Volvo V60 review
The Volvo V60 estate offers a comfortable interior and decent performance to rival the Audi A4 Avant
Volvo isn't known for priortising looks over practicality, but the V60 breaks this tradition. With its sleek styling, it's closer in spirit to the sporty Alfa Romeo 159 Estate - albeit with a more comfortable interior and vastly better build quality. It's also Volvo's most convincing effort to rival the likes of the BMW 3 Series Touring, Mercedes C-Class Estate and Audi A4 Avant yet, with a range of economical petrol and diesel engines. Front and four-wheel-drive versions are available, as is an advanced plug-in hybrid version that's capable of returning an incredible 150mpg and CO2 emissions of only 49g/km.
Our choice: V60 D3 SE Lux
The Volvo V60 is one of the best-looking cars in the manufacturer's line-up, and its purposeful and sporty stance is shown off best in R-Design trim. Entry-level cars are worth a second look too, though, thanks to the car's neat proportions and sleek bodywork. The V60’s cabin scores top marks for luxury and style. The front seats are comfortable, while rear passengers get plenty of head and legroom. The floating dashboard looks great and all the major controls are neatly laid out. Entry-level Business Edition cars come well equipped, with 16-inch alloys, daytime running lights, heated door mirrors and rear parking sensors fitted as standard, while range-topping R-Design models get 18-inch alloys as well as special styling inside and out.
The range of engines is made up of four petrol and four diesel engines. The petrol options range from the firm's 1.6-litre T3 to the range-topping 3.0-litre T6, which gets four-wheel drive and is blisteringly fast. The diesels are a better bet, though, and include the 1.6-litre D2, 2.0-litre D3, more powerful 2.0-litre D4 and 2.4-litre D5. Even the entry-level D2 model offers decent performance abd all versions make light work of long motorway journeys, thanks to a comfortable ride and plush seats. Accurate steering helps it to feel agile and there's a decent amount of grip, too. That said, the car's soft suspension set-up means there’s a lot of body roll and keen drivers will also be disappointed by the lack of steering feel and sloppy action of the six-speed manual gearbox.
The Volvo V60 has been awarded a full-five star crash test rating from Euro NCAP, with 94 per cent for adult occupant protection and an impressive 100 per cent in the safety assist category. All cars get six airbags, electronic stability control and the firm's City Safe system, which helps prevent low-speed accidents. An optional Driver Support pack includes a blind spot warning system and a lane-change alert. There's also a pedestrian detection system, as well as collision warning technology with automatic braking designed to prevent you crashing into the back of cars around town. Although the V60 didn't feature in the 2012 Driver Power survey, the XC60 performed well, securing Volvo its 10th-place finish in the manufacturer results.
The V60's sporty design is good to look at, but it takes its toll on the Volvo’s practicality. With the rear seats in place, the estate car offers just 430 litres of boot space - that's 60 litres less than the Audi A4 Avant and 123 litres less than the Hyundai i40 Tourer. At least the layout is relatively versatile, thanks to a 40/20/40 split rear bench. All cars feature a neat divider that folds out of the floor to secure shopping bags. Even so, with all the rear seats folded flat, you’ll only get 1,241 litres of space, which is considerably less than smaller rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic hatchbacks.
Volvo recently launched a small number of diesel-electric plug-in hybrid V60s, with more expected in the spring of 2013. It's capable of returning an incredible 150mpg, making it by far the most fuel efficient car in its class. You'll pay handsomely for it, though - the V60 hybrid price starts at £42,000. The fuel-sipping DRIVe vesions are no longer offered, which means that the 1.6-litre D2 makes the most sense when it comes to keeping costs down. With 65.7mpg fuel economy, CO2 emissions of only 114/gkm and strong residual values, they offer the lowest whole life costs in the range. Volvo also offers a range of fixed-price servicing deals, though.