Swedish taking on Germans, discovers Jack McKeown.
Few car makers have overhauled their image as successfully as Volvo.
Over the past five years the Swedish company has released a series of beautiful cars that make rivals from premium German marques look almost fogeyish.
The latest model to join the ranks is the V60 estate car. It rides on the “scalable product architecture” platform that underpins stablemates including the XC60, XC90 and V90.
At 10cm longer than the old V60 it will now jut out beyond the nose of Audi A4, BMW 3 Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class estates.
That makes for more internal space. The new V60 can swallow 529 litres of contents with the rear seats up – almost 100 litres more than its predecessor.
Hardly unexpectedly, given it’s bigger and aiming at a more premium market, the V60 has gone up in price. Volvo has also dropped the previous entry level trim, and the car now starts at just under £32,000.
A 250bhp petrol engine is available and several hybrid variants will be added down the line. For now, though, diesel power is the mainstay of the range.
There are a pair of 2.0 litre units, the D3 and D4, which offer 150 and 180bhp respectively.
Both are good units (Facts panel is for the more powerful version) pulling strongly and muting into the background once you’re up to speed.
Entry level Momentum cars come with most of the kit you could want, including an electric tailgate, satnav and dual zone climate control.
Volvo is now pushing Audi as the maker of the best premium car interiors. All V60s come with a 12.3in display in place of an old fashioned analogue speedo and rev counter – Audi charges extra for its similar “Virtual Cockpit.”
There’s also a 9.0in iPad style screen that controls radio, music, heating and satnav functions.
The front seats are almost as cushioned as your favourite armchair and there’s enough legroom in the rear for all but the tallest of adults. Volvo uses a lighter colour palette than its German rivals, which favour predominantly black interiors.
While it doesn’t handle with quite the aplomb of a 3 Series, the Volvo’s surprisingly entertaining to drive. Ease off the throttle and it settles back comfortably ready to eat up the miles.