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Volvo V60 (2014 - 2018)

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By Jonathan Crouch

Introductionword count: 110

In case you hadn't heard, Volvo estates are curvier and sportier these days, as was ably demonstrated by the brand's MK1 model V60 when it was updated by the company in 2014. Despite its sleeker styling direction, the car never aimed to be a clone of its German mid-sized premium station wagon rivals, instead majoring in Volvo virtues like safety, comfort and practicality. Also included though, is a rewarding driving experience and the option of the class-leading combination of performance and efficiency you get with the Drive-E 2.0-litre D4 diesel engine that most original buyers chose. Potentially, it's a surprising package for the right kind of customer in this segment.

Modelsword count: 17

5dr estate (1.6, 2.0, 2.4 diesel [D2, D3, D4 & D5] / 1.5, 1.6 petrol [T3, T4])

Historyword count: 469

If you never imagined yourself owning a Volvo estate car, then this is the one the brand wants you to try - the V60. Estate cars, of course, 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 premium mid-sized executive wagons like Audi's A4 Avant and BMW's 3 Series Touring can't actually carry much more than the saloons upon which they're based. Now you wouldn't expect Volvo, the 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. And you'd be wrong. The Swedish maker 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 late in 2010 to return to it with this car - the V60. It's the facelifted post-2014 version of that MK1 design we look at from a used car perspective here. This, apparently, isn't an 'estate'. According to Volvo's publicity material, we're to call it a 'sports wagon'. We're not going to do that - but you've got the idea. The type of baggage that Gothenburg doesn't want this car to carry is the historical kind that might see this V60 associated with pipe-and-slippers-bound antique dealers for whom sheer driving pleasure is neither desirable or required. This was once a market Volvo was bound to, but the introduction of their BMW 3 Series-sized S60 saloon in mid-2010 changed all of that. Here was a car that really could reward at the wheel. Here was a car you could mention in the same breath as its German premium rivals. And here was a car ready and waiting for a sleek, low-slung, style-conscious estate variant. Exactly like this one. The V60's initial promise though, was never going to be completely fulfilled with the reliance on other people's engine technology it was first launched with. So, for the fully improved version launched early in 2014, Volvo brought us some of its own in a D4 diesel variant offering a combination of performance and efficiency that at the time, no rival could match. There were smarter looks too and extra technology, all delivered without sacrificing the substance and safety part of the brand value proposition. This improved design sold until it was replaced by an all-new MK2 V60 model in the Spring of 2018. Does it all add up to a decent used car buy if you're shopping in this segment? Let's see.

What You Getword count: 1020

Lots of people will have a clear picture in their head of what a Volvo estate looks like. This won't be it. Where old Volvo designs were a riot of right-angles, this one has barely a straight line on it, its so-called 'racetrack' design producing lines that flow organically into each other like the curves of a race circuit. It's not just different for the sake of being so though. The alert stance, short overhangs and sleek, low roofline make this car's silhouette closer to that of a coupe than a boxy estate. This updated MK1 V60 model got what Volvo describes as 'more focused and determined-looking headlamps', added to create what was intended to be a more 'expressive' front end. The V60's horizontal lines were also emphasised at both the front and rear and, together with details such as a wider grille and daylight running lights, the various changes gave this car a more striking, purposeful presence. Under the skin, there was a chassis originally borrowed from the Ford Mondeo, which means the underpinnings were exactly the same as those used in the brand's supposedly larger V70 estate and S80 saloon models. The sweeping styling takes its toll of course, when it comes to practicality. Though the 430-litre load bay is, as you'd expect, much bigger than the boot space on offer in this car's S60 saloon design stablemate, you're talking around 10% less cargo room than you'd get in the rivals Volvo hopes you'll be comparing this model to, cars like Audi's A4 Avant or BMW's 3 Series Touring. Volvo though, was unrepentant. For one thing, the company points out that the V60's seats-folded capacity of 1,421-litres is within a whisker of that boasted by its German rivals. For another, it reminds us that in an age when every shop will deliver bulky items, there aren't many buyers needing to transport them and for those that do, there were in this era V70s, XC70s and XC90s further up the Volvo range. In any case, it's undeniable that the 3-metre-long space that is on offer here is very accessible and easy to use. The rear bench splits 40/20/40 and drops down completely flat, while the front passenger seat can do likewise to further increase luggage space for really long items like surfboards and bikes. You get a lockable under-floor compartment to keep valuables away from prying eyes, plus net pockets and a grocery bag holder to keep your shopping upright. We especially like the shallow hinged compartment on the top of the boot floor. Lift up the flap and you can mess up the floor with muddy stuff. Then when you remove your wellies or whatever, the flap goes down again and you don't have to worry about cleaning the boot floor. Well not immediately anyway: out of sight, out of mind and all that. In the rear seat, you get marginally more headroom than you would in an S60 saloon, but otherwise, the accommodation on offer is much the same. Which means that there's comfortable room for two adults but, as with virtually every other car in this sector, adding a middle occupant would make things a bit tight on a journey of any real distance. That occupant wouldn't be especially comfortable either, thanks to the narrow, curved centre seat they've to be perched upon. Three children will be quite happy though. At the wheel ('the most important part of any car' according to Volvo's Head of Design) it's all very nice indeed, with a premium feel right across the V60 range that you only really get on the more expensive versions of BMW, Audi and Mercedes rivals from this era. The idea is that, like IKEA furniture, this cabin should be typically Scandinavian, comfortable, simple, intuitive and visually pleasing. And broadly it is thanks to a subtle redesign which here introduced smarter materials and silk metal frames around the air vents and light controls, plus a re-designed gear knob. One of the nicest touches that many original buyers shelled out for is the hi-tech TFT instrument display. With the flick of a switch, you can with this choose between three different dial layouts - an amber back-lit 'elegance' setting for comfort-orientated day-to-day motoring, an green back-lit 'eco' setting to help you drive more economically and a red back-lit 'performance' mode to better suit for more spirited driving: the kind of thing the Swedish brand hopes this second generation model's slightly lower driving position and smaller steering wheel will put you in the mood for. It'll also help in this respect that that the signature Volvo 'floating' centre console is angled more towards the driver for a greater 'cockpit'-style feel. That'll be familiar if you owned an early version of this MK1 V60 model. New to you though, will be the clever 'Sensus Connect' infotainment system that allows you to add connectivity and internet access into the car. This set-up turns the 7-inch infotainment display you get on the dash into a state-of-the-art infrared, beam-scanned touch screen that can be used even when wearing gloves - a world first. As a driver, you've the choice of going online either via a car-mounted 3G/4G dongle or by using your own mobile phone. Hi-tech features include a voice-activation system that works on all music sources and the industry's first in-dash, fully integrated, voice search Spotify application. It's also possible to share a WiFi network with everyone in the car. Of course, it's possible to get carried away with gadgetry like this and forget more crucial considerations. The seats for example. It's remarkable how little importance we attach to the things we'll be sitting on in our cars, given that we'll be spending many hundreds or thousands of hours in the things, and down the years Volvo has quietly earned a reputation for making the comfiest chairs in the business. This V60 continues that form line with what have to be the most supportive yet wonderfully pillowy seats in the compact executive saloon sector. The sports seat in the R-Design model is particularly good, positioning you beautifully throughout the longest drive.

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Category: Luxury Saloons and Estates

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
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