With the Citroën C4 Cactus now gone, I find myself the custodian of Richard Dredge’s Volvo V60 for the remainder of its time on the fleet. Moving up in the world does have its perks. The V60 is roughly double the price of the C4 Cactus, but it comes with more toys and the promise of a more premium ownership experience. My experience to date of the V60 had been limited to a short drive in a more powerful variant, plus a much longer stint in the rugged Cross Country model. I’m a big fan of cars such as Audi’s allroad range, and if using my own money, would happily have such a machine outside my house over a similarly priced SUV. Plus, I have a soft spot for estate cars, large or small.
My first impressions of this V60 tell me that it’s a handsome beast. The proportions are spot on and the sporty R-Design package is a measured, but welcome enhancement. Yes, the R-Design trade-off is a firm ride, but it’s well judged and not at all crashy – even on the roughest of my local urban roads. The upside is minimal body roll on big roundabouts, which is helped by the car’s figure-hugging front seats. Performance-wise this V60 is brisk enough to justify the R-Design badge. The car’s 2.0-litre 148bhp engine is willing – once you’ve given the eight-speed automatic gearbox a good prod – and rarely feels gruff under hard acceleration. That gearbox does like to default to a more laid-back approach around town though, which means you might not always be in the correct gear for that roundabout or corner at the right moment. It’s early days for me and the V60, but experience suggests that the car is more of a sporting grand tourer than urban runabout. It’s more at home on motorways and gently winding country roads, for sure. Still, if you get impatient there’s always the paddleshifters on the chunky steering wheel.
As for economy, urban motoring is nothing special. This is where the gearbox’s ‘relaxed’ approach is most obvious, as the temptation to use too much throttle to counter this trait is always there. Away from the urban sprawl and the V60 makes more sense. Individual trips have regularly seen mpg in the low 50s. Taking it easy to preserve fuel hasn’t been in vain, though. It’s allowed me to appreciate the car’s crisp and clear digital instrument display and the equally useful head-up display, plus Volvo’s mostly intuitive infotainment system. The latter’s portrait orientation is my personal preference, although the display can become crowded once you select Apple CarPlay or Android Auto instead of the built-in audio and navigation features.
And given my love of estate cars, I can’t finish without mentioning the V60’s boot. It’s big, flat and easily accessible thanks to its powered tailgate. I’d have liked to see a standard-fit divider system present, but such criticism is quite minor in the face of such generous load carrying potential.
Date arrived 12th April 2019
Fuel economy 45.6-51.4mpg (combined) 44.5
mpg (on test)
The powered tailgate is welcome, and can be triggered from the keyfob, or by waving your foot under the bumper.
Clearly biased more for economy than performance, there are times when the V60’s gearbox could be more responsive.