ROAD TEST: Volvo V60, a tale of the unexpected

Volvo V60
Volvo V60
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In case you hadn’t heard, Volvo estates are curvier and sportier these days, as is ably demonstrated by the improved version of this V60.

Despite its sleeker styling direction, the car isn’t a clone of the German compact executive rivals, still majoring in Volvo virtues like safety, comfort and practicality. Also included though, is a rewarding driving experience and a fine set of petrol and diesel engines.

The line-up of engines available to Volvo hasn’t looked this good for a while and the V60 benefits from some of the best. There’s a 304bhp T6 model at the top of the range with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine that can propel the V60 past 60mph in 6.6s but it won’t be a big seller. A more realistic option is the 1.6-litre GTDi petrol engine that offers 150bhp in the T3.

The diesels range from the 215bhp 2.4-litre D5, which with 440Nm has almost as much torque as the T6 petrol, to what could well be the V60’s best power option, the D2 diesel’s 1.6-litre unit with 115bhp and 270Nm of torque which makes the trip from standstill to 62mph in 11.3s and economy is strong. At the top of the line-up is the Plug-in Hybrid version which mates the D5’s 2.4-litre diesel engine with a 69bhp electric motor. All V60 models get a six speed manual gearbox as standard but with selected engines, there’s the option of a Geartronic automatic or the clever Powershift dual clutch transmission.

Interestingly, there are three chassis set-ups available to V60 buyers which govern how the car performs on the road. The Dynamic chassis is fitted as standard in the UK. Then there’s a firmer, more sporting set-up offered with the R-Design Lowered Sport Chassis option. The final option is the Volvo FOUR-C (Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept), an active suspension that allows drivers to select their preferred settings when on the move. Advanced Stability Control is standard, as is Corner Traction Control which acts like a limited slip differential to control understeer when cornering.

Lots of people will have a clear picture in their head of what a Volvo estate looks like but the V60 is quite a departure from that. It employs what Volvo calls its ‘racetrack’ design with the lines of the car flowing organically into each other like the curves of a race circuit. Boxy it ain’t.

Changes to this latest version are subtle. A redesigned bonnet incorporate extra flowing creases, while the revised headlights incorporate a cornering function and an auto-dimming main beam. There’s also a revised bumper with extra chrome trim – and daytime running lights. You’ll find a sleeker rear bumper too.

Volvo estates aren’t what they used to be – and in this case, that’s a very good thing. This improved V60 will, I think, find it easier than its S60 saloon stablemate to conquest sales from German rivals: indeed, many Volvo customers who started out looking at that four-door will find this car mighty difficult to resist.

This is then, a tale of the unexpected, both in style and speed.