► The compact version of the V90
► More space in the back
► And more tech in the cabin
If you’re at all worried that choosing a Volvo might leave you without that feelgood buzz the premium Germans do so well, stop worrying – the V60 is a strikingly handsome, hugely accomplished estate with plenty to tempt BMW 3-series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 buyers.
The bold, confident but refreshingly restrained design cues of the first true post-Ford Volvo, the XC90, have translated beautifully to estate and saloon form, first with the bigger V90/S90 and now with the more wieldy V60/S60.
Inside, the cabin architecture also draws heavily on the talismanic big SUV, with a big, glossy, easy-to-use touchscreen, some beautiful detailing and great seats. Being a modern Volvo you also get myriad airbags, plenty of tech in Momentum Pro spec (adaptive cruise, HUD, lane-keep assist) and more space than German rivals, even with the rakishly chopped boot.
Can the Volvo V60’s boot really compete with the Germans?
If you regularly fill the boot and the rear seats, the V60 bests its competition with 529 litres to cram with suitcases, shopping and dogs compared with 490-505 litres for the C-Class, 3 Series and A4 respectively.
Drop the rear seats for a serious Ikea binge, however, and the tables are turned, with the Volvo offering just 1,441 litres compared with 1,500-1,510 for the Germans.
It gets worse if you considering the Passat Estate, which offers more than a Suzuki Jimny’s worth of extra space with the seats up – at 650 litres – and a Ford Focus’ worth extra with them dropped at 1,780 litres.
How fast is the Volvo V60 D4?
In D4 trim, the V60 packs 190hp and 295lb ft or torque – identical figures to the BMW 320d. Surprisingly, it’s the Volvo that’s the faster car, hitting 62mph in 7.9 seconds against 8.2 seconds for the BM.
The Merc C 220 d Estate, meanwhile, reverses that with a time of 7.0 seconds, while the A4 ties with the Swede.
The V60’s diesel motor is reasonably smooth and quiet, though it feels weedier than its acceleration figure suggests. This isn’t helped by the optional automatic gearbox, which is overly hesitant to kick down when cruising and as a result can cause the engine to vibrate unpleasantly.
Does the V60 drive well enough to take on the BMW 3 Series?
Despite short gearing for the auto ‘box, the V60 feels heavy and more suited to cruising than overtaking everything in sight. It’s not slow, but we wouldn’t want to step down to the 150hp D3, which requires an additional two seconds to amble to 62mph.
Satisfyingly weighty steering makes the V60 pleasant to thread along winding roads. It’s not sporty, but the direct, precise steering gives a good feeling of control and the suspension keeps the body nicely in check – provided you don’t barrel into corners.
How comfortable is the new Volvo V60?
Take it easy and the V60 provides a quiet, smooth ride – though the large 19-inch alloys do transmit rougher tarmac to the cabin – with little road or tyre noise. It may not float over broken roads like a Cadillac, but supremely comfortable front seats go some way to compensate.
Those in the front get tonnes of adjustment to tailor the seats to suit, and once you get it right you can be sure you won’t want to step out when you get home. These are seriously cushy chairs.
Those consigned to the back seats don’t get quite as good a deal. There’s more than enough head and legroom for six-footers, but if the front seats are positioned low, there’s little footroom for taller passengers and the middle passenger gets a raw deal, with the enormous transmission tunnel significantly eating into footroom.
The Audi A4’s interior is solid and easy to use, but the V60’s is far more appealing to sit in. With lovely soft leather in Inscription Pro form, the interior is comfy, tactile and can be specced in light shades, making it feel far more welcoming than the traditional Audi gloom.
Everything feels sturdy and high quality and if you want a full on light Scandinavian look, light leather and striking tweedy fabrics are standard on the entry-level model.
The media system is very similar to that in the V90 and XC60. This means a large portrait touch screen and slightly hard to read onscreen maps and fiddly touch controls when driving.
Yes, there are sophisticated voice controls and you’d be wise to use these when changing settings on the move rather than jabbing away at the touchscreen.
How’s the D3 diesel? ****
148bhp might sound faintly tragic for a family car but the D3’s a fine powerplant, assuming you’re happy to plan your overtakes. At around 1700kg the V60’s a not insubstantial car but it goes well enough thanks to the 2.0-litre turbodiesel’s ever-present torque and the slick, nicely calibrated eight-speed auto (with entirely pointless manual shift, should you fancy it).
Quiet, smooth and rarely heard, the D3’s more pleasant company than, say, its Jaguar equivalent, but never quite manages to fool you into thinking it might be a petrol – something BMW somehow manages.
Effortlessly punchy around town, the D3 does start to struggle when asked to quickly get up to motorway speeds from slip-roads and roundabouts, but it’s all relative – you won’t be holding anyone up. And your patience will likely be rewarded with at least 42mpg. (Volvo claims between 117g/km and 126g/km CO2 per mile, depending on wheel size and transmission option, and 58.9mpg for the auto on 19s).
New Volvo V60: verdict
The V60 isn’t the sharpest medium estate, but it is one of the most satisfying and very striking in the flesh. The boot is usefully big, it has a stylish, hugely comfortable cabin and tonnes of standard kit.
Throw in competitive prices and it’s a very appealing alternative to the A4, 3 Series and C-Class trio. If you need the biggest booted upmarket estate, the Passat is the wiser choice, though.