Volvo V60 D4 Luxury 2013 Review

Volvo V60 D4 Luxury 2013 Review

Buy a Volvo with City Safety and in some countries you get a discount off your car insurance because insurance companies know that it has reduced crashes in XC60s by 22%. Insurers in New Zealand are lagging behind (probably trying to maintain their profits), but there might come a time soon when systems such as Volvo’s, or Subaru’s EyeSight attract a nice discount as they virtually eliminate at-fault minor fender benders.

volvo-v60-d4-luxury-2013-rear-quarter-lowThis technology will ultimate also improve our traffic flow because there’ll be less opportunity to rubberneck. At the moment, though, not every manufacturer has a system like City Safety which brakes automatically for you at speeds up to 50kph if it detects you’re about to trade paint with another vehicle, or worse, squish a pedestrian.

volvo-v60-d4-luxury-2013-front-interiorSafety features aside (because it’s kind of a given when you talk about Volvos), the V60 is a station wagon that sits between the S series sedans and the XC series SUVs. You can get into one for a shade under $67,000, and the top of the line is the $87,000 R-Design. Our test car is the diesel D4 which is $69,990, plus it has the most popular options package. This bumps the price up to $77,210 with heated front seats, bi-xenon active bending lights, 18-inch alloys, electric passenger seat, alarm, navigation and some trim upgrades.

The driving experience is smooth with a pleasant wave of 400Nm of torque that is good at highway speeds on overtaking duty, but a little sluggish off the line followed by a burst of torque steer. The 120kW engine gets you too 100kph in 9.4 seconds which is a little tardy and would be improved dramatically if it was more spritely from rest. The five-cylinder, two-litre diesel has a grunty tone when pressed. Fuel economy is 6l/100km combined and that’s OK for a car this size.

volvo-v60-d4-luxury-2013-rear-seatsThe V60 excels at touring. Put it on the smooth expanses of motorway (that are still, unfortunately fairly rare in New Zealand), and it will devour the miles while delivering entertainment from a number of sources including Bluetooth streaming from your phone. It’s no slouch on the backroads, either, but it’s definitely exudes more of a plushness than a swift sportiness. Around town it performs well once you learn the correct throttle control – the large amount of available torque can mean it gathers momentum quicker than you’d expect with small throttle movements.

volvo-v60-d4-luxury-2013-instrumentsThe instrument cluster is one of the best on the market. Volvo has abandoned physical needles and separated elements to display different metrics such as speed, engine temperature and fuel levels. Instead, it is one screen that can display graphics in multiple formats. Ultimately every car will adopt this method as it means less moving parts, and the ability to explore the brand styling, as well as improve the clarity and user experience.

volvo-v60-d4-luxury-2013-rear-seatsVolvo has gone from cars that looked like modernist architecture to cars that have lines to rival the sleekest of curvaceous offerings from the main Euro competitors. From the previous model there are some subtle styling changes such as the bonnet and grille, but you’ll need to be a die-hard rivet counter to notice much else. The shape and proportions are going to win fans, but they do come at the expense of compromising rear load space a little.

volvo-v60-d4-luxury-2013-reversing-cameraThe inside is superbly designed with the exception of the floating centre console which has a storage area behind it. The buttons on the front of the console have been in this configuration for a while and are still fiddly and unintuitive (mainly for the audio system as the air conditioning controls are quite simple). The space behind the console is frustrating because you can’t easily access it while driving; even while stationary you can’t see what’s around the back of it.

Seat comfort is excellent in the front and both front seats have three levels of heating and electric adjustment. Headroom in the back is OK despite the tapering roofline; legroom is adequate but not exactly spacious if you have a tall driver. The rear seats have an integrated booster which, now that it’s compulsory for children up to seven years old, will be welcome.

volvo-v60-d4-luxury-2013-bootThe boot size is not class-leading; I couldn’t actually find a figure in the information Volvo gave me. It does have an interesting lift-up flap with bag hooks – convenient for light shopping. You do get 40/20/40 split folding seats, and the front passenger seat will also fold flat so you can get a very long load in. The rubber mat shown in the image is an optional extra. There are also sockets to accommodate a cargo net if you are operating it with all the seats flat and a heavy load in the rear.

Given this Volvo has the extras that include the sat nav package, that gets displayed on the 8-inch screen in the dashboard, which also displays the reversing camera image. Some kind of iDrive-style jog wheel would be much better to control this whole system with.

The V60 is a worthwhile contender against the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4. It perhaps has the edge over all of them in terms of cabin quality for the money, and it certainly comes with an excellent safety rating, but it does lack the driving dynamics of the BMW. Volvo caps it off with a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty and three years of roadside assist.

Price: Base D4 $69,990; as tested $77,210

Pros

  • Excellent exterior styling and cabin quality
  • Brilliant ride quality

Cons

  • Not the most practical station wagon
  • Torque steer

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