★★★★ | Volvo V60
Estates have taken a bit of a battering in the last few years.
It seems that these days the default choice for those needing more room for cargo, dogs or dead bodies is a chunky crossover rather than a long-roofed car. All is not lost though, Volvo (who else?) is now offering a dash of off-road appeal to its V60 estate with this Cross Country model.
So what does it take to make the Cross Country variant? First, the suspension is jacked up by 65mm, not a vast amount but enough to give a noticeably loftier viewpoint on the world. Next, Volvo add silver skidplate effect bumpers front and rear with matching side skirts. Finally, you get chunky mud and snow tyres beneath plastic wheel arch extensions. All-wheel drive is an option but only on the most powerful engine.
While those changes may not sound like much, they do toughen up the V60 by a significant amount giving it a little more presence on the road. That the normal V60 is a pretty handsome thing doesn’t hurt at all. Inside feels very well put together and is attractive in a sober, Swedish kind of way. It may not immediately appeal but it proved to be a wonderfully calming, well-made environment in which to clock up the miles. This was helped by excellent seats with plenty of adjustment, clear instrumentation (especially with the optional TFT dials) and easy to follow sat-nav.
Our test car came with keyless entry and start. As long as the key was on you, you could unlock the car with a tug of the door handle and fire up the engine with the push of a button. You could even lock it again without the key fob in your hand. Nice. Once I was inside and ready to set off, I did notice the gearstick seemed a little bit too far back in the cabin with the cupholders unhelpfully beneath your arm as you changed gear.
On the road, the gearchange action itself was long but not unpleasant. Not that you had to stir the stick much, even with the lowest power engine the V60 CC proved surprisingly rapid. The 150hp unit may have been a little loud (although easily masked by a quality sound system) but had plenty of grunt; it always seemed faster than the 9.1 second sprint to 62mph suggested. Unfortunately thanks to those chunky tyres, there was a bit of torque steer and a fair amount of wheelspin even in second gear.
Pushing the V60 CC around bends highlighted the issues with putting a car on stilts. Turning the car into a bend over a crest could unsettle the rear while it did float a little over bumps too. The steering was well weighted but lacking any real feedback. To be fair though, it’s unlikely you’d buy one of these for its handling prowess. In a relaxed cruise it proved effortlessly comfortable, refined and pretty economical too. Over my usual mixed route, I was averaging around 44mpg. It’s just a shame that rough road surfaces did make things get a little jiggly. Yes, you can call it that.
I was also a little disappointed with the load space, or rather the lack of it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty more than something like a Ford Focus hatchback but not anywhere near as much as you’d think for a car of this size. Unfortunately in giving the V60 its svelte shape at the rear, boot space has been sacrificed. At least the cargo bay is a decent shape with no lip. On the subject of negative points, while the V60 CC range starts at £30,000, you’re looking at around £35,000 for an AWD model.
In summary, there’s a lot to like about the V60 Cross Country. The driving experience and high-quality interior combine to offer a relaxing experience while real world economy is more than acceptable. While you could argue that not offering AWD with all engines is a bit of an oversight, most people will buy these for the looks rather than for any off-road ability. Rivals may be cheaper but I doubt they’d feel quite this plush. Is it worth the premium? I think for many the answer will be yes.
Relaxing to drive
Boot smaller than expected
Lack of traction
Car – Volvo V60 Cross Country D3 SE Nav
Price – £30,995 (£35,545)
Power – 150hp
0-62mph – 9.1 seconds
Top Speed – 127mph
Co2 – 111g/km