A few years ago an invitation to a Volvo station wagon launch being waved around in the office would have sent the younger members of staff dashing out for smoke breaks… These days, however, and especially since the introduction of the funky C30, Volvos are no longer seen as boring boxes for used furniture salesmen.
Always a master at the station wagon art, Volvo’s new V60, introduced in South Africa this week, could just be the best model it has introduced the past two decades or so…
The V60 – the “V” indicates “versatility” by the way – is what Volvo likes to call a sportswagon – its reason being that the V60 doesn’t behave, perform or look like a typical stationwagon. Sporting a sweeping roofline, strong shoulders and aggressive stance, the V60 looks far less utilitarian than other wagons in its segment.
My favourite, the T3, is powered by Volvo’s new 1,6-litre GTDi engine that delivers high performance and minimised fuel consumption. It produces 110 kW and 240 N.m of torque and acceleration from rest to 100 km/h takes 9,7 seconds. It is only available with a six-speed manual transmission and this is perhaps why I loved it so much. The other derivatives I drove were either Powershift dual-clutch or Geartronic automatics and just made me feel that much more, well, uninvolved – as they would. But the sporty T3 was perfect for me, displaying a nice balance of power and crisp responses from the steering and suspension. It also handled the rural roads selected for the car’s local launch pretty well.
Being a station wagon it offers usefully more utility space than the saloon, but it isn’t as volume-oriented as Volvos used to be. Still, I think the space on offer is more than sufficient for most families. Quality is also very good and its refreshing to drive a car with such a different approach to interior ergonomics to the Germans that dominate this segment. It must be said, however, that those ergonomics take some getting used to as there are a huge number of buttons on the facia, and they’re all quite small…
The 1,6-litre GTDi engine also powers the T4, which was the only car that was not available to drive. Volvo offers seven derivatives of the V60, starting with the T3, which is priced at R317 700, then the T4, T5, 2,0T, D3, D5 and the top of the range T6, which is priced at R474 700. The V60 will be available with sporty R-design trim by the end of February.
The V60, like the S60 it is based on, offers a raft of high-tech safety features, including roll-over protection, whiplash protection, pedestrian detection with full auto brake, driver alert control, lane departure warning and blind spot information systems. And the list goes on.
The V60 arrives at an important time in Volvo’s life and it is a model that the marque has high hopes for. Certainly, with the S40/V50 reaching the end of their lifecycles, the S60/V60 will carry the volume torch for a while. It deserves to succeed.