Volvo V60 long-term test review
The Volvo V60 beat Audi's A4 Avant and Skoda's Superb Estate when we group tested it, but is it as impressive when you live with it every day?...
- The Car: Volvo V60 D4 Momentum Pro
- Run by: John Bradshaw, chief photographer
- Why it's here: To see if one of the best modern estates is a better choice than an SUV
- Needs to: Cope with all of my photography gear, provide smooth transport on long journeys, return reasonable fuel economy and be an effortless commuter car
Price £36,610 Price as tested £43,835 Miles covered 1000 Official Economy 52.3mpg (WLTP combined) Test economy 44.4mpg Options fitted Xenium Pack which includes panoramic sunroof, 360 parking camera and Park Assist Pilot (£1800), Intellisafe Pro which includes Pilot Assist, adaptive cruise control, Blind Spot Warning, Cross Traffic Alert (£1625), Premium Harmon Kardon sound system (£825), 18in Diamond Cut alloy wheels (£775), metallic paint (£650), dark tinted windows (£600) Convenience Pack (£500), Smartphone Integration (£300) and spare wheel and jack (£150)
2 November 2018 – the Volvo V60 joins our fleet
Which type of car best suits your lifestyle? It’s a tough question; one that requires you to consider a multitude of factors, including where you live, the length of your commute, how many children you have, your penchant for speed – or lack thereof – all the way down to more frivolous considerations such as aesthetics and street cred.
It’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to over the years, but now I think I finally have an answer – albeit not the one you might expect.
You see, I've run a lot of SUVs in the recent past, and as I’ve hopefully made clear in my reports, I do like them. They’re spacious, have plenty of boot space and tend to be pretty comfortable. But despite this fondness, every SUV I’ve run has been compromised in some way, suffering from either worse fuel economy, a higher rate of tax or poorer ride and handling than regular cars.
And you know what, I’m really not sure what I’m getting in return? Perhaps to some people, owning an SUV carries enough cache to offset all the drawbacks, but I suspect most people would be better off with a good old-fashioned estate car. Remember those? I suspect you do – indeed, you probably owned one back in the day.
So, to see if my suspicions are correct – that an estate car does indeed make a better ‘lifestyle’ vehicle than a modern SUV – I’ve now got one. And what better brand to go to than Volvo, a manufacturer synonymous with the species, having sold more than six million estates worldwide since 1953.
The model I've gone for is a V60 D4 Momentum Pro, with this sitting between the small XC40 and mid-sized XC60 SUVs in price. And guess what? It has a bigger boot than either of them. Plus, it looks better, at least to my eyes.
Now, if you’ve not kept up with the development of Volvo design that might come as a bit of a surprise. Volvo estates are supposed to be boxy, brown barges driven by geography teachers and antique dealers, right? Wrong. Volvo shed its fuddy-duddy, furniture-removal image a long time ago and is now firmly in the business of churning out some of the most beautifully styled cars in the business. And the V60 is one of them.
It features customary Volvo design details such as the ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlights and L-shaped taillights, but the V60 also benefits from sharper flanks and a more aggressively tapered roofline than all of the other models in Volvo’s current line up – larger V90 included.
This lends the V60 an athletic, muscular appearance that I think works for a car of its size. And, best of all, unlike a BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class, you don’t need to opt for the sportier and more expensive trim (Volvo’s equivalent to M Sport or AMG-Line) trim to achieve this look. Even the base car looks purposeful.
But what about practicality, I hear you ask? Surely interior space has been compromised by that lower roofline? Well, to a point; this is no shoebox shaped 240 GL. But for the most part Volvo’s designers have managed to balance practicality and aesthetics better than you might expect. With the rear seats in place, the V60’s boot offers up 529 litres of space, which is considerably more than estate variants of the Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series.
There’s more space available under the floor if, like me, you don’t order a spare wheel. And should you need to carry longer objects, you can drop the rear seats to create a completely extended load area; it can even be done at the touch of a button if you option the Convenience Pack (a box I made sure to tick on my V60), which also includes a flip-up load bay divider with hooks to hang your shopping bags on, and a 12V power socket in the boot.
But, of course, if practicality was all people cared about, everyone would just buy the larger and far cheaper Skoda Superb Estate, wouldn’t they? But what you don’t get with a car like the Superb is a feeling of luxury. And that’s something the Volvo has in spades.
Step inside and it's clean, crisp and delightfully Scandinavian. There’s lashings of wood across the dashboard, plenty of soft-touch materials and an impressive 9.3in portrait touchscreen, which is augmented by a set of digital dials behind the steering wheel. It feels properly upmarket and even after my first day of custodianship I was left wondering if any other manufacturers can offer a more luxurious interior at this price? After talking to the road test team we had to conclude that no one does.
So, in short, I guess you could say that the V60 is already proving to be an ideal companion. But with Car of the Year photography season just around the corner it will need to prove itself more than just luxurious and spacious. It will also need to be frugal, provide smooth transport on very long journeys and be an effortless commuter car – that latter one being especially important.
For now, though, I’m smitten. And quite honestly, I can’t wait to spend more time behind the wheel.