To many people, the name Volvo conjures up images of solid, staid, somewhat pricey reliability and safety. The ubiquitous family estate car stuffed with irritable children, or the somewhat unimaginative but comfortable sedan being driven by a harried businessman. Few people would have associated words like dynamic, cutting edge design, innovation, funky, cool or chic with a Volvo. But that has all changed and Volvo’s new 60 series is an affirmation of this impressive change of association.
I’m already a huge fan of Volvo’s V40 range and I’ve had the privilege of testing most of the new V-models, both diesel- and petrol-fuelled, over the past year or so. I love the facelift that has been given to the V-range in terms of styling and design options, so it was with no small sense of anticipation that I took delivery of a new V60 to test for a week.
Our spunky model came dressed as a gorgeous metallic blue D4 (5 cylinder turbo-diesel engine). A quick snoop around the exterior drew the following impression: This is one HOT estate car! Whereas I really love the V40’s hatch/sportback styling, I found that the V60’s larger boot space and elongated rear did not detract too much from the much sportier design of the V-range.
More aggressive styling in front with the quintessential V of the bonnet, wide grille and attractive headlights and the most fantastic, almost squat solidity of the rear belie the estate character of the V60. 18-inch wheels fill the wheel arches and add to the solid yet definitely not staid look of this estate car.
Inside, you have the pleasure of top-end Scandinavian styling. Our model sported a black leather interior with brushed aluminium trim, but with a choice of 26 upholstery options, 6 trim options, 7 steering wheel options and 5 gear lever knob options, chances are you can stamp your own brand of individuality on your V60 through the options selection! For a true Swedish experience, change the ambient light setting to something interesting like purple, green or red or whichever colour suits your mood.
The ergonomically designed seats provide excellent support and comfort for the long road as well as that quick trip down to the shops. The rear seats fold in a 40/20/40 manner, allowing for greater packing ingenuity when dealing with bulky luggage items. Which brings me to the boot. A vast rear storage area adds to the appeal of this estate car with ample room for dogs, luggage, shopping, golf clubs and more.
A retractable boot cover keeps it all tidy and hidden away from prying eyes. All in all, the interior is made of high class, excellent quality materials that lend an air of sophisticated and restrained styling with just a hint of flair to spice up the design. I love the firm grasp that Volvo has of blending practicality with comfort and style.
But down to the nitty gritty – how does it drive? The very quiet 2.0 litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel delivers an impressive and confidence boosting amount of torque, even at low idling speeds. Using a 6-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox, I found the V60 to have a miniscule lag when pulling away suddenly – until the turbo kicks in (thankfully at a low speed). This wasn’t hugely problematic and definitely didn’t detract at all from a seamless driving experience. The automatic gearbox shifts very smoothly up and down the gears and ensures optimum fuel consumption and minimum CO2 emissions.
Put your foot down and experience the powerfully smooth acceleration and the feeling of infinite possibility for the road ahead. Handling wise, the V60 is an absolute pleasure. It handles cornering and turns with solidity and dependability. It eats up the straights and it quietly purrs through traffic congestion. Fuel economy is impressive and despite a weekly average of 400km on mixed driving, we returned the car with just under a half tank of diesel left.
When talking Volvo, you have to talk safety and the V60 is no exception. It has Volvo’s wonderful City Safety feature brings the car to a halt unaided at speeds of up to 35km/h. Perfect for ditzy drivers who text in traffic and a surefire way to avoid the odd bumper bashing.
Rear, side and front sensors, rear park assist, LED day running lights, side impact protection, multiple airbags, emergency brake lights and a host of other standard Volvo safety features ensure that despite jazzing up their appearances, Volvo’s safety specifications are still some of the highest around.
What about the V60 as an estate? I’ve always associated Volvos with being family cars, estate cars destined to ensure the safe passage of your most loved family members on their daily journeys, surrounded by the very best safety technology on offer. You could enjoy travelling in comfortable if understated style and be assured that the car would handle all the demands of luggage, travel, family and more with equanimity. The new V60 still offers all of this and more.
For instance, I would have to disabuse you of the notion that Volvos are dull and boring. Just glance at the lines, the bright colours, the multiple options for interior styling and the added features that accompany today’s modern Volvo V60. Then add to that the smooth, light as a feather handling, responsiveness and gentle power of the V60 D4 and you’d be hard pushed to come up with reasons why you shouldn’t own one.
Prices start at N$340 500 for the V60 D4(Essential) automatic. Each Volvo comes standard with a 5 year 120 000km maintenance plan.