense spell of biblical weather in the shires, but the Volvo, while demanding care from the driver, dealt with the conditions admirably.
Two common-rail direct-injection turbodiesel engines are offered. The 163PS D3, likely to the best seller in the UK, and 205PS D5 both give excellent low-down torque and strong performance: the D5 offers 0-60mph in just 7.5 seconds, and both diesel engines deliver sub-150g/km CO2 figures.
It’s certainly got the looks to stand out from the crowd, and if your looking for a unique selling point then ponder this: the V60 has Volvo’s pedestrian detection system, which can apply the brakes if it thinks a collision is imminent. Good news for little old ladies with wheeled shopping bags then, not to mention small children who haven’t learnt who the Green Cross Code man is yet.
Added peace of mind comes with a warning system if you get tired and veer out of lane (George Michael’s asking for that on his next Range Rover) and a highly useful Blind Spot Monitor.
Says Project Leader Tomas Ahlborg: “It is designed to be fluid to drive, and to drive in a natural and almost intuitive way. You will feel confident behind the wheel of this car. It’s also extremely predictable in poor weather, such as snow, ice and rain. This is a Swedish car, after all.”
I think we can safely tick the box on that one after the weather on the launch…..
AT A GLANCE:
Prices from £24,960 to £37,895
D5 model has five cylinder turbo diesel engine
2.4 litre, 205hp, 420Nm of torque
0-62mph, 7.9 secs, top speed 230kph