First drive: Volvo V60 D3 Inscription Plus

Road Test
Angela123

The new V60 reinvents the mid-size Volvo estate for a new generation. Richard Gooding finds that a range of efficient engines, premium features and luxurious finishes enhances its appeal

What is it?
Volvo has a long tradition of estate cars, stretching back to the Amazon Station Wagon of 1962. Subequent models were traditional box-shaped cars, but this changed with the first V60 in 2010. Introduced at a pivotal time in ‘new’ Volvo’s lifetime, the company was bought by the Chinese Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. The second-generation V60 arrived in 2018 and like the 2014 XC90 before it, married sleek looks and a premium finish.

How does it drive?
The new V60 is based on a version of Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, one of the first developments under Geely’s ownership. Also underpinning the S90, V90, new S60, XC60 and XC90, the platform allows for next-generation electrification, connectivity and safety technologies. It’s a big change for the future, and one Volvo is committed to. In 2017 it announced its new electrification strategy which dictated that every new Volvo launched from 2019 will be electrified, and Volvo’s first all-electric model is expected to arrive this year, too. The V60 range includes T8 Twin Engine Hybrid models.

Volvo’s current range of petrol and diesel engines are all Drive-E units, and the all-aluminium units employ injection and boosting technology for both power and efficiency. Diesel-engined model designations started with ‘D’ and those powered by petrol by a ‘T’. Two-litre 148bhp D3 and 187bhp D4 engines make up the diesel V60 range and even though it has the smallest of the two units, the D3 Inscription Plus performs well. On the move, the V60 is very refined and has a calm atmosphere.

That peacefulness is helped by the sumptuous cabin. As with the current wave of new Volvos, the V60’s interior features beautifully made and chosen materials, with a 9.0-inch ‘Sensus’ colour touchscreen at its heart. Its portrait orientation works well with clear graphics. A larger 12.3-inch TFT crystal driver display replaces conventional dials for a wholly-digital set-up. The minimalist design creates a largely button-free environment and aluminium or wood inlays add to the premium ambience. Premium also sits alongside practicality, as the V60 has 529 litres of luggage space with the seats in place.

How economical is it?
Volvo quotes an official range of between 48.7 and 55.4mpg under new WLTP combined cycle fuel economy testing conditions for its D3 engine when fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox, dipping slightly to between 45.6 and 51.4mpg when an eight-speed automatic transmission is chosen.

What does it cost?
The luxurious D3 Inscription Plus sits near the top of the Volvo’s ‘regular’ V60 range – only the raised up Cross Country Plus and T8 Twin Engine Plug-in Hybrid models sit above it in terms of price. The D3 Inscription Plus as tested starts at £37,565 with a six-speed manual gearbox, rising to £38,215 with the eight-speed automatic. Standard equipment includes Nappa leather upholstery, active bending headlights, ambient door lighting, power-adjustable front seats and 18-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels.

The V60 range starts with the diesel-powered £34,315 D3 Momentum Plus and the cheapest petrol-engined car is the T4 Momentum Plus at £34,685. Moving up the range, the R-Design Plus begins at £36,665 with the D3-engined car and the all-wheel drive Cross Country Plus is priced from £40,435. The T8 Twin Engine Hybrid is available in two trims, the R-Design Plus car at £50,905 and the Polestar Engineered version from £57,205.

All Volvo V60s are well-equipped. Standard equipment includes adaptive brake lights, 2-zone climate control, cruise control, heated front seats, keyless start, LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels. Being a Volvo, safety kit is also comprehensive. Highlights include an oncoming lane and road run-off mitigation system, full-length side impact inflation curtains and whiplash protection.

How much does it cost to tax?
Selected versions of the D3 and D4 diesel variants are Volvo’s lowest-emitting non-hybrid V60 models, topped only by the pair of much more expensive T8 Twin Engine plug-in cars. The V60 D3 Inscription Plus has CO2 emissions of 119g/km, attracting a £210 first-year VED rate, decreasing to £140 thereafter. The T8 Twin Engine Hybrid emits 39-46g/km of CO2 and has an all-electric range of 31.0-36.6 miles, but costs £13,000 more than the D3 Inscription Plus tested here.

Why does my fleet need one?
Reinventing Volvo’s heartland, the mid-size estate, the new V60 is a beautifully designed and built machine. The D3 is forecast to be the most popular engine choice of the fleet-biased range. Practical, well-equipped and owner of a stunning interior, the V60 showcases what ‘new’ Volvo does best. It deserves a place at the top of every fleet manager’s mid-size estate shortlist.