£23,275 - £52,525 Price range
34 - 155 MPG
The Volvo V60 is an estate car built to take on the likes of the BMW 3 Series Touring, Mercedes C-Class estate and much larger, but similarly priced, Skoda Superb estate. Buy the V60 from one of carwow’s trusted dealers and you stand to make an average saving of £6,750.
Drop into the V60’s driver’s seat and you’ll be greeted by an interior design with a distinctive Volvo flavour that mostly comes thanks to the centre console that seems to float away from the rest of the dashboard. The extremely comfortable seats, which seem to follow the contours of your back perfectly, are another highlight. These points aside, though, the cabin is starting to look dated and the boot is smaller than any of its main rivals.
The V60 uses the same underpinnings as the Ford Mondeo and that is one of the most fun cars to drive in its class. The Volvo is not as fun, but much more comfortable and the ride is more forgiving. Although rough roads can unsettle the car, most of the time it glides along like nicely.
There are many engines to choose from, both petrol and diesel as well as a hybrid. On one end of the spectrum is the D2 1.6-litre diesel that is very frugal and on the other is the D6 with a twin-turbocharged 2.4-litre diesel capable of 0-62mph times of around 5.8 seconds. Our pick would be the 2.0-litre D3 diesel because it’s fast enough and still very cheap to run.
One area the Volvo V60 still leads the way in is safety and it was one of the first models to come fitted with automatic emergency braking as standard. Business Edition trim is the cheapest in the range and the only one to complete with sat-nav at no extra cost.
Cheapest to buy: T3 Business Edition petrol
Cheapest to run: D2 Business Edition diesel
Fastest model: D6 R-Design diesel
Most popular: D3 Business Edition
The interior finds plenty of fans. Its stylish, high-quality features suit the exterior styling. Comfort levels are very good, and quality is close to the best in class.
Some years ago now Volvo elected to ditch the boxy styling of its old models in favour of something significantly more stylish, but that can be noticed when it comes to interior space, which is no longer as generous as it used to be.
Volvo V60 passenger space
Sit in one of the Volvo V60’s front seats and you are unlikely to find much to complain about – there’s plenty of headroom and space to stretch your legs, but the car’s slopping roofline is apparent if you jump in the back. There six-footers will find headroom a real issue, although kneeroom isn’t such problem.
Cubbyholes are plentiful, though, and you’ll be pleased to find the doorbins can swallow a large bottle of water and there’s a big glovebox. That floating centre console also serves a purpose, with a storage tray hidden behind it – perfect for loose change and keys.
Volvo V60 boot space
You might expect a huge boot capacity from a Volvo estate, but you’ll be disappointed when it comes to the V60. Its 430-litre boot is smaller than the one in the BMW 3 Series Touring (495 litres) and the Mercedes C-Class estate (490 litres) and may as well be a galaxy away from the 633 litres offered by the Skoda Superb estate. Dropping the Volvo’s rear seats doesn’t change things, with its total capacity of 1,246 litres still falling well behind that of its competitors.
While the V60 is no rival to the BMW 3-series in terms of handling, the stiffer R-Design version is pretty adept when it comes to faster cornering, but suffers from less comfortable suspension – a direct result of the model’s larger wheels and stiffer suspension.
Although some models are available with four-wheel drive the majority are front-wheel drive and can’t offer the cornering grip or sense of engagement offered by rear-wheel-drive models such as the Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series.
Where the Volvo really excels is in motorway driving. There its suspension doesn’t suffer from the crashing over bumps experienced at lower speeds and the interior is extremely quiet. Combine these strongpoints with the car’s superbly comfortable seats, which seem to eliminate back ache, and it’s easy to see why Volvos remain so popular with traffic police.
The V60’s engine range received a major overhaul halfway through the model’s life with petrol models being ditched, largely, in favour of a revised diesel line-up. As a result only the T3 offers petrol power, while the D2, D3 and D4 use diesel, and the D6 plug-in hybrid combines a diesel engine with an electric motor.
Volvo V60 petrol engines
As with most competitors, Volvo uses turbochargers to boost the performance of its petrol models, but not at the expense of running costs and the T3 is a case in point. With 0-62mph taking 8.7 seconds it never feels overly slow and while its top speed of 127mph is largely irrelevant to most people, it does mean the car has plenty more to give at motorway speeds. Runnings costs are pretty well contained for a large petrol-powered car, with fuel economy of 48.7mpg possible and CO2 emission of 135g/km meaning road tax comes in at £140 a year.
Volvo V60 diesel engines
Really, though, you would be mad not to choose one of the diesel models, the cheapest of which is the D2, which is capable of nearly 80mpg and free to tax. Its low running costs are definitely tempting, but the performance certainly isn’t and with 118hp (0-62mph takes 11.5 seconds) it can feel ponderous.
The 148hp D3 shaves more than two seconds of the D2’s 0-62mph time, returns fuel economy of 76.3mpg and will set you back £20 annually in road tax.
But it’s the D4 that’s the star of the show. With 187hp it can get from 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds and keeps on going until a top speed of 140mph, yet somehow manages to return fuel economy of 70.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 104g/km so that road tax is just £20 a year. It’s one of the best diesels offered in the class, never mind the V60 range.
That leaves just the D6 diesel-electric hybrid model and of the entire range it’s the hardest to recommend. True its ultra low emissions mean it is exempt from London’s congestion charge, but its huge list price negates the car’s low running costs for most drivers.
The reviews of the Volvo V60 D3 are generally very positive. The experts say it’s a nice engine that cruises well, isn’t noisy at speed and is fairly responsive.
Diesel engines tend to be the ones to go for in larger cars these days, and it’s no exception for the V60 - and in this case, the 163-horsepower D3 looks like being the one to go for.
The engine is a 5-cylinder unit, that endows it with a smoothness not as frequently found in engines with one fewer cylinder, and you get a decent “mph and mpg” mix from the frugal unit.
Once the engine is up to speed there’s plenty of grunt on offer, though a few tests did say it’s a little lethargic at lower revs, probably as a result of long gearing. That gearing contributes towards a combined economy figure of 51.4mpg, a figure that rises to 55.4mpg with start-stop. Road tax is relatively inexpensive, at £115 a year. Couple that to a sub-10-second 0-60mph time and you can appreciate the mix of performance and economy the D3 provides.
All the trim levels on the D3 come with plenty of kit, so you shouldn’t have to spend too much on options either.
In summary, experts generally say the D3 is the best all-round engine available with the V60, it’s the one to go for.
The Volvo V60 D5 reviews are fairly positive, but some say that it doesn’t offer a lot over the cheaper and slightly more efficient D3 engine.
Broadly similar to the less powerful D3 motor, the D5 uses an extra turbocharger to raise power to 205bhp and increases torque, too. Being a five-cylinder unit, it even makes a pleasant noise by typical diesel standards - a slightly offbeat thrum thanks to that extra cylinder. One test in particular rates it higher than the four-cylinder offered by rival, Mercedes-Benz.
There’s plenty of performance on offer, and the six-speed manual gearbox is rated highly too, being smooth and easy to use - probably even preferable to the automatic option. The auto can shift into high gears a little too early sometimes - good for economy, not as good for making progress. Even so, the auto is considerably less economical at 45.6mpg, than the start-stop manual is at 57.6mpg.
Only the D5’s expense over the nearly-as-good D3 could really be an issue. So go for the D5 only if you want slightly more poke or regularly tow heavy loads, otherwise the D3 should suit you fine.
The reviews of the V60 DRIVe are generally impressive, but this encomical engines isn’t without its downsides.
As you can probably tell from the in-vogue “e” suffix, the DRIVe is Volvo’s ultra-economical model - and given that this relatively large estate car manages 62.8mpg on the combined cycle, you have to say the eco tweaks have been worth it. The 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel produces around 115bhp, which offers what testers describe as “adequate” performance, and that huge economy potential.
Road tax is only £30 a year (free in the first year) thanks to low CO2 emissions. It’s decent enough to drive too - testers admit it isn’t quick, but that diesel torque offers suitable pulling power and the engine remains refined too, particularly on the motorway. Probably the best news for fashion-conscious buyers is that you can specify the sporty R-Design package, turning your eco-wagon into a sporty looking estate - and nobody is any the wiser.
If you want to save as much money on fuel as possible (and who doesn’t!), then the 1.6 DRIVe is well worth considering. If you think however the slow acceleration could annoy you then go for the D3 instead.
However, one review suggests that the car never feels as quick as the figures suggest, and both reviews you’ll see below appear to point the finger of blame at the automatic gearbox, which prefers to use revs than allowing you to ride out that wave of torque.
This makes progress a bit noisy, and not that economical. Official combined with the auto is 37.7mpg. This suggests two things - you’re better off with the 42.2mpg manual option, and even better off with one of Volvo’s excellent diesels.
However, the road test below suggests that it’s not particularly exciting, with a subdued exhaust note. For some, the subtlety will be welcome and it undoubtedly makes for a relaxing long-distance companion, but then you might prefer the greater economy of some of the diesel models.
34.9mpg isn’t bad from a quick petrol car, but at today’s fuel prices the cost over longer distances might start to get off-putting.
There’s plenty of pace on offer. The throttle is sensitive, but some complain this makes it hard to drive smoothly, particularly with Volvo’s sub-par automatic transmission that hunts around for ratios a bit. It would be better served with some paddles behind the steering wheel.
Then there’s the issue of cost - not just purchase price, but running costs too. It’ll cost you £445 a year to tax, and at an average of 28.5 mpg, petrol will get pretty expensive too. It’s a fun car, but not necessarily a sensible purchase.
ABS and stability control are nothing new, but there’s also something called City Safety System, which automatically applies brakes should its radar sense a crash is about to happen. Add the optional Driver Support pack and the V60 gets blind-spot detection, cruise control, lane-change warning, and pedestrian detection.
Five core trim levels are offered in the V60 line-up, ranging from the basic Business Edition to the sporty-looking R-Design Lux and the rugged V60 Cross Country. Strangely, sat-nav only comes as standard on the base car – it’s fitted on all BMW 3 Series models – with Volvo choosing to offer it as an option on the rest of the range.
Volvo V60 Business Edition
The biggest selling point of Business edition trim is its standard fit sat-nav, which is operated via a seven-inch colour display. The rest of the kit is less worthy of note, but includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a digital radio, climate control and a Bluetooth phone connection.
Volvo V60 R-Design
Although there are a few other trim levels to choose from, R-Design is one of the most popular with buyers and lends the Volvo more distinctive looks. They come courtesy of big 18-inch alloy wheels, lowered suspension, matt silver door mirrors and a rear bumper with integrated exhaust exits. The sporty touches aren’t reserved for the exterior, inside there’s also sports seats with added lateral support, a leather bound steering wheel and aluminium interior trim.
Volvo V60 Cross Country
The Volvo V60 Cross Country separates itself from the rest of the range by offering some limited off-road ability. It’s clearly distinguishable thanks to a ride height that’s 65mm taller than the standard V60 and plastic cladding for the wheelarches that is designed to guard against the kind of scuffs and scrapes that’s you’re likely to pick up off-roading. Opting for grippy four-wheel drive ups running costs slightly, but means the Cross Country has the ability to match its looks.
The arrival of the D4 diesel engine has breathed new life into the V60 – offering some of the best fuel economy and performance figures in the class. Couple that to the Volvo’s distinctive interior and exterior design, comfortable seats and superb motorway manners and there’s still plenty to like about the company’s mid-sized estate.
It may not beat the rivals from Audi and Mercedes outright, but it is a non-conformist choice and the next best thing after them.