Volvo V60 estate
Price: £21,750 - £39,435
- Stylish looks
- Very comfortable
- Loads of safety kit
- Underwhelming handling
- Smaller boot than rivals
- Not the most economical
"The V60 is a Volvo estate that puts style before practicality in an effort to compete with rivals from BMW and Audi."
The Volvo V60 is the estate version of the Volvo S60 saloon and it takes aim at the estate versions of premium rivals like the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. Many people will associate the Volvo brand with clumsy, boxy styling that puts safety and practicality before looks, but the V60 is very different from the stereotypical view of the Swedish brand's cars. It's stylish and sleek looks aren’t the extent of its talents - it's also well built, comfortable and loaded with safety technology.
Running costs are low too, thanks to a range of economical engines and a hybrid version that will do an incredible 150mpg with emissions of just 49g/km CO2. But, amazingly, the V60 is actually smaller inside than similar sized rivals, so it's not the most practical car in class. It is, in fact, a Volvo that's put style before practicality.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Hybrid model offers incredible economy and emissions
By far the most efficient model in the V60 range is the hybrid version. It will do 150mpg with emissions of just 49g/km CO2, so it's exempt from road tax and will use little more than a trickle of fuel per mile. But it is very expensive, so you’ll need to make sure that the money you save in running costs outweighs the added expense of buying the car.
The 1.6-litre D2 diesel engine is the best value engine in the range. It does 65.7mpg and emits 114g/km CO2. The D3 and D4 diesel engines offer identical fuel economy and emissions but are a bit more expensive to buy. The top spec D5 diesel engine isn’t as efficient – although emissions are still a relatively low 119g/km CO2. But all the diesel engines are smooth, powerful and great all-round performers.
Interior & comfort
Interior is great quality and the car is really comfortable
The interior of the V60 is every bit as stylish as the exterior. It features an elegant floating dashboard, and all the controls are neatly and logically laid out. Build quality is excellent, too – it all feels well put together and the materials are first rate.
Comfort levels are similarly impressive. The interior feels spacious and the seats are so soft and supportive they feel almost like armchairs, so getting comfortable is not an issue at all. The only black spot on the Volvo's scorecard in this department is headroom in the back – the car's sloping roofline eats into the space, meaning taller passengers may find their heads touching the roof.
Practicality & boot space
Boot space is useable but a lot smaller than rivals’
There are a number of clever touches in the V60 that help to boost practicality. For example, the boot features a fold-out divider in the floor with built-in retaining straps to help secure loads. And there are plenty of storage cubbyholes dotted around the cabin, too.
There are, however, two issues with the practicality of the V60. One, headroom in the rear is a bit cramped and, two, the boot is a lot smaller than rivals. It has 430 litres of capacity which is a whole 60 litres smaller than the boot on the Audi A4 Avant and a massive 123 litres less than the Hyundai i40 Tourer's. While we can understand Volvo wanting to improve the design and desirability of its cars, we can’t understand why it would compromise practicality to this extent. The split-folding rear seats do fold completely flat, but even then there is only 1,246 litres of space, which is 59 litres less than what's available in a Volkswagen Golf hatchback. In fact, you get almost as much space in the Peugeot 208 supermini with the rear seats folded.
Reliability & safety
Volvos have always had a great reputation for reliability and safety
Volvo has a reputation for making the safest cars around, so it's no surprise that it received the maximum five-stars in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests. In fact, the V60 actually has the best safety score in its class, including 100 per cent in the safety assist category. It's not surprising when you take a look at the extensive list of safety equipment that comes as standard: six airbags, electronic stability control and City Safe – which helps to prevent low-speed accidents. And there is a Driver Support Pack available as an optional extra that adds a blind spot warning system, lane-change alerts, a pedestrian detection system and autobrake to prevent collisions.
Reliability shouldn’t be a concern, either. The V60 is very high quality and the Volvo brand is one of the most highly rated in the country. It came eighth in the manufacturer chart in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, ahead of brands like Audi and BMW.
Engines, drive & performance
The V60’s performance doesn’t quite live up to its sporty looks
The V60 may look sporty enough to be a serious rival to the BMW 3 Series Touring for driving thrills, but the reality is very different. It's a competent but unexciting car to drive, and at its best when cruising on the motorway where its superb comfort levels really shine. All the diesel engines in the range are excellent, though. There's the 114bhp 1.6-litre D2, 135bhp 2.0-litre D3, 180bhp 2.0-litre D4 and the 213bhp 2.2-litre D5. The D2 may be a little short of power if you plan on regularly carrying heavy loads, but the others all offer plenty. Those who crave even more performance should look to the T6, which gets a 304bhp turbocharged V6 engine and will go from 0-60mph in just 5.6 seconds – which is breathtakingly quick for an estate car.
Price, value for money & options
Offers better value for money than premium rivals
The Volvo brand doesn’t carry quite the same prestige and desirability as its German rivals, so it has to offer good value for money. And the V60 isn’t just priced competitively compared to the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3 Series Touring, it also comes with a lot of equipment. There are five spec levels: Business Edition, SE, SE Lux, R-Design, and R-Design Lux. Even entry-level models get climate control, alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, heated door mirrors, cruise control, sat-nav, digital radio and rear parking sensors as standard. The added equipment on higher spec cars mainly consists of cosmetic upgrades. And Volvos have strong resale values, so you won’t take too much of a financial hit when it comes time to sell the car on.
What the others say
It's the curvy estate that aims to shed Volvo's sensible image, and Auto Express has driven it first in the UK! But the V60 faces some stiff competition from the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3-Series Touring – so has it got what it takes to stand out from the crowd?
Much more sleek than previous Volvo estates, clever safety systems, impressive direct injected petrol engines, comfortable seats, nice sound from five-cylinder D3 and D5 diesels.
Volvo has launched the V60 as a sports wagon and not as a traditional estate car. The official reason is that the car manufacturer wanted to make a vehicle with a coupe-like design, strong driving characteristics and good level of practicality. The S60 saloon forms the basis of the V60 but the sports wagon is a better looking car.
The V60 has a classy, comfortable and spacious cabin. It's keenly priced and comes with a huge array of standard and optional safety kit.
Last updated: 12 Feb 2014