“It’s not an estate,” said Volvo European product and pricing manager Chris Wailes. “It’s a sports wagon.”
To most people, the new V60 – a ‘sports wagon’ version of the new S60 saloon – will be an estate, but Wailes said Volvo’s definition of an estate car was based on its ability to carry a washing machine with the rear seats in place.
The larger V70 certainly can, but the V60 cannot.
In fact, it makes do with a minimum of 430 litres luggage capacity with the rear seats in place, 11 litres more than the long-in-the-tooth Saab 9-3 Sportwagon (there’s that word again), but less than the BMW 3 Series Touring (460), Audi A4 Avant (485) and Mercedes-Benz C-Class (490).
And although Volvo claims the V60 is the company’s most ‘dynamic’ five-door car produced to date, it also shies away from comparison with the sector driver’s choice, the 3 Series Touring.
So what is the V60?
Anyone familiar with the new S60 saloon will know it’s a comfortable, refined and high-quality upper-medium car.
There is no precedent for an estate version of the S60 before now, so the V60 is likely to attract user-choosers from across the sector – people seeing it as an upgrade from brands like Ford, Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroën, as well as a few upsizing from Volvo’s own V50. And maybe one or two already driving a car with a posh badge.
While it might seem competitive with premium-badge rivals for space, anyone switching from mainstream brands will do so for reasons other than carrying capacity.
However, there is a dose of typical Volvo practicality.
The long-serving cargo area divider that keeps the weekly shopping, or other items, secure is here, and the rear seats fold in an easy action to create a completely flat load area.
Standard for all UK V60s is a fold-flat passenger seat, which extends the space considerably along one side of the car.
The V60 shares its range of engines with the S60, which means a new frugal five-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel in the D3 as well as the latest 205bhp D5.
One we hadn’t sampled before was the new T4 – a 180bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine.
A 150bhp T3 version of that engine will also be available, as well as a 240bhp 2.0-litre T5 and a 304bhp six-cylinder T6.
Using Ford’s EcoBoost cleaner petrol engine technology, Volvo expects CO2 emissions to be about 149g/km for the V60 with this engine and a manual gearbox.
This is mightily impressive for a powerful petrol.
However, Volvo thinks the diesel mix will reflect that of the S60 and take in excess of 80% of the 7,000 expected annual sales of V60.
Fleet sales will take about 70% of that volume, especially when a low-CO2 115bhp 1.6 DRIVe diesel arrives next summer.
Volvo will offer ES, SE and SE Lux equipment grades, but all versions will come with the company’s City Safety obstacle detection and braking system, alloy wheels, electronic climate control and cruise control.
Despite being described as dynamic by Volvo, the V60 doesn’t feel any sharper than its best estate rivals, but is still a decent drive.
The quality of the interior is impressive, with expensive-feeling materials and a simple and clear design.
We drove the D3 with the standard manual transmission, which felt a little cumbersome, while the Powershift auto we tried on the T4 was smooth, but slower to react than
the Volkswagen Group’s DSG transmission.
The V60 is a sleek and attractive practical family car for user-choosers who like the versatility of an estate without needing the carry-all abilities of some wagons.