Road Test: Volvo V60 T3 R-Design Premium
The latest V60 is designed to offer the usual Volvo estate attributes of space and safety, but it is wrapped in sleek styling and like the S60 before it, promises a more dynamic drive.
Has Volvo succeeded? I spent a week with this £31,570 T3 R-Design Premium to find out.
The V60 looks are a surprise, as the estate styling is even better than the attractive S60 that came before it. It might be a slick design, but for Volvo fans there are enough typical styling cues, meaning it couldn't be a car from any other manufacturer.
These include the characteristic family grille that dominates the V60's face, but it's much sleeker and looks attractively modern with the swept-back head and driving lamps, similar to the XC60 soft-roader.
From the side, the slim, coupe-like roof line remains. The most distinctive part of the V60's rear styling is the big glass screen, which looks like the tailgate on its own. Then there are the stylish tail lamps that stretch up towards the roof, the sculpted boot design and bumper with rear diffuser, that's part of the R-Design body kit.
The shape suits some colours better than others and the Passion Red paint job enhanced the V60's curves.
Inside, the V60 is unchanged from the S60 that came before it. I still like the 'floating' centre console, which is tilted towards the driver and the infotainment system which is a big improvement on Volvos of old.
The quality of the plastics and metal inlays are at least as good as many rivals and the standard seats are a comfortable place to spend motorway time. Despite the sloping roof line, rear head and visibility are excellent and Volvo have even managed to find an extra 20mm for rear passengers. There's also a practically shaped 430 litre boot, that has some useful under floor stowage.
It might be a looker, but does the V60 deliver on the road? The answer is a bit of a mixed bag; the R-Design's 15mm lower ride height, 18-inch "Ixion" alloy wheels, stiffer springs, revised dampers and a front strut brace give sharper handling and a sportier feel, but this is at the expense of a comfortable ride.
However, there's no doubt that this car is underpinned by a really capable chassis and has accurate steering, with taut handling.
The 150PS 1.6-litre T3 petrol might be the entry-level engine in the V60 range, but its gutsy performance seems at odds with the modest 127mph top speed and the 9.2 second 0-60mph figures.
To sum up, the V60 is a stylish, well-equipped and spacious car that majors on safety. Let's hope its sleek styling previews a next generation of elegant estates from the Swedes.