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.
Economy – 10/10
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
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.
Total Score – 46/50