Motoring

Review: Volvo V60 Inscription T5

I drove the “all-new” Volvo V60 back in 2018 to IKEA in Sweden, true story, but finally I’ve had the chance to go for a weeklong spin here, in the T5 Inscription and frankly I think it’s a bargain for a European car.

Once upon a time there were so many Volvo jokes that you really did need to be either retired, partially blind or be an all-out tree-hugging annoyance to consider buying one. I never felt that way, I enjoyed the yellow box Dad would sometimes bring home on weekends. He worked for New Rowley Motors, Artarmon so the odd Jag, Rover or Volvo would be rorted, I’ve happily followed in his footsteps x 10. 

Yes, I drove one to IKEA, in Sweden.

But things have really changed, this was cemented in my mind when Craig across the road showed some interest. Trust me, if Craig is asking about my Volvo, Volvo has a winner. It really is something to applaud and better still it’s a station wagon. 

There’s nothing better than driving something that preceded the rise of the SUV. Not that there’s anything wrong with the XC60 T5 Inscription, or any Volvo right now. A quick glance at some other Euro station wagons also reveals a significant price disparity. A Mercedes-Benz C300 Estate is priced from $75,140, the Audi A4 Avant that I love comes in at $73,300 while the rare BMW 330I Touring is $73,900.

Before on roads you can score a Volvo V60 Inscription T5 from $62,990, while the range kicks off from $56,990. But with all the fruit, ours was actually $74,040. So, was it actually all the extras that actually impressed me? Before we get to that let’s take a look at this not insubstantial list.

The “Premium Pack” loads the V60 with a Panoramic Sunroof, Tinted Rear Windows, Premium Sound by Bowers & Wilkins ($5,200); Versatility Pack: Grocery Bag Holder, Power Folding Rear Headrest, Four-C Chassis, Power Outlet in Tunnel Console ($1,400); Perforated Fine Nappa Leather accent upholstery Comfort seats with ventilation ($2,950); Metallic Paint ($1,500).

The “Four-C Chassis” is a subtle form of air suspension, allowing for dynamic and comfort modes. 

All the above sure does present a very attractive car, that sound system is rather epic and the added Nappa leather adds to an already elegant cabin. Even the driftwood inlays worked for me.

But what about how the actual drive? Well this is where the V60 may come unstuck against the already mentioned rivals. The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder produces 187kW at 5500rpm and 350Nm between 1500-4800. The result is a moderately quick wagon that hits 100km/h in 6.5 seconds.

The 8-speed automatic offers decent performance, but overall the V60 lacks real personality. It’s kind of a wallflower, with performance that is delivered in a rather shy and reserved manner. 

The 9-inch touch screen is presented in portrait mode, requiring swipe and touch functions to find “things”. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported as is DAB radio. There are a number of built in apps, as there are in many cars. But they take a back seat whenever a smartphone is on board. 

The transmission tunnel is like a wall between the front occupants, you certainly won’t be leaning over for a traffic light smooch. That still happens at 60, right?

Fuel economy is rated at 7.3L/100km, I averaged 10.3L/100km. But that’s me.

Safety has always been a Volvo hallmark and rest assured nothing is amiss in that department. Sensors will apply the brake should you miss that stray pedestrian, vehicle,  large animals (such as a Moose) or Cyclist.

The V60 is also equipped with intersection collision and oncoming mitigation software that will intervene if required, using both the brakes and steering input.

Adaptive cruise control and mild pilot assist is offered, along with lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring. Basically, every form of driver assist technology is crammed in, which is now normal for any European car.

Keep in mind this is also an AWD wagon, so in wet or snowy conditions it remains surefooted. But in general, it lacks the fun factor that crisp BMW steering offers, the all-out bling of a Merc or the surgical build quality of an Audi. I enjoyed my week with the V60, just like I did back in 2018 when I took our cameraman “Stig” for a drive in Sweden. He is still in shock; I love driving overseas.

It still sits over to the side away from the big three, except in 2020 what it does represent is a genuine alternative, that should silence the usual Volvo haters.

Like Craig.

It’s an 8.1 out of 10 from me.

Review: Volvo V60 Inscription T5
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