If it\'s a luxury wagon you\'re after, the Volvo V60 is the pick of the bunch
Volvo blew us away when it introduced the S60 late last year; a premium mid-sized sedan with fantastic looks, excellent quality and suprising dynamic ability. The wagon version, the Volvo V60, has also impressed - especially in T6 AWD guise - being essentially the same car with a big boot.
But what about the entry-level version, the T5 - has it got what it takes to get buyers of a premium wagon into the showroom doors? Well that's what we're about to find out.
Misleading name badge aside, the T5 is powered by a 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, producing a Golf GTI-beating 177kW and a tidy 320Nm from as low as 1800rpm. All this with a fuel consumption of just 8.7-litres/100km.
Facts and figures are all well and good, but in practise, some decently boosted 2.0-litre fours can tend to be very laggy, especially when they're making as much power as this one. But the V60 T5 doesn't suffer that problem, even when coupled to its dual-clutch transmission.
The engine is very linear in its power delivery and sounds pretty good while accelerating. It'll even dash from 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds, which, when put into perspective, is just over half a second slower than the Volvo C30 T5 auto - it's reasonably quick for a family wagon.
On the combined cycle, the V60 is said to use 8.7-litres/100km, and we weren't too far off that - 9.3L/100km - which considering the whole week was city-based is a pretty good figure.
The gearbox deserves special mention. This is a dual-clutch with all of the advantages of a regular automatic and none of the drawbacks. It's smooth shifting, decisive, doesn't delay on take-off and shifts quickly. One small blight was when cold, a couple of times it delayed engaging after having shifted into drive, which was followed by a small clunk. Apart from that anomaly, the engine and gearbox combination is bang on the money.
As is the interior. Volvo's take on the premium wagon has a brilliant basis, when it's effectively an S60. You're assured, then, of fantastic build quality with the redesigned interior taking centre stage.
The seats are extremely comfortable, the leather feels great (even if the grain is a bit larger than normal) and the plastics used are all top-notch. The new floating centre stack is angled towards the driver, and despite the fact that there are quite a few buttons crammed into a very small area, it all seems to make sense. We'd probably stay away from the woodgrain - it doesn't really sit well with the rest of the modern package.
With its crystal clear screen in the dash, the new Volvo look is a winner. We'd like to see the instruments sharpen up to suit the rest of the car, but they're still readable and clear, with their floating needles and inset function display.
It's a mid-sized car, so front row room is excellent and the back seats are acceptably comfortable, legroom being just enough. There's also integrated booster seats, handy for young children. Boot space, as you'd expect, is very good, and certainly makes the V60 worth having over the S60, with the best part being you don't sacrifice drivability by opting for a wagon.
Through its chunky leather steering wheel, the V60 T5 offers something no other Volvo has in the past - steering feel.
Even the ballistic T6 AWD variant doesn't involve you as much as this T5 does. The feedback you get is just fabulous, whether it be the slight tug of torque steer, or the limits of adhesion being transmitted to your fingertips, this is the best feeling Volvo you can buy.
Driving in the rain, it lets you know how much the tyres are hanging on, and how those front wheels are coping with the torque load. This sort of feedback should be standard across the Volvo range - it's getting closer to a Germanic feel.
It's not quite BMW-sharp in the handling, though. It's balanced, yes, but not like its T6 sister. That's fine, though, because it has a nice ride (firm, but reasonably compliant) and it's not the kind of car you throw into corners.
The thing is, if you're comparing it with its Germanic opponents, the V60 wins. You don't have to pay extra for leather, for power memory seats, Bluetooth, parking sensors, and self-levelling headlights, plus you get City Safety and a whole suite of active and passive safety features - it's a Volvo after all.
Compared with the BMW 320i Touring, the V60 is quicker, has a better drivetrain, a nicer interior, and is several thousands cheaper.
If it's a luxury wagon you're after, it's the pick of the bunch.