The big test

The most comprehensive
new product test in fleet

Volvo’s product revolution hits the mainstream compact exec sector with the new V60 attempting to take on the best estates Germany can offer

2018 Volvo V60 - Image 5

On the road

On the road

Volvo claims that few car makers can match its history and credibility in making well-designed, practical and versatile estate cars, but making the V60 more competitive is possibly the reinvigorated brand’s biggest challenge to date.

The XC90, XC60 and XC40 SUVs have all been very well received and picked up various UK and international awards, but the regular car ranges are where the Chinese-owned Swedish brand has more ground to make up.

The new executive-level V90 and S90 models have closed the gap on the excellent BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but it’s in this compact executive sector where competition is fiercest and Volvo has the greatest amount of work to do to offer a serious alternative.

The V60 is off to a good start, adopting the stylish design already seen across the more modern cars in the range, and our test vehicle received several positive comments from friends, family and passers-by that didn’t previously appreciate how much Volvo has morphed its styling into a modern and cutting-edge look. The dimensions and proportions are different from the old car’s; the new V60 is 126mm longer but 51mm lower, giving it a lower-slung and sportier look.

But that’s not at the expense of practicality, with boot space up a huge 99 litres on the old car’s to a total of 529 with the rear seats up, or
1441 litres with them dropped flat for big-time load-lugging. The 529-litre figure comfortably eclipses that of the car’s three main German rivals; the Audi A4 Avant is 24 litres behind, the BMW 3-series – due to be replaced in 2019 – is 34 litres down, and a Mercedes-Benz C-Class trails the Volvo by a full 69 litres.

The boot also features a very handy quartet of bag hooks where two is more normal, and a nice touch is that the button to drop the rear seats also includes a facility to drop the rear headrests. Too many times, rear seats drop, and then get wedged against the front ones because the headrests catch. The only negative is that there isn’t a drop switch inside the boot itself, so you have to reach over to the buttons on the top of the seats themselves.

Volvo has launched the V60 with its regular three trim level choices of Momentum, Inscription and R-Design, with each also getting a Pro pack of tantalising options bundled together for £3000 on Inscription, and £2250 on the rest of the range. Although the kit varies slightly depending on trim level, Pro adds elements such as keyless entry, active lights, head-up display, heated powered memory front seats and hands-free tailgate.

Equipment on all cars includes a powered tailgate, LED headlights with active high beam assist, dual-zone climate control, rear park assist and the 9.0-inch vertical central screen that dominates the cabin. Inscription is touted as the top model, although the sporty R-Design is actually £100 more than the £3500 step up from entry Momentum to Inscription. While R-Design is focused on exterior and interior cosmetic upgrades, Inscription adds higher-quality spec, such as leather interior, front parking sensors and silver roof rails, as well as chrome and wood cabin treatments.

The Big Test - Volvo V60
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Context

Context

Volvo’s smallest estate car is now entering its second generation under the V60 name, with the first version having been launched in 2010 as a direct rival to the premium German trio of Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3-Series Touring and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate.

Prior to that car’s arrival, Volvo had tended to sit slightly below its premium competition size-wise with the likes of the V50 (pictured), which was smaller than the German premium estate cars, and shared underpinnings with the Focus estate as Ford at that time owned Volvo.

The first V60 was described by Volvo as a sports wagon rather than an estate, because a washing machine wouldn’t fit into it, and although that wasn’t a primary goal with the new car, it will manage to transport most domestic appliances.

As well as being described as the “central point” of the brand, the V60 is a historic car, in that the Volvo has declared it will be the last new car it launches with a diesel engine. Everything hereafter, starting with the V60’s saloon sibling S60 next year, will have petrol, plug-in hybrid or electric powertrains, despite the firm expecting diesel to be the V60’s most popular power.

The Big Test - Volvo V60 - In Context - First Generation

What they said

What They Said

“The V60’s Scandinavian design is more than just stunning to look at – it offers function as well as form. From the best-in-class luggage capacity to having the Volvo On Call connected services as standard, the V60 has been designed with business in mind.

“Our latest estate also boasts industry-leading safety and connectivity technologies that will keep your business moving forwards safely.

“Set to retain its value better than premium competitors – according to Cap HPI – the V60 delivers on whole-life costs. Innovative, intuitive and stylish, the V60 is the most efficient choice for your fleet.”

Steve Beattie, head of business sales, Volvo Car UK

 

Steve Beattie, Head of Business Sales, Volvo Car UK

Comparatively speaking

The Big Test - Volvo V60 - Comparatively Speaking Chart

Need to know

The Big Test - Volvo V60 - Need to Know Chart

Like/dislike

Three things we like...

The Big Test - Volvo V60 - Three Things We Like - The headrests folding when you drop the rear seats is a neat touch
1

The headrests folding when you drop the rear seats is a neat touch

The Big Test - Volvo V60 - Three Things We Like - There are a handy two bag hooks on each side of the boot
2

There are a handy two bag hooks on each side of the boot

The Big Test - Volvo V60 - Three Things We Like - The little Swedish flag on the driver’s seat reminds of what you’re driving
3

The little Swedish flag on the driver’s seat reminds of what you’re driving

...And one we don't

The Big Test - Volvo V60 - And One We Don't - The navigation input isn’t the cleverest and is not set up for UK postcode formats
X

The navigation input isn’t the cleverest and is not set up for UK postcode formats

Verdict

Verdict

Drive  7/10

The 150hp diesel is the entry model, and the more powerful ones are predictably more punchy, but this D3-branded unit carries the V60 without too much work.

Efficiency  8/10

Mercedes’ C-Class is more efficient, but a car this size being under 120g/km is fine in the climate of a new testing regime.

Practicality  8/10

Class-leading boot space and a well-shaped boot. Better still, it isn’t at the expense of the decent rear passenger space.

Equipment  9/10

Safety equipment in particular is impressive, as you would expect from Volvo, with lots of clever tech fitted as standard. 

Looks  9/10

Volvo’s new models are stylish and attractive, and the V60 keeps up that modern classy look.

Comfort and refinement 8/10

Volvo normally fits comfortable seats and the V60 is no exception. Long-distance cruising is a breeze.

Cabin  9/10

Great quality and lovely design, the V60 interior is at least up with the class best.

Infotainment  7/10

One area where rivals are better. The big screen looks good, but the navigation system isn’t as user-friendly as others, and the screen could be more responsive.

Whole life costs  9/10

Priced to match the German competition, the V60 enjoys a residual value advantage over any of them, and the economy figure keeps fuel cost under control.

CCT opinion  9/10

The V60 is efficient, offers a high-quality interior, looks great and leads the class for RVs and, critically for estates, boot space.

VERDICT 83%

Volvo’s excellent form continues with the new V60, which is the Swedish brand’s best chance yet of breaking the monopoly of premium German wagons.

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