Volvo did a clever thing at the launch of the new V60 estate.READ MORE...
During the presentation of the new car, they put up a slide which showed an old 960 estate from the 1990s. This was meant to symbolise the depressing conservatism of Volvo’s past and to make a vivid contrast with the unabashed stylishness of the brand as it is today.
Neil Lyndon has good taste for cars and really enjoys the Volvo V60
The trick worked a treat; but in my mind, it went even further. Looking at the photograph of that deadeningly rectangular lump of a 960, as stimulating as a house brick, I found myself thinking of people I knew who had bought one at the time. For every one of those devoutly middle-class people, the purpose of their choice of car was to advertise the fact that they were completely uninterested in cars as works of art or of display. They wanted the world to know that they were above such concerns and that they had chosen the Volvo primarily for its safety, its anonymity and its utility. Buying a 960 sent out a message that the owners knew nothing about cars, cared less and were unwaveringly smug in their values.
How dramatically different is the position of Volvo today, as amply demonstrated by the V60. With a succession of new models in this decade, ever since the investments of Geely Auto began to pay off with the XC90, they have turned out cars that are the acme of excellence for design, engineering, finish and quality. It has been an extraordinary story of one winner after another, driving total sales in the UK to more than 60,000 a year and a worldwide target of 800,000+. Anybody who knows anything about cars would now put a Volvo near to the top of the list of cars they’d buy first for their own garage. Choosing a Volvo today tells the world you’re a cutting-edge customer. It’s still a safe bet (nobody has been killed or seriously injured in an XC90 in the UK which makes it, at present, the safest car in the country) but Volvo is now putting other premium car manufacturers in the shade.
This is fully exemplified by the V60 which goes up against Audi’s A4 Avant, BNW’s 3 Series Touring and the Mercedes C-Class. To my mind, it trounces them all.
Volvo were stressing the family benefits of the V60 at the launch (even coming up with a particularly horrible neologism by calling it “human-centric”) and, indeed, I found it hard to imagine a car that could be more perfect for a family where one of the adults has to do a lot of driving for work. With the largest boot/load space of any premium compact estate, it also has more leg and elbow room in the back seats and is close to being a pure pleasure to drive.
Only a couple of little glitches fractionally marred the delight. The claimed figure of 61.4 mpg for combined fuel economy was at least a third more optimistic than our best figure; and I had a problem with the seat settings. I like to sit low in the driver’s seat and have the steering wheel adjusted to its farthest reach and its highest rake. The V60 was oddly awkward to set up in that position because the electrically-adjustable seat squab wouldn’t go low enough, leaving me perched too high like a child on a set of cushions.
Apart from those reservations, however, I found nothing to fault in the V60 in the driving experience of the car we enjoyed on a long drive in summer sunshine on empty roads into the North Yorkshire Moors. When you click through the options for transmission and suspension set-up and choose “Dynamic”, the V60 rewards the driver with a lovely cluster of qualities for high-speed cruising – quiet, secure, composed, slightly chuckable and with instantaneous overtaking acceleration from the 190 bhp D4 diesel with 400 Nm of torque.
If I had a job that put me on the road for 30,000 miles every year and if I also had to choose a car in which to drive a family from Scotland to Cornwall, the only one I might prefer to this V60 would be Volvo’s larger V90 estate. But the V60 looks so much like the V90 and costs about £10000 less than the £43835 price of our test car that, effectively, all you would be getting for your money would be an even bigger boot and a slightly larger measure of car in which to prove to the world that nobody has got better taste in cars than you.
Car reviewed: Volvo Volvo V60 D4 Momentum Pro Auto - On the road £37,210 model with options as tested £43,835 0-62mph 7.9 secs Top speed 137mph Fuel Economy combined 62.8mpg CO2 emissions 119g/km Engine 1969cc 4-cylinder diesel EU6.2 Max Power Engine 190hp@4250rpm Engine Torque 400Nm@1750rpm Transmission 8-speed automatic
One of the safest
Fantastically appointed interior
Very enjoyable to drive
Optimistic fuel consumption figures
What the others say about the Volvo V60 Estate on YouTube...
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