Right now, this latest V60 is available with three engines: two 2.0-litre diesels (the D3 model has 148bhp, while the D4 squeezes out 187bhp) and a 247bhp turbocharged petrol, badged T5. These will be joined by a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid later in 2018.
So far, we’ve driven only the diesels. The D4 covers the 0-62mph sprint in a claimed 7.9sec, which is competitive and sounds plenty, but the reality is that, at full chat, it doesn’t feel quite as nippy as the Mercedes-Benz C220d Estate and Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TDI 190. But when you’re not trying to win drag races, you’ll find the pace it offers quite sufficient; indeed, the V60 generates more than enough low to mid-range verve for effortlessly bumbling through town or plodding mile after mile up the motorway without any stress.
Naturally, the D3 isn't as brisk as the more powerful D4, but it's still quick enough, getting up to motorway speeds without too much fuss and pulling from low in the rev range. Even so, given the small price premium and similar economy, we'd pick the D4.
Yet the V60 has an Achilles' heel: its eight-speed automatic gearbox. As with other Volvos, this tends to dither when you ask for a burst of acceleration – something that you have to factor into your driving technique if you don’t want to get caught short when pulling out of junctions or going for an overtake.
If you fancy something more alert, and you can put up with changing your own gears, there’s always the alternative six-speed manual ’box. While this doesn’t have the most tactile of shifts, it has a reasonably short throw and is easy to slot into the correct gear. We just wish the clutch pedal had a bit more feel; it can be rather tricky to find the biting point.
When it comes to four-cylinder diesel engines, nothing gets near to matching the hushed tones of the Audi A4, yet the four-cylinder V60 D4 is a commendable second. It’s certainly more vocal than the A4, particularly when you accelerate hard, but it’s never harsh nor hostile and is far less grumbly than its C-Class and BMW 3 Series counterparts.
Elsewhere, the A4 pips the V60 for hushed progress. Even though the versions we’ve tried had optional acoustic glass fitted, you can still hear more flutter from wind over the door mirrors than you would in an A4. Mind you, road and suspension noise are mostly well damped out, so the V60 is still a largely hushed experience for big-mile jaunts.
The V60 strikes a happy balance with its ride – assuming you’ve got the right suspension box ticked. With standard suspension and 17in or 18in wheels (like you’d find on Momentum and Momentum Pro models respectively), the V60 is impressive. Body movements are tightly checked over gentle bumps – sleeping policemen or undulating dips and crest on country roads, for instance – so it won’t make your passengers ill, yet it still copes well when you strike something harsher, such as a sharp-edged pothole.
However, opt for 19in wheels and adaptive suspension and you’ll find the V60’s character changes for the worse. Even in Comfort mode, the car fidgets over all but the smoothest of surfaces, while vertical movements over crests and compressions are far too sudden. Stick it in Dynamic and it’s far too firm for the majority of British roads.
The good news is that the V60 handles well on 18in and 19in wheels – and not just for a Volvo. Okay, you won’t get the pin-sharp dynamics and rear-wheel drive adjustability of a well-specced 3 Series Touring, but the front-wheel-drive V60 steers lightly in town and deftly on country lanes, while it tracks assuredly straight on motorways. Meanwhile, the body stays planted and the tyres deliver good grip when you press on. Opt for 17in wheels and you’ll find the handling is more wallowy; that’s the price you pay for the additional comfort. Four-wheel-drive versions will also be available further down the line.