Gareth Butterfield tests the Volvo V60 Cross Country
THE Volvo range is properly sorted now. In fact, you could argue it’s better than it’s ever been.
We’re still waiting for a “small” car to replace the V40 but it’s on its way and it looks really good, and from this size upwards there’s a Volvo to fill every niche. Honestly, it’s all, without exception, well worth a look.
If you want a big SUV, the XC90 is ideal. One of the best cars on the market, I’d say. If you don’t want an SUV, then go for the V90. If that’s still too big, go for the V60. But what if you wanted an estate car without losing the ability to take it off road from time to time? Well folks, this is the V60 Cross Country. It’s one of those brilliant antidotes to the global obsession with generally unnecessary SUVs and Volvo’s been at this game for a while, so you just know this one’s going to be good.
The V60 is Volvo’s mid-size estate car and it’s big enough for most families, but for the Cross Country version they’ve basically jacked up the suspension by 60mm, added all-wheel drive, hill-descent control and black plastic wheel-arch extensions.
To me it’s the perfect recipe for a car. You have the versatility and practicality of an estate car, avoid the many disadvantages of owning an high-riding SUV, but on those rare occasions when you need to cross a bumpy field, you’ll have no trouble at all.
This, I’m convinced, is Volvo’s sweet spot. It’s the car in their range I’d buy myself and it’s the one I’ve just spent a week getting to know.
Park it next to rivals from the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes and it’s far more handsome. Volvo’s styling might be becoming a tad predictable nowadays, but familiarity in this instance hasn’t bred any contempt. It looks clean, elegant and sophisticated.
And that’s even more true of the interior. I guarantee anyone who climbs into a current Volvo interior for the first time will be startled by how lovely the interiors are. They’re minimalist, in a truly Scandinavian way, but at the same time beautifully comfortable, logical and just refreshingly classy and luxurious.
Having said that, Volvo owners of old might feel a bit short-changed when they open the boot. The V60, like its larger V90 stable-mate, has a sloping roof-line and it does eat into practicality somewhat.
But even the smaller V60 still has 520 litres to play with behind the rear seats and with the seats folded away, it’s even larger. Legroom and headroom is also fine.
I know what you’re thinking. That soft suspension and increased ride height is going to play havoc with the handling. Well, not really. Sure, it does feel softer than the standard V60 but it’s certainly no marshmallow.
I actually quite like the softer ride. It’s refreshing these days, and the handling might not be as sharp as some rivals but it doesn’t pitch and wallow like you might expect.
There are two engines to choose from, a 250bhp T5 petrol lump which will be fun, but thirsty, and the pick of the bunch will be the D4 diesel that was in my test car. It has a healthy 190bhp, and should knock on the door of 50mpg.
Prices for the V60 start at around £40,000 and I know that sounds expensive but, trust me, it feels expensive and there are few cars for that price now that offer such a complete package.
And that’s what I love about the V60 Cross Country. It’s big and roomy without being tricky to park. It’s wonderfully luxurious without an executive price tag, and it will ride over most day-to-day terrains with ease.
It’s an accomplished all-rounder that’s very difficult not to thoroughly recommend.