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LIFE BEGINS AT SIXTY? (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
The second generation V60 aims to reinterpret the whole idea of what a mid-sized Volvo estate car should be. Jonathan Crouch drives the D4 diesel version.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 89
In case you hadn't heard, Volvo estates are smarter and sportier these days, as is ably demonstrated by this much improved second generation V60. Despite its sleeker styling direction, the car isn't a clone of its German mid-sized station wagon premium segment rivals, still majoring in Volvo virtues like exemplary safety, cosseting comfort and versatile practicality. This D4 diesel version also delivers a very accomplished driving experience and some very clever technological touches. Volvo brands this car 'the ultimate lifestyle enabler'. We simply call it a potentially surprising package.
Backgroundword count: 188
Estate cars used to be things you bought to carry around loads of kit. Not any more. These days, most people wanting to do that will buy an MPV or an SUV. Leaving estates to focus almost completely on style and driving dynamics. Which is why compact mid-sized premium-branded wagons like Audi's A4 Avant and Mercedes' C-Class Estate can't actually carry much more than the saloons upon which they're based. Now you wouldn't expect Volvo, a solid, traditional brand that pioneered the kind of boxy estate car into which you could fit a fridge (or several), to want much to do with this kind of trendy form over function approach. But you'd be wrong. The Swedish brand actually invented this style-conscious market niche long before the German brands turned up, bringing us the classic P1800E model that Roger Moore drove as 'The Saint' way back in the Sixties. But it took them until 2010 to return to it with the first generation version of their V60 model. That car wasn't quite good enough to significantly trouble its dominant German-branded rivals. But this design, its successor, might well be.
Driving Experienceword count: 266
You might not be approaching the idea of driving a Volvo estate with much enthusiasm, but this second generation V60 is actually surprisingly agile and adept, thanks in large part to its stiff 'SPA' platform architecture. It doesn't handle quite as sharply as some rivals because it has other, arguably more important priorities. And recognises that for some, driving enjoyment can also come with a lowering, rather than a raising, of the heartbeat. The well-judged set-up of the standard 'Dynamic Chassis' suspension set-up helps here, which provides the best balance of any Volvo we've yet tried when it comes to the contrary objectives of comfort and composed body control. The optional 'Active Four-C Chassis' package gives you adaptive damping, but you don't really need it. All variants get Volvo's usual 'Drive Mode Settings' driving dynamics system via which you can tailor throttle response, steering feel and the timings of the optional 8-speed auto gearbox to suit the way you want to drive. As for engines, well as usual with Volvo these days, they're all four cylinders and 2.0-litres in size. The company's future plans for its conventional powerplants are centred around 48-valve mild hybrid technology, but from launch, this MK2 V60's model range was primary based around non-electrified petrol and diesel units. Most buyers favour the black pump-fuelled units, either the 150hp D3 or the 190hp D4 we tried - which offers a 400Nm torque output facilitating a 2.0-tonned braking towing capacity and allowing this variant to reach 137mph and sprint to 62mph in a 7.9s time that's actually slightly quicker than a rival BMW 320d.
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Category: Luxury Saloons and Estates
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