Volvo V60 2.0 T5 R-Design Plus Geartronic
A much-needed refresh sees the Volvo V60 join the XC60 and 90-series cars in what has become a formidable line-up. This particular car, the T5 R-Design, offers hot-hatch rivaling performance without compromise to practicality. Equipment levels are impressive as standard, especially on the safety front. The V60 is certainly good enough to take the fight to the BMW 3-series Touring and Audi A4 Avant in this class.
The new generation of Volvos, with their contemporary and premium design, started back in 2015 with the XC90. It’s taken some four years for it to make its way down the range to the V60, but it’s certainly been worth the wait.
The model we have here is the sporty one; the T5 R-Design. And let’s be honest; Volvo has form when it comes to sporty estate cars. It wasn’t all that long ago we tested the previous Volvo V60 Polestar. Go back further and you have the 850 estate that competed in the British Touring Car Championship.
The new Volvo V60 is some way from the big, boxy 850, with sleek lines and subtle curves in the bodywork. And yet it is still recognisable to those who remember those BTCC glory days, when a Volvo T5 estate was a hero.
At the front, Thor hammer LED daytime running lights give an unmistakably-Volvo appearance, while the R-Design specification brings gloss black trim and sportier bumper.
To the side, gloss black mirrors, window surrounds and roof rails are a change from the satin silver we have come to know of R-Design models in recent years. 18-inch alloys are standard, but our test car had optional 19-inch two-tone ones. An even larger 20-inch option is also available.
At the rear, the Volvo V60 R-Design has a prominent roof spoiler and a decidedly athletic stance. The rear bumper features gloss black trim, and integrated chrome exhaust tailpipes.
But perhaps most clever of all is the badging. Next to the T5 badge is an R-Design one, but it’s a large ‘R’ with small ‘Design’ underneath. So what people see is “T5 R” and that resonates with the history of fast, practical Volvo estates of old.
Perhaps the most noticeable area of improvement with the newer Volvos is in the design and finish of the interiors. I’ve said, somewhat boldly, that interiors on the 90-series cars are some of the best of any car currently on sale.
It’s great to see this filter down into the 60-series cars. Understandably, the use of materials is not quite as exotic as on the more luxurious 90-series models, but the overall styling and perception of quality and sturdiness is every bit as good.
At the centre of the Volvo V60 R-Design cabin are the beautifully-sculpted contour sports seats. With plenty of side and leg bolstering, they are finished in half leather, half textile on the V60. They feature R-Design lettering on the headrest and an adjustable knee cushion.
When it comes to the driving seat, Volvo has ignored the growing trend of fitting a flat-bottomed steering wheel on a sporty model. This isn’t a notable omission; the chunky wheel is finished in a wonderful soft leather.
Beyond this is a fully-digital instrument cluster. There are limited customisation options to display a map or different dial themes, but certainly nowhere near the level of personalisation available on the Virtual Cockpit systems in VW/Audi group vehicles.
The focal point on the dashboard is the 9-inch, portrait-oriented touchscreen display. We’ll come on to over-reliance on touch and a distinct lack of buttons in due course, but there are no complaints from a styling point of view.
When it comes to materials the Volvo V60 is well-appointed. There may be a lot of blacks and greys, but there are a variety of textures. Most importantly there are no dodgy hard plastics to be found anywhere.
It’s fair to say that seeing T5 and R badges on the rear of a Volvo V60 is enough to instil fear in other motorists. Those badges are synonymous with performance. Well, that, and police cars. So the fear could well be from prior attempts to escape Johnny Law.
The days of five-cylinder engines are, sadly, in the past. Nonetheless, this Volvo V60 packs a punch. Its 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine is turbocharged to give a power output of 250PS. An impressive 350Nm of torque is available from just 1,800rpm, up to 4,800rpm.
The Volvo V60 T5 is only available as an 8-speed automatic, and comes in front-wheel drive only. But the performance figures – 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 145mph – make for pleasant reading.
That means that the Volvo V60 is worthy of the T5 badge. It is a practical family estate car, going about its business in an unassuming way. Then when you put your foot down, it has hot-hatch rivalling performance. Not only did it catch us by surprise at first, but it will undoubtedly surprise other motorists too.
Now if we were to nit-pick faults – and you have to be picky to find them – then you do miss the character of the old five-pots. An active exhaust to bring a sporty note would have been welcomed.
One other thing is that Volvo do a more powerful version of this 4-cylinder engine. Called the T6, it has a rather healthy 320PS, and would have made an absolute rocket of a Volvo V60. Sadly that’s not available in the UK.
So if you want more power your only option is the T8 twin-engine plug-in hybrid with 303 + 87 PS.
Despite being a sizeable estate car, the Volvo V60 handles well. In R-Design guise the V60 gets a lowered, stiffened chassis to provide a sportier ride. It’s effective too, keeping body roll to a minimum through the corners.
In addition, the V60 is refined enough to cope with a motorway cruise. Yes, you can feel potholes and lumps in the road, especially with low-profile 19-inch alloys. One can only imagine what the even lower-profile 20-inch alloys would be like. But the damping is just supple enough to compensate, and with such comfortable seats the experience from the driving seat is never unpleasant.
Steering feel is lacking, but then that’s true of the vast majority of cars these days. The weight varies depending which drive mode you’re in – from the light and effortless ‘Comfort’ mode to the heavier ‘Dynamic’ mode.
We feel the Volvo V60 R-Design has a very well-balanced suspension setup, meeting in the middle of comfort and composure. But for those who wish to accentuate those two extremes you can opt for the Active Four-C Chassis, which is a four-corner adaptive damping setup. Comfort becomes even softer and suppler, while dynamic becomes even firmer. It’s even reasonably-priced, at £750.
There’s no all-wheel drive option with the T5. For the most part, this never causes issue. But ultimately putting 250PS through the front wheels can lead to understeer at times. And if you get overly exuberant with the throttle in the wet, then don’t be surprised to see the traction control light blinking at you.
When Volvo made the decision to move away from their larger 5 and 6-cylinder engines, they had a simple brief for their new range of smaller engines. They had to maintain the level of power and performance offered, but whilst improving economy and efficiency.
Now diesel has received a lot of bad press lately, but it’s hard to escape the fact that for high-mileage users it still makes far more fiscal sense than the petrol equivalent. But that’s not to say the T5 is without merit.
Combined fuel consumption is 34.0mpg on the WLTP cycle. This may not be able to match the likes of the D4 diesel – at 47.9mpg – but considering the impressive power and performance then it is still respectable. And on a longer run you can achieve a figure closer to 40mpg.
On balance, that’s a return nobody could complain about at all. It certainly fits the bill of improving efficiency whilst maintaining performance.
CO2 emissions of 157g/km (NEDC-equivalent) mean that first year VED is £530, with subsequent years at £145. The standard price of a V60 T5 R-Design is under £40,000 – just. So be aware that while the VED surcharge will not apply as standard, tick a few options boxes and you’ll be paying an additional £320 in years 2 to 6.
If there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that a Volvo estate will be practical. And the V60 is no exception to the rule.
It’s all too easy to just opt for an SUV these days. And in Britain, that seems to be what everyone is doing; it seems every second car you see on the road is an SUV of some description. But let’s not be so quick to discount the estate car.
It is, to all intents and purposes, the same principle as an SUV, but without the added ride height. And not being so tall is better for handling, making for a better driving experience.
While my better half absolutely loves her Volvo XC60 – and rightly so – I think the V60 puts forward a good case for itself. There’s no lack of space, with plenty of legroom in the rear.
Boot space is vast: 529 litres with the rear seats up, and a colossal 1,441 litres with them folded down and loading up to the roof. That should be more than enough for a trip to the tip when you clear out the loft, and it will swallow a few suitcases on a trip to the airport.
Although the driving position is not as high and mighty as in an SUV, visibility is still good. And if you opt for the Xenium Pack – which includes a 360-degree camera – parking is a breeze.
One word that has a long association with Volvo is safety, with the Swedish brand being at the forefront of innovation and technology when it comes to keeping occupants – and pedestrians – safe. When it comes to choosing a family car, safety plays a huge part. It’s comforting to know that your loved ones are well protected.
As a premium brand, Volvo knows it has to ensure its cars have a premium specification. You certainly get more as standard than German rivals. That’s not to say there isn’t an option list – more on that a bit later – but you certainly wouldn’t have many complaints even taking the Volvo V60 as it comes.
All models get an infotainment system with a 9-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen at the centre. It’s also a voice-activated system with navigation and Sensus Connect, which allows access to apps and internet browsing. There’s even an app for your smartphone which allows you to control certain functions remotely.
On the safety front, you get City Safety with pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, and front collision warning with automatic emergency braking and steering assistance. Oncoming Lane Mitigation automatically guides you back to your lane, and out of the path of oncoming traffic if you unwittingly drift out of your lane. Finally, run off road protection automatically tightens seatbelts if the car leaves the road.
Other notable standard equipment is two-zone climate control, heated front seats, power-operated tailgate, rear parking sensors and fully-digital instrument cluster.
R-Design trim adds the sporty exterior bodykit, dark tinted windows and sports chassis. Inside, sporty flourishes include contour sports seats, sports steering wheel, sports pedals, R-Design tread plates, black headlining and metal mesh inlays.
Additional technology includes keyless entry and go, head-up display, active bending headlights ad an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Value For Money
In standard guise, a Volvo V60 T5 R-Design Plus will cost you £39,385. Crucially, that’s under £40,000 which means private owners will avoid the dreaded VED surcharge.
At this premium end of the executive saloon (and estate) segment, it’s becoming nigh-on impossible to stay below £40,000. So it’s impressive that the V60 achieves that, especially when you consider that some of the standard features – high-spec infotainment system, keyless entry and the like – are optional extras on rival models.
But ultimately if you tick any of the option pack boxes, you’re going to be over the £40,000 threshold. If you do decide to take the plunge, there are some rather tempting packs to go for.
Xenium Pack is £1,800. For that you get a tilt and slide panoramic sunroof with electric blind, 360-degree parking camera with top-down view, and Park Assist Pilot; which brings automatic parallel and bay parking functionality. Considering many manufacturers charge upwards of £1,200 for a sunroof alone, this seems good value.
If you really wat to show off then you’ll want the Intellisafe Pro Pack, costing £1,625. It adds auto-dimming functionality to the exterior door mirrors, blind spot information with cross-traffic alert with auto-braking and rear collision mitigation. Best of all, you get Intellisafe Assist, comprising adaptive cruise control and Pilot Assist: Volvo’s semi-autonomous driving functionality. It will apply steering input to keep you in your lane, and adjust speed to maintain a safe distance to the car in front.
Our test car had these options, and some others too; costing £45,835. But it was a brilliantly-equipped car that I can guarantee is several thousand pounds cheaper than rivals with the same spec. And it’s no less of a car either.
So there you have it; the Volvo V60 gets maximum five stars, and deservedly so!
Facts and Figures
|Engine||2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Max power||250PS at 5,500rpm|
|Max torque||350Nm at 1,800-4,800rpm|
|Drivetrain||8-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive|
|Fuel tank size||60 litres|
|Fuel consumption||34.0 mpg combined, WLTP|
|CO2 emissions||157 g/km NEDC equivalent|
|Towing capacity||1,800kg braked / 750kg unbraked|
|Luggage capacity||529 litres|
|NCAP rating||5 stars|
|Price as tested||£45,835|