That thing your parents told you about making a good first impression with strangers? It turns out this also applies to cars. I’ve already observed that the V60 is a handsome beast. And since then I’ve caught myself looking back at the car when walking away from it. The combination of its glossy red colour, contrasting black trim and Volvo’s signature headlight design have all played their part. I regularly see a standard V60 locally, and ‘my’ car’s R-Design styling treatments add some noticeable heft to its appearance, along with its larger wheels. And Volvo must be congratulated for convincing me that red is a good choice for a premium car. I’ve always leaned towards silver, but my head has finally been turned.
It’s fair to conclude that, aesthetically, the V60 is very much a feel-good car. Visually the proportions are right, while its interior could never be mistaken for something German. And while Saab used to get all the praise for its seats, Volvo has now assumed that mantle. The abundance of adjustments available for the driver’s seat have made fine tuning the experience a doddle. All of which has made living with the car a pleasant experience, and helped to detract from some of the niggles. Volvo’s made a good fist of delivering a sporting driving experience without shattering my spine; it’s well known for taking extra care when tuning its suspension hardware. The ride is still firm, but not uncomfortably so, allowing you to have your fun but not feel shaken or stirred at the end of a long drive.
I’ve also been impressed by the engine’s refinement. It’s pretty quiet, even when cold, unless you’re accelerating hard, and overall refinement is first class. No complaints here about its overall performance either, especially once you’ve wound it up to ‘entertaining’ on a twisty A-road. The engine is punchy, the steering direct – everything you’d hope for when you’re keen to make eager progress.
I wish I could say the same about its economy credentials, though. The performance on long runs is okay, but you’re punished if you spend long periods in town. Certainly, the car’s gearbox could be more pro-active in selecting the right gear at the right time. This is exaggerated if you select the ‘eco’ driving mode, which is purposely conservative to boost overall efficiency. I can live with the gentle breeze of the detuned air conditioning, but not the gearbox’s increased hesitancy. If eking out more fuel economy isn’t a priority, leave the drive mode selector alone.
Thank goodness for the V60’s good size load space, then. It’s why you choose an estate car, right? Factor in the powered tailgate that doesn’t beep incessantly when in motion (rejoice!) and I’ll overlook the need to manually retract the load cover – some rival brands also automate this operation. Still, tumble the rear seats down and there’s no stopping you at the local Ikea. There really is little else to say on the subject, as the user experience more than lives up to expectations.
But it’s also the little things that have made my brief time with the V60 that bit more enjoyable. The fuel filler that doesn’t require a separate cap isn’t a design unique to Volvo, but it sure makes filling up less of a hassle than normal. Then there’s the whole keyless entry and ignition experience, which just works. The thoughtful, but unobtrusive in-dash alerts are good, such as the low fuel and washer reservoir reminders. The less said about the fingerprint magnet that is the infotainment screen the better, though. On balance, the V60 can be judged a winner. Yes, it’s not perfect, but the overriding experience is an impressive and enjoyable one. It easily stands tall alongside the big three Germans and is a credible alternative if you’re seeking a refreshingly different, yet competent, take on the traditional estate car format.
Date arrived 12th April 2019
Fuel economy 45.6-51.4mpg (combined) 41.1mpg (on test)
It’s the little things, like the polite low washer reservoir warning message, that make all the difference.
The V60’s infotainment screen is a fingerprint magnet, and it really isn’t a good look.