2011 Volvo V60 – First Drive

2011 Volvo V60 – First Drive

The all-new Volvo V60 wagon was officially released into the NZ market with a launch event held in Auckland.

Well known for its safety innovations, Volvo is set to continue that trend with the V60 but is throwing other virtues into the mix. Shapely design, sharp on-road dynamics and powerful engines are all features of the new 2011 V60 range which comes with high expectations for the team at Volvo Cars NZ.

According to General Manager, Steve Kenchington, “The all-new V60 provides a great opportunity for us.  Volvo has always been strong with wagons in New Zealand and with the striking styling, the performance and safety package we hope to attract new buyers to our sports wagon as well as retain our existing customers.”

‘This is an extremely important new car for us,’ Kenchington added. ‘With its standout style, exceptional on-road abilities, outstanding passenger comfort and the very latest Volvo safety technology it sets new standards in New Zealand’s premium mid-size segment.”

The three model V60 range goes on sale this month to complement the similar engined S60 sedan which arrived just before Christmas. After a media presentation Car and SUV was given some seat time with each of the three models in the new line up.

The range consists of the entry-spec V60 T5 (four cylinder turbocharged petrol engined) priced at $67,990, with the mid-range V60 D5 AWD (Turbo diesel All Wheel Drive) at $75,990 and the flagship V60 T6 AWD (Turbo petrol All Wheel Drive) at $83,990.

In all variants, the V60 cuts a sleek shape with its raked windscreen and split headlights and sweeping roofline that flows into distinctive vertical tail lights. It’s an attractive look with rear styling similar to the popular Volvo C30. The higher spec models receive extra goodies like contrasting side scuff plates, rear diffuser and tinted privacy glass. In terms of styling the V60 is pure sports wagon with an up swept glasshouse and coupe-like roofline giving it a pouncing stance.

Inside, all V60 models receive a full leather fit-out with sports-inspired seats which are supportive and highly comfortable. The dashboard and switchgear feels high quality and looks good especially around the floating centre console. There are a variety of interior colour options from the more conservative black and silver to beech wood brown and tan leather. There is a good amount of space on offer and five occupants can get comfortable in the driver-focused cockpit. Despite the sporty body shape the V60 cargo area cleverly makes use of all available space for a 430-litre loading capacity which can be expanded with the 40/20/40 rear seat folded forward to create a flat loading floor.

Our test route took us to Gordonton in the Waikato and allowed for some testing of the V60 on a variety of roads and surfaces. All-wheel-drive is standard on the T6 and D5 models, but all variants felt competent and well-settled on NZ roads. The newly developed dynamic chassis has a sports focus and it really shows with the V60 staying flat when cornering and showing a high-level of grip particularly in the AWD models. Even with the dynamic chassis giving a sporty drive, the V60 remained comfortable and compliant while navigating the short gravel road section of our journey.

All three engines available in the V60 were capable of solid performance but for those who like a little more pace the T6 petrol motor is the way to go. With a displacement of 3.0-litres and improvements to lower internal friction the T6 now pumps out 224kW and a brawny 440Nm of torque. Acceleration is brisk with the 0-100kph sprint achieved in 6.2 seconds. The T6 is a good all-rounder, offering an engaging drive when desired but also excellent daily drivability. There is a small concession to be made in fuel economy at 10.2l/100km combined when compared to other models in the V60 range but for a turbocharged six-cylinder engine that figure isn’t excessive at all.

The four-cylinder 2.oT engine in the T5 has a displacement of 2.0-litres and produces 177kW with 320Nm of torque available. It’s a smooth operator and takes a credible 7.7 seconds to reach 100kph from standing. The T5 is turbocharged and despite its smaller size, seldom felt laboured even when pushed hard.

Volvo’s V60 diesel entry is the mid-priced D5 which has a five-cylinder 2.4-litre mill that uses twin-turbocharging to achieve 151kW of power and 420Nm of torque. The diesel lump gets the D5 to 100kph in 8.8 seconds and returns a frugal economy figure of just 6.9l/100km combined. It’s a well-balanced motor that’s quick to offer up its full compliment of torque at any speed. It’s also nicely refined for a diesel unit and won’t be obtrusive unless under heavy load.

The T6 and D5 have 6 speed Geartronic All Wheel Drive transmissions, while the T5 has a Powershift 6 speed front wheel drive transmission.

When it comes to safety there is plenty to like for safety enthusiasts with a host of new primary and secondary innovations. In fact the V60 wagon is being labelled as the most high-tech Volvo built so far. There is new dynamic safety technologies, including extended functionality to the Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system to include Advanced Stability Control (ASC) – a first for this segment. There is also the latest pioneering safety innovation – Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Braking.

The V60 continues to have one of the most advanced stability control systems – part of Volvo’s high-tech DSTC – reducing the likelihood of wheel spin or skidding. A Corner Traction Control system increases on-road agility by automatically braking the inner driven wheel as extra power is applied to the outer wheel. This ‘torque vectoring’ improves turn-in and reduces understeer. In addition, Volvo’s optional FOUR-C active suspension has been modified and improved for the V60.

Also part of the Volvo V60’s safety armament is City Safety, which is fitted as standard equipment and reduces, or entirely avoids, low speed impacts up to 30 km/h, Driver Alert Control (DAC) to alert drivers who have become tired or distracted, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) which helps detect vehicles in the rear blind spots on both sides of the car, Lane Departure Warning (which alerts drivers if the vehicle runs across the lane markers without the indicator being activated), Active Bi-Xenon lights that can ‘see around corners’ and numerous secondary safety features including seat-mounted side airbags, improved inflatable curtains and Volvo’s patented whiplash protection system (WHIPS).

With the new curvaceous styling language, powerful engines and continued dedication to safety Volvo is on to a good thing with its new V60. The few hundred kilometers we drove during the launch event were completed in comfort and the V60 was also an enjoying steer especially in high-spec T6 form. The V60 wagon is every bit as dynamic as its S60 sedan sibling but with the added practicality of a larger loading area. Volvo Cars New Zealand are understandably confident in the new model and used the launch event as an opportunity to stress the significance of the all-new V60 in New Zealand. General Manager Steve Kenchington said Volvo NZ is targeting around 90 annual sales in its first full year. “It should surpass the XC60 as our biggest-selling model.”

The Volvo V60 goes on sale this month, to find out more click here to visit the Volvo Cars NZ website.

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