As my wife and are expecting for the first time, I have found myself paying more attention to what I would class as ‘dad’ cars. And given my love of Volvo’s it couldn’t hurt to take another look at a V60. I took this opportunity to try out an engine I’ve not yet experienced, because this time it was a petrol engine under the bonnet; the T4 turbocharged unit. My test car was a range-topping SE Lux Nav trim which, on paper at least, would make a rather executive family car. But is it a car I would go and buy, or would my hunt for the car to make me ‘Daddy Cool’ continue? Read on to see what I thought.
Looks – 8/10
The V60 is a great looking car. The lines are a beautiful mix of sleek and bold. At the front you notice the bonnet lines emerging from the front bumper and sweeping away to the wing mirrors. The large Volvo badge has pride of place on the grille, and to the lower bumper lies integrated LED daytime running lights. At the side the sleek window line tapers away towards the back, and 17-inch alloys sit under the arches. At the back of the car exhaust surrounds are incorporated into either side of the bumper, a subtle rear spoiler frames the window, and a smart shark-fin aerial sits neatly on the roof. I missed the extra flair of the R-Design, with more aggressive bumpers and stance, but ultimately the basic shape of the V60 is still rather smart.
The cabin of a Volvo is a safe haven, filled with premium materials and all put together to the highest standards. The seats are inviting, although they lack the bolster support of the R-Design models. The centre console is a testament to Scandinavian design, fluid and sculpted. A soft leather steering wheel frames the TFT display dials nicely. You can choose from three themes: Elegance, Eco and Power. They’re all crisp and executive, but can suit your individual mood. There are absolutely no scratchy plastics in sight, and plenty of silver trim to provide contrast. The media screen is sunk into the centre of the dashboard, and the whole centre console is slightly angled towards the driver. I have said before, and will continue to say, that Volvo make some of the nicest interiors of any car on sale today.
Handling/Performance – 7/10
My test car featured a 2.0-litre, turbocharged T4 petrol engine. It produces 190PS and 300Nm of torque, and is available with a 6-speed manual or automatic gearbox. Performance figures are the same irrespective of gearbox choice; 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 140mph. This is a wonderfully smooth engine; you barely hear it below 3,500rpm. That makes it an excellent companion on a long drive. When you let the revs climb the engine gets a little throatier, and picks up rather well. Despite the very similar performance figures on paper I would have to say the petrol engine feels livelier, but I much prefer the newer 8-speed automatic gearbox.
The V60 rides well too. On the motorway it is wonderfully comfortable; I would drive a V60 long distance without any hesitation. What always impresses me is how quiet the car is. There is some serious soundproofing separating the occupants and the outside world, which means all is relaxing and cosy inside. Once you hit the B-roads, the V60 copes reasonably well. Admittedly there is a little bit of body roll without the stiffer R-Design suspension, but it’s not too bad at all for an estate car. The steering is direct, and for £150 you can add gear shift paddles behind it. These work well with the automatic gearbox to give a sense of driver involvement when you go on the attack.
Economy – 7/10
Whilst the performance figures of the T4 are on the same level as its oil-burning counterpart, the economy figures aren’t quite there. On a combined cycle, fuel consumption is 48.7mpg. That’s not actually bad for a petrol, but as a comparison the D4 returns 64.2mpg. CO2 emissions in the petrol T4 are 136g/km, putting it in VED band E. Road tax will cost £135 in the first and subsequent years. Again the diesel wins this round of top trumps, with CO2 of 116g/km. The T4 gets start stop technology to help improve economy, but the bottom line is that if this is really important to you, the diesel would be a better choice.
Practicality – 10/10
As far as practical family cars go, it doesn’t get much better than the Volvo V60. Whilst the design might look all style, it simply hides its functionality well. You get a decent boot and plenty of legroom front and back. Being a Volvo there is a whole raft of safety equipment that will ensure your family are all safe inside, and that’s suddenly seeming more important to me. With the SE Lux Nav you get a comprehensive equipment list: satellite navigation, keyless entry and go, dual-zone climate control, auto lights, auto wipers, rear parking sensors, cruise control and city safety with emergency braking. Add the driver support pack (£1,900) adds collision warning, cyclist detection, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, queue assist and lane-keeping assist. It’s a lot of money, but gives a lot of technology.
Fun – 6/10
Make no mistake about it; the V60 is a great car. The basic body line is sleek, stylish and executive-looking. The T4 petrol engine is good, but the 6-speed automatic is not as good as the 8-speed found in the diesel. The SE Lux Nav trim is a bit more ‘proper’ than, say, an R-Design. I don’t think it will really appeal to the keen drivers amongst us. That being said, it’s still a capable car, and can hold its own on a B-road blast. In fact, the petrol engine is actually livelier than the diesel once you get pedalling. The impressive list of standard equipment means you have a lot of gadgets to get to grips with, and the Sensus Connect infotainment system is one of the best on the market. You’re never too far away from your favourite music, be it via iPod, USB device, or even Spotify. Add the premium sound by Harmon Kardon (£500) to really blast out your favourite tunes.
Ad that brings my week with the V60 T4. I personally missed the sporty touches of an R-Design, but the basic shape of the V60 is still nice. The T4 engine is quite good but is only as fast as the D4 diesel engine, which is much more economical and has the better 8-speed automatic gearbox (vs. the T4’s 6-speed option). It was interesting to see the petrol alternative to one of Volvo’s most popular engines, but ultimately I’d still go for the diesel. Prices for the T4 SE Lux start at £30,775. Throw in a few options and my test car cost £38,555. For more information head to your nearest dealer or log on to the Volvo website. The Volvo V60 is a great family car, but you’re probably better off with the diesel. Speaking of ‘Daddy Cool’, where’s that new V60 Polestar…?