A week with the new Volvo V60 proved it’s not just a shrunken V90
28 August 2019
Thomas Ingenlath, Robin Page and Maximilian Missoni. Since 2014 this dynamic trio has taken the world by storm. Well, discerning people out there, at least. No, we’ve not gone all Eurovision on our readers. These guys aren’t a cheesy boy-band but head up Volvo’s design team, and although looks may be subjective, many including us reckon the Swedish marque’s now-fully-updated model range looks gorgeous and just as good as Germany’s equivalents.
It’s a difficult balance to get right, giving each model its own character while neither being accused of running against the whole point of brand identify nor of pressing the corporate photocopier’s shrink or enlarge button and producing Russian doll copies, all while perpetuating core Volvo values including comfort, practicality, technology and safety.
Don’t the Volvo V60 and V90 estates look the same, just in different sizes?
At first glance, the new Volvo V60 may be perceived as merely a more compact V90, and yes, it unsurprisingly bears a strong family resemblance, but quite a few embraceable differences exist. The V60’s front grille, for starters, is shallower than the V90’s and isn’t as shiny. In entry-level Momentum Plus trim as tested, which is popular for both models, the V60 appears more chiselled, and sporty, at least in lighter palette choices, and incorporates sleeker fog-lights. The V90’s lower vents span the width of its face, while the V60’s grille is narrower and more central, flanked by more prominent surrounds. And even the wonderfully cool Thor’s Hammer daytime LED running lights differ slightly between the siblings, the V60’s fractionally smaller signatures actually appearing more distinctive and moody, bleeding into the paintwork between the headlight and the grille.
Down the side, the V60’s rearmost window-line is more steeply raked and its crease-lines more muscular, giving it a sportier vibe than its slightly bigger brother. And the most noticeable difference is at the rear, the V60’s silhouette incorporating a much more upright tailgate that nevertheless doesn’t detract from its youthfulness and simultaneously boosts its practicality, while the red reflectors in its rear bumper break up the metal. The V90 ironically takes the contemporary ‘sports tourer’ approach to the sector, prioritising looks over functionality, whereas the V60 commendably manages to blend attractive premium styling with the shape and resultant usability that many ‘estate’ drivers still expect.
Let's do a Volvo V60 size comparison with the V90
On paper, the V90 is 4cm wider than its newish sibling, just under 5cm taller, 17.5cm longer and offers a wheelbase boosted by 6.9cm, but it’s not as simple as assuming that the numerically larger car is more spacious and practical in every way. In fact, the V60 offers 107.4cm of legroom in the front compared to 107.1cm from the V90.
In the real world of supermarket car parks, drive-thrus, school runs and weekend leisure activities, it feels slightly snugger width-wise when sat in the V60, but headroom and rear legroom are just as good, and the boot feels just as usable as the V90’s – more so, actually, thanks to its greater ability to carry long, boxy loads positioned more intimately in relation to the rear window. It’s always a good test to see if five of those large, tough, reusable supermarket bags can be placed side by side in a car, and they most certainly can in the Volvo V60, with proverbial acres of boot space still remaining behind or in front of them.
The Volvo V60’s practicality
Its 529-litre standard luggage capacity measured up to the window line beats the Audi A4 Avant and Mercedes C-Class estate’s respective 505 and 495 litre capacities and, loaded to the roof, the Swede swallows 658 litres. Folding the Volvo’s back seats down at the touch of a button expands the car’s window-line capacity to 898 litres and its fully-stuffed volume to 1,441 litres, which is ironically now less than the A4’s 1,510 space. Volvo V60 boot dimensions should enable carrying a bike without removing the wheels.
The Convenience Pack is worth specifying when building the specification prior to leasing a V60, and comes with buttons for flattening the back seats from the boot, various nets in the boot and also the front of the car for securing items more safely, a 3-pin socket in the dashboard and a 12V socket in the boot. The tailgate on Momentum Plus models doesn’t open hands-free but is nevertheless electrically-operated, and all versions also incorporate a panel in the boot floor that can be erected to act as a divider, complete with extra bag hooks. It’s a shame that rails can’t be specified for the Volvo’s boot floor like they can in various Audi, Skoda and VW estates, but the Swedes have clearly thought about practicality for families, sport-loving drivers and antiques-ferrying folk in designing the new V60, as they always have throughout the brand’s history.
What’s the Volvo V60’s interior like?
In a word, superb. The same 12-inch portrait-oriented, tablet-like touchscreen takes centre stage, flanked by the brand’s sophisticated vertical chrome vents which aren’t dissimilar to those in a Bentley. Eyes are then drawn to Volvo’s unique, diamond-patterned metallic ignition switch and rotary drive mode selector, while the quality of the leather covering the gear-shifter, steering wheel and other surfaces is tangibly good, and the standard iron ore trim running across the dashboard and door cards amplifies the aura of solidity.
The cabin beats a minimalist, button-sparse path, which is very welcome in general but can prove frustrating and even a tad dangerous at times despite Volvo’s formidable safety reputation, with climate temperature settings only accessible by stabbing at the screen that isn’t the last word in operational tactility.
Volvo has long been synonymous with developing among the most comfortable seating available and the V60 in Momentum Plus guise doesn’t disappoint, its leather-faced seats making medium to long journeys pleasant if not entirely wriggle-free.
Sensus navigation combines effective graphics with useful information, the upgraded Harman Kardon audio system sounded excellent, perpetuating another traditional Volvo trait, the rear parking camera is uncannily crisp in its resolution, and optional dark tinted windows are well worth specifying for aesthetic, comfort and security reasons, as they’re not standard.
Oddment storage is pretty good, with door bins, a glovebox, a central cubby and seat-back pockets all of a decent size, and the interior of the new Volvo V60 is most certainly of the premium variety, evident for instance by the carpeted finish of the centre console’s sides.
Behind the wheel: Volvo V60 road test
More compact than the V90, especially in length, yet feeling more or less as spacious on the inside, the new Volvo V60 is a joy on UK roads, from on the motorway to threading this stunningly attractive estate through winding country lanes without wincing. The B-pillar is rather thick, though, impeding visibility at times.
Although diesel still plays an important role for and fits the driving habits of many motorists, it’s in the doghouse and we can’t see it experiencing a revival, with manufacturers’ petrol units like the T4 tested in the Volvo V60 accounting for an ever-higher proportion of personal car lease deals and purchases in this intriguing period of transition towards plug-in and electric cars becoming mainstream.
Volvo’s entry-level T4 petrol engine admittedly can’t be described as potent with figures of 190PS and 221lb ft, and while its 0-62mph time of 7.2 seconds may seem quite peppy on paper, flooring this guise of V60 isn’t something to be relished, sounding a touch gruff at the limit. It’s a totally different story when cruising, though, when the refined and silky T4 is an absolute joy, its tonal qualities complemented superbly by the remarkably smooth 8-speed standard automatic transmission. While it doesn’t pretend to be sporty, the newcomer estate’s steering is actually surprisingly positive and sharp, certainly more impressive than the V90’s setup, and its suspension is uncannily brilliant on the UK’s often dire roads, dealing with speed-bumps impressively while not making a meal of potholes and poor surfaces even when shod with 20-inch alloys.
Fuel economy at the end of the V60’s test week stood at 36.4mpg, which is spot on in relation to Volvo’s published WLTP figures and is relatively decent for a petrol car of this size, driven under mixed conditions in hot weather. The 60-litre fuel tank translated into a very useable driving range free from the frustrations of regular forecourt visits, making it a great family wagon to take on staycations in Cornwall, Wales and the like.
The T4 and T5 units can tow caravans, trailers and other braked loads of up to 1,800kg, which may not provide as much flexibility as the 2,000kg-capable D4 diesel and T8 plug-in hybrid petrol variants, but beats the 1,600kg that the D3 diesel can muster with a manual gearbox – something worth bearing in mind when comparing personal lease or indeed business contract hire prices in the case of company car drivers who holiday in their cars and pay the appropriate fuel back to their fleet managers, HR and payroll departments.
With the search criteria adjusted to a 24-month contract, which many personal car leasing customers find appealing as it enables them to then upgrade sooner, CarLeasingPeople’s Volvo V60 lease deals are currently priced around £325 per month including VAT. This is with annual mileage set at 8,000 and with 6 months paid upfront as the initial rental.
Safety is also a hallmark of Volvo models and the V60 unsurprisingly scored 5 stars in Euro NCAP testing, fitted as standard with City Safety and Autobrake technology that keep not just occupants but other road users, cyclists and pedestrians safe. Other default Volvo V60 safety features include oncoming lane mitigation, lane keeping aid, run-off road protection and a raft of other acronyms associated with the Swedish brand, such as SIPS (side impact protection system), which all inspire confidence in the car and will be particularly reassuring to parents with young children.
Volvo V60 performance verdict
With edgier, sportier exterior styling along with slightly more manageable proportions for UK roads, many regard the new Volvo V60 estate as more eye-catching than the V90, and even in entry-level Momentum Plus trim as tested, it looks the proverbial business and is veritably brimming with classiness and kit on the inside, too.
Its boot space is less than the V90 on paper but eclipses its own German rivals and is more useable thanks to an upright design, while front and rear passengers will find it easy to get comfortable in the V60.
Drivers who like to push their cars hard may find the T4 petrol engine a little lacklustre, but those who place more importance on overall refinement, reasonable pace and a general sense of wellbeing will really like it. It’s not as engaging to drive as a BMW 3 Series Touring but matches the Audi A4 Avant and represents an excellent all-round choice for discerning motorists who like to stand out from the crowd.