A lifestyle choice: Volvo V60 D3

Curves are in at Volvo, and nowhere is this more obvious than with the Swedish car maker’s new premium model, the S60. Having gradually moved away from its signature boxy models of old, Volvo is now steadily embracing the lifestyle end of the affordable executive market.

And with the V60, Volvo also has a medium-size holdall to compliment its line-up. But whatever you do, don’t view the V60 as an estate car. Its maker is keen to suggest that its curvy V60 is closer to a five-door fastback than utilitarian load-lugger.

This might sound odd from a company synonymous with old-fashioned wagons. Cast your eye around the marketplace and, in reality, the V60 is in good company. For buy-ers seeking something more practical than a saloon but not interested in the MPVs or SUVs, the V60 should prove attractive.

Visually the V60 has a lot going for it. Like the S60 saloon, Volvo’s mid-size ‘sport-wagon’ cuts a streamlined and aerodynamic profile. And while everything from the nose to the rear doors will look familiar to Volvo fans, the V60’s business end has been at-tractively styled and its tailgate requires little effort to operate, revealing a useful load area.

On paper the car’s carrying capacity might appear modest – 430 litres with the seats up, 1,241litres with the rear seats folded forward – but this is only half the story. The car’s low load lip and the ability to flip those rear seats one handed are genuine real world at-tractions. For added flexibility the rear splits 40/20/40, a combination that often proves more versatile than the traditional 60/40 split.

Traditionalists might think that Volvo has, with the arrival of the V60, abandoned its core buyers. This is of course nonsense; if you need to regularly transport large items the V70 remains the weapon of choice. What the V60 does is add a softer, more inclusive element to Volvo’s range.

And it does it with a generous amount of style. Aside from the clever built in touches – unusual seat split ratio, one handed folding mechanism – you can opt for a flip up boot divide to ensure that your shopping stays put when on the move, plus the boot floor compartment allows you to hide your valuables.

For the vast majority of buyers, such practical features should easily outweigh concerns over load space. In reality, the car offers plenty of room for a growing family and the V60’s compact fastback profile certainly makes it more appealing than a big rectangular tin box on wheels when it comes to parking and general urban driving duties.
Another reason to cheer the V60’s svelte footprint is the driving experience. Largely mir-roring the S60 saloon, Volvo’s sportwagon delivers an agile and poised performance. Like the cabin and equipment levels, the two cars share an impressive range of petrol and diesel engines. And with the latter expected to dominate the sales charts, the five-cylinder D3 and D5 motors do a fine job.

Both offer wallet-friendly levels of economy and emissions, with the 163 horsepower D3 delivering 51.4mpg and 144g/km CO2 respectively, and the 205 horsepower D5 motor outputs a respectable 52.3mpg and 142g/km CO2. Obviously those figures drop slightly when you add Volvo’s Geartronic auto transmission, but at least the option is there and it’s likely to please buyers after an easy to drive tow car combination.

With the V60 sharing the S60’s wide range of standard and optional safety kit, buyers of the former have access to clever features such as City Safety – helping to slow the car to avoid low speed urban impacts – plus active cruise control, lane departure warning, auto braking to mitigate a high speed impact and a blind spot warning.

The arrival of the V60 brings Volvo’s tally of estate cars to three. With the firm’s V40 viewed internally as a compact hatchback with added versatility and the big V70 as the true workhorse of the range, the V60 finds itself occupying the middle ground. For many this ‘just right’ option will be the perfect addition to their life and offers a polished blend of space, style and performance.

Model: Volvo V60 D3 SE Premium, from £28,960. Range from £24,960.
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel unit developing 163bhp.
Transmission: 6-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels.
Performance: Maximum speed 137mph, 0-62mph 9.4 seconds.
Economy: 51.4mpg.
CO2 Rating: 144g/km.

By Iain Dooley

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