The Volvo V60 is a very desirable car; it looks good on the outside, and it has a modern and stylish interior environment – the question is whether you opt for this D4 diesel powertrain.
Volvo now has a completely updated vehicle line-up, with the exception of the V40. The V60 Estate is the most recent model to be revised – with the S60 Saloon arriving in 2019. At the moment you can choose from two diesel engines and one petrol. A plug-in hybrid is coming, but it’s not here yet.
The V60 shares its design approach with other recent Volvo models – this means that it looks stylish on the outside, and the interior has a modern, minimalistic, upmarket and ‘non-German’ feel. The V60 Estate is more practical than the S60 Saloon, but the boot isn’t huge.
The D4 model as tested has a 190hp 4 cylinder, 2-litre diesel engine, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive.
Along with other modern Volvos, your driving experience begins by interacting with the classy-looking start/stop switch located between the two front seats. Next to this is an equally individual drive mode selector. Although this looks impressive, you have to press, rotate and then press the switch again to select a drive mode, so it’s not actually the quickest system.
The sense of calm that the interior helps to generate is also what you’ll experience during motorway driving, when the V60 is quiet, refined and comfortable. There’s not much for the typical driver to complain about in the areas of steering, ride and handling, but as with most Volvos, the focus is on comfort rather than sporty dynamics, and the front-wheel drive chassis ultimately limits any claim that the V60 has to being a driver’s car.
Unlike some Volvos that we’ve reviewed, thankfully the automatic transmission in the V60 allows you to change gear manually – but you have to use the gear selector, as there are no steering wheel-mounted paddles.
If you spend the majority of your time sitting on motorways, the V60 is likely to be an enjoyable place to be – and it can be economical (see below). However our V60 had one major issue, which we assume wasn’t just unique to our test car. If you press the accelerator, there’s a huge delay before the car responds. When we say ‘huge’ delay, we actually timed it, and there was a 2-3 second lag. This may not sound a lot, but when you’re trying to overtake a very slow truck on the only overtaking section in over 10 miles of twisting, hilly roads, and you only have a couple of hundred metres to get past it before a corner, every millisecond counts, and a 2-3 second delay in response seconds feels like a lifetime. This was even the case in Dynamic drive mode.
When the V60 eventually responds, being front-wheel drive, the front wheels can scrabble for grip on cold and wet roads, with the result that the traction control system can cut in, so curtailing power again. If you do manage to get the revs up, the D4 engine can sound very strained.
It also appears that you can’t start to drive off, even at low speed, while putting your seat belt on at the same time – you have to have the belt fully secured before the car allows you to drive away. If you’re constantly getting in and out of the car and moving it for photographs, combined with the delay in the powertrain’s response, this can be very annoying – a photographer’s worst nightmare.
In terms of the infomedia system, we’re not huge fans of everything being controlled on a touchscreen, but the Volvo system is good, even if there are lots of menus and sub-menus hidden away on different screens – you need to do an iPad-like swipe to get access to a number of controls such as ESC Sport mode.
The vertical touchscreen is large, and you can squeeze the map to zoom in or out. The satnav directions appear on the central touchscreen, as well as between the instruments in front of the driver, as well as on the head-up display, and there are also spoken directions – so there really should be no excuse for getting lost. But the system didn’t predict traffic jams and it doesn’t show small roads.
The screen also shows a useful overhead view when reversing.
The official WLTP combined fuel economy for the Volvo V60 D4 is 61.4 mpg, with CO2 emissions of 122g/km. At a constant 50mph over 20 motorway miles we achieved 72.1mpg, which shows that the V60 D4 can be economical if driven carefully. We averaged 57.4mpg at motorway speeds of between 50-70mph. Overall, after a week of mixed driving, the V60 averaged 39.6mpg, which is significantly down on its official figure. The lack of immediate reaction to accelerator inputs is probably a factor in the relatively poor real-life economy, as you end up being more vigorous with the throttle in an effort to get a response.
The Volvo V60 range starts from £31,910 for the D3 Momentum. The V60 D4 Inscription Automatic, as tested, is available from £37,860. Our test car had options of Convenience pack (£500), Intellisafe Pro (£1,625), Winter pack with head up display (£1,275), Xenium pack (£1,800), Tinted windows (£600), Keyless drive (£500), Sensus connect with premium sound (£825), Smartphone integration (£300), temporary spare wheel (£150) and Metallic paint (£650), taking the total price of our test car to £46,085.
Trim levels are Momentum, Momentum Pro, R-Design, R-Design Pro, Inscription, Inscription Pro. Engine options are D3, D4 and T5, with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. All models are front-wheel drive.
Volvo has been successful in achieving a significant turnaround over recent years, with its latest models being very desirable, and offering a genuine alternative to the German brands of Audi, BMW and Mercedes. This statement also applies to the V60, which is stylish inside and out, as well as refined, comfortable, and economical for long motorway journeys. However the huge delay between pressing the accelerator and gaining a response spoils what is otherwise a potentially appealing all-round package, and it means that the V60 has this handicap despite a BMW 3 Series having instant responses. Our V60 press car also cost £46,000 when options were taken into account; you can get a very well-equipped BMW 335d Touring for this money, which is equally economical as the V60 in real life, but which offers huge amounts of extra performance, along with all-wheel drive.
We’re not into conspiracy theories, but it does make you wonder whether this delay in response hasn’t been ‘engineered out’ in order to make the plug-in hybrid powertrain seem more appealing, as there is typically no such delay due to the electric motor. The V60 Plug-in Hybrid isn’t on sale yet (all-wheel drive T6 and T8 Twin Engine versions are due) but we would lay bets on the Plug-in Hybrid being a better driving experience than the diesel powertrain. So the Volvo V60 D4 falls short of our high expectations for the brand and it ends up with a Green Car Guide rating of 7 out of 10.