Thursday, 12 June 2014

REVIEW - Volvo V60 D4 R-Design

I reviewed a Volvo V60 just last week; the D6 Hybrid model. It’s extremely economical, but the hefty price tag will look bad on the P11d. So what you really need is a car that’s still efficient to keep the running costs down, but that doesn’t cost as much to start with. And I think I may have found it… It’s a Volvo V60- funnily enough- but with Volvo’s new D4 engine in it. Here you have a motor which promises power and economy, and I’ve heard good things about it. So I just had to try it. Being back-to-back with the Hybrid model also made for a good comparison. Oh, and this one came sporting the R-Design tracksuit and trainers…

Looks – 9/10

Where the Hybrid lacked a bit of an edge on the outside, the R-Design kit fills the gap nicely. Having the full kit, sporty grille, twin exhausts, rear diffuser and silver mirrors really does compliment the shape of the V60. My test car was finished in Passion Red, which is a fantastic colour, and definitely gives a sporty image to the Volvo. The daytime running lights add a presence at the front of the car, while the shark-fin aerial giving the rear a touch of class too. I think the only thing missing was privacy glass, and it still amazes me that even here it’s an optional extra. Definitely worth ticking when you put your order in though, because it vastly improves the look of the R-Design and really rounds off an exterior package that’s sleek and sporty.

On the inside I like the R-Design touches. Whilst most of them are small things- the badge on the bottom of the steering wheel for example- they all add up to create a sporty atmosphere which is pleasant to be in. The biggest touch, and one I was calling for in R-Design Volvo’s a couple of years ago, is the redesign of the seats. They’re still made of the same soft leather, and unbelievably comfortable, but the sporty model now gets large bolsters to offer the lateral support a sporty seat should offer. The traditional blue dials remain as well, albeit on the digital dashboard. Other choices are available, and in a red car I liked the “power” option which makes the dials red too. The optional gear shift paddles are a nice touch behind the steering wheel, and I’m a big fan of the black centre console with silver stripe. All the materials look as good as they feel, and you can sense the quality on the inside, even down to the satisfying noise of the door shutting.

Handling/Performance – 9/10

Now the biggest talking point with this V60 is the all-new, 2.0-litre 4-cylinder diesel engine that lies under the bonnet. It’s to offer an alternative to the 2.4-litre D5 and aims to provide comparable levels of power and refinement with lower running costs. And there’s plenty of power available; 181PS and 400Nm to be precise. There’s also a new gearbox to go with it; an 8-speed automatic. 0-62mph times and top speed are the same for both manual and auto; 7.6 seconds and 140mph respectively. The power delivery is smooth, especially through the 8-speed box, and mid-range power is more than plentiful. I never felt like I had less power than the D5 (which has 215PS) although I will always miss that 5-cylinder warble, which was a fantastic soundtrack. You barely even notice the changes in auto mode, although I had good fun sticking it into paddle shift, because the response was instant and surge addictive.

I think all things considered the V60 handles well. It’s a sizeable car, but does well to disguise this. The ride is comfortable but not too soft; I think the lower-profile 18-inch wheels help this. There’s very little lean on turn-in, and the whole car sits nicely poised. You can tell there’s a big heavy diesel up front when you start to push harder, and there is a tendency to understeer. But you are able to push harder thanks to the body-hugging seats. The steering is direct, although there isn’t a great deal of feel to it. Then you’ll find yourself on the motorway where the V60 really comes into its own. The ride is silky smooth, and thanks to the 8-speed box the engine is barely ticking over at 70mph (circa 1,700 rpm) so it’s quiet too. Even when you’re blasting down a bumpy A-road at 60mph there’s very little drama; you’d think you were trundling along at about 35mph if you didn’t look at the speedo.

Economy – 10/10

The biggest advantage of the smaller, 2.0-litre engine comes with economy. I don’t know how they’ve done it, but Volvo have created a 181PS diesel engine that emits just 99g/km CO2. The R-Design is slightly higher thanks to the lower profile tyres, but even with this, and the 8 speed automatic gearbox, the emissions on this V60 are 112g/km which is remarkable. That puts the V60 in VED band C, meaning free road tax in the first year, and £30 every year thereafter. And that’s low running costs for this kind of car, and will also appeal to company car drivers as it will keep the benefit down on the P11d. Combined fuel consumption for the automatic is 65.7mpg. It certainly makes you think twice about that hybrid from last week now doesn’t it?

Practicality – 10/10

As with the V60 hybrid, the R-design is immensely practical. There’s a bigger boot thanks to the lack of batteries, with a built in dog guard which created a perfect environment for our two miniature schnauzers. They felt like royalty with the amount of space they had. As did we in the cabin, with plenty of tech to keep us occupied. The options list on a Volvo can be a dangerous thing, as it can soon rack up the price, but there are some noteworthy boxes that may be worth ticking. A heated steering wheel is £200, but worth every penny on a chilly winter morning. Park assist pilot is £525 if you like that kind of thing. The gear-shift paddles at £150 are a must-have for me, and the useful reversing camera is £375. Plenty to suit your requirements, without a need to go mental and spend thousands. The driver support pack- at £1,900- is expensive, but does make life fantastic; with lane keeping assist, radar cruise control, blind spot warning and collision detection with automatic braking. Now that’s peace of mind.

Fun – 8/10

I had a good week in my Volvo V60. I enjoyed the new engine and gearbox, and had a good time on some decent roads in paddle mode. Yes, it’s in no way a formula 1 car, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun pretending. The endless uses for this car- from a motorway cruiser to a family and dog transporter meant everyone was happy, and that takes some doing. I like the sporty touches, and have yet to come across a better iPod interface than that in a Volvo. Everything from the sat-nav to the telephone can be controlled via the steering wheel, and that’s great once you know how. Where I felt short-sold with the V60 was the loss of the 5-pot warble, which added a soundtrack to the fun drive. Also, the handling get a bit wayward once you start to push, and a decent AWD system would be great.

Concluding Remarks

So that’s the new V60 D4 then. I like the R-Design styling pack, and the new engine is a gem. Prices start from £34,695 but get a bit silly and you’re looking at my test car; £43,495. A lot of money I agree, but still not as much as the hybrid from last week. And that means it will still work well for company car drivers. And that’s where I see a lot of Volvo V60’s going. Business executives could even be tempted from their BMW’s and Audi’s if they actually go out and see for themselves. And that’s the biggest challenge Volvo face. Everyone who gets in them realises how good they are, but it’s hard getting them there in the first place. For more information visit your local dealership or go to the Volvo website. The V60 R-Design is like a businessman who goes to the gym; professional but capable of getting a sprint on.

Total Score – 46/50 


  1. Great review. And happy to hear that many good things about this V60 D4 e-Drive. I have just ordered one.

    1. Glad you found the review useful.

      Lucky you! What colour ha e you chosen? Once you've had it a while and got to grips with everything come back and let us know how you get on with it.


    2. Seashell metalic. Anthracite Black at the interior with sport seats. Promise I'll promptly report back as soon as I get it, although I still have to wait for a few weeks. It seems that the success of the model is delaying the delivery.

    3. Me again: I got my new D4 181HP on 28th July. Automatic 8 gears. Summum, black interior with sport seats. Seashell metallic.6,550 km during August, mainly motorway, but also urban: 5.3 L/100 Km. 1,400 km with one full tank. It's a starship. I drove from Valencia (Spain) to Brussels (Belgium) in 18h 30´ (1700 km) and arrived inBrussels fresh and relaxed. In sport mode one jumps to hyperspace. Fabulous set of driving assistance tricks. I loved the adpatative cruise control, it's addictive. But also the automatic beam control: it's magic, believe me. Still looking for soemthing wrong (well, the navigator software has lot of margin of improvement). I love that car.

  2. I was at first interested in a BMW 320 or Audi A4.Touring. Great cars, no doubt, particularly the BMW. Then I happened to try the V60 D4 181hp. I save a good deal of money and got plenty of comfort, technology, safety and fun. And Volvo conveys the right image I was looking for: quality with a touch of intelligent distinction.

  3. I definitely agree with you on the image. The Volvo isn't the obvious choice, but that doesn't mean it's not one of the best. And with the redesign for 2014 it really does look great. There are subtle hints at the quality underneath, without giving too much away.

    Well done for not just opting for a German car for the badge, it sounds like you made the right decision!