Making the shift to ‘easy driver’ is automatic one

Volvo’s V60 estate is more about versatility than volume, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

When I started out in motoring journalism diesel cars were few and far between and automatic ones were like hen’s teeth.
Now diesels account for just over half of all UK registrations and more and more owners are gearing up to automatics as transmission technology just gets better.
There was a time when automatics used to be confined to bigger engined models – nowadays not to offer that automatic choice wherever possible severely limits your potential audience.
I’ve just been driving Volvo’s V60 lifestyle estate with an automatic gearbox mated to the smallest 1.6-litre diesel engine and was pleasantly surprised by the experience.
OK it was more easy-going than entertaining but really came into its own on a long round trip mixing snarled-up urban traffic with the nip and tuck of overtaking on single-carriageway A roads and cut and thrust motorway cruising.
The Volvo V60 D2 Powershift took it all in its stride and 400 miles later
I got out feeling as relaxed as the stress-free journey had been.
The six-speed automatic is a bit hesitant changing up when cold but, once warmed up, shifts smoothly and is a pleasant and fuss-free way of getting from A to B – provided you are not in a hurry.
With only 115hp on tap, the 1.6-litre engine is more about MPG than
MPH – there’s bigger, more powerful diesels if you feel the need for speed.
It cruises comfortably but needs a firm foot with the auto box in sport mode to really get it going but, even so, the automatic returned a best of 57mpg and even managed about 50mpg running around and I expect many owners would do better with a light foot.
The V60 is more lifestyle estate than out-and-out load-lugger with a
430-litre boot with the seats up rising to 692 litres to the window line with the practical 40/20/40 split rear seat backs folded flat with the boot floor.
It’s a one-handed job folding them down but they’re heavy to lift back up into place. There’s a shallow under-floor storage tray and a useful panel which, once raised from the boot floor, helps prevent small loads sliding around.
The V60 drives well with comfort-biased suspension giving a generally smooth and supple ride and reassuringly confident road-holding.
The tasteful cabin has a quality, unfussy feel and is able to carry four large adults in comfort with shapely, supportive seats. The driving position is good, with the classy fascia having different instrument themes – elegance, eco and performance – but the mass of small buttons on the centre panel are off-putting until you find your way round them.
Offered in Business Edition, SE, SE Lux, R-Design and R-Design Lux, with satellite navigation versions as well, the V60 has attractive equipment levels with an emphasis on safety and electronic driver aids.

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