The floating change
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Modern consumer culture demands that the motor industry almost perpetually reinvents itself, especially big companies like Volvo. Having just tested the impressive V40, this week we found ourselves in the familiar surroundings of a Volvo V60.
The Swedish model line-up has changed almost as much as their design yet the V60 with all its swooping lines and cool lights remains a pillar of the company. This medium-sized estate still has 940/850 Wagon DNA in it and will probably roll up to a Volvo 240 Wagon while tearfully asking “Granddad…?”
I think the V60 is a very attractive automobile with its curvy take on the boxy station wagon theme. The days of right angles and almost vertical cut lines are long gone yet the practicality and family genes remain. Its curvaceous face with extended nose is just as agreeable as that snazzy, mean rear end.
Same goes for its simple and stylish interior which, much like its other Volvo stable mates, is an uplifting and welcome change from some of its competitors’ button fests. The tall, anti-whiplish seats, that floating centre hang-down section, the simple but delicate dials and that big steering wheel all appeal.
There’s lots of room in both rows and a voluminous boot if your family outgrows the small hatchback. With clever rear seats which fold completely flat, the V60 even begs you to take it to the nearest hardware shop and find something unwieldy to transport home.
Having recently enjoyed the new V40, this V60 shows strong family ties but a few signs of aging. Chief among these are its dials and trip computer displays which rely on very basic monochrome lettering to bring you a limited amount of information.
Having typed that, their operation is easy and very pleasant; something which also appealed to us in the simplistic Volvo XC90. A central TFT monitor offers plenty of colourful infotainment and vehicle settings, excellent navigation and a decent sound system with CD/mp3/Aux capability.
Other standard equipment depends on which model you choose – Essential, Excel or Elite. Our D5 only comes as the last and most loaded specimen but all V60’s come with City Safety, Dynamic Stability Control, clever ABS brakes, multiple airbags, side impact protection, remote central locking, alarm and immobiliser.
Leather trim is also standard, as are climate control, cruise control, electronic park brake, multi-function steering wheel, auto-dimming interior mirror, cargo cover, lockable floor, home lights, power windows and mirrors, as well as multiple storage spaces.
The top-spec Elite is available with all other engines (D3, T3, T4, T5 and T6) which also gives you active Xenon lights, power & memory driver’s seats, auto wipers (with tunnel detection), blind spot warning, high performance Multimedia system and water-repellent side windows.
Options include adaptive cruise control, collision warning and auto brake, lane departure warning, dual Xenon lights, Keyless Drive, sunroof, more powered comfort features, front seat heating, speed dependent steering, Bluetooth, speaker upgrades, speed limiter, various wheels and a compass.
Should your kids be properly house-trained, you could even open the tempting Volvo brochure to pick an interior colour combination that’ll go with one of the 13 available colours. Petrol engines include T3 (110kW), T4 (132kW), T5 (177kW) and T6 (224kW), the two Diesels are D3 (120kW/400Nm) and this D5 (158kW/440Nm).
The D5’s 2400cc five-cylinder turbo-Diesel shines with excellent and reasonably smooth power delivery, a willingness to rev and a lovely five-cylinder thump. The 6-speed automatic gearbox is equally smooth and makes up for its lack in shift paddles by offering a lit gear lever with tip function.
Torque steer stays at a pleasing minimum and the V60’s grip levels are excellent – the comfortable and predictable road-holding hands over to mild under-steer and an avalanche of electronic safety nets at the limit. The brawny engine means that you never travel at more than 2,500rpm with plenty of power in reserve.
V60’s huge steering wheel has slightly numb feedback but otherwise the Swede is obedient and easy to pilot, has excellent brights and superb brakes. Volvo claims average consumption of 6.2L/100km but we were hovering closer to 9 – not bad for mixed driving and a small sacrifice for all that low-rev clout.
0-100km/h takes 7.7 seconds (we got very close) and top speed is 230km/h (we didn’t). Prices range from N$333,600 (T3 Essential) to N$525,600 (T6 R-Design), this D5 Elite costing N$459,100. All V60’s are sold with a 5-year/100,000km Volvo Plan.
0-100m: 6.5s / 87.9km/h
0-200m: 9.7s / 123.0km/h
0-300m: 12.4s / 139.3km/h
0-400m: 14.9 / 148.0km/h
1/4mile: 14.9s @ 92.1mph (148.2km/h)
Climate Sunny, mild
Road Dry tarmac, level
Occupants Driver, no passengers
Fuel level 1/2