5 0 5
Plus & Minus
Plush compliance over V60 wagon, friendly road manners, more comfortable and upmarket than before
Tall ride sacrifices some dynamic ability; diesel in question for Oz, probably won’t get the sales it deserves
The Wheels Verdict: In a world where, for whatever reason, many large family-oriented cars ride on large rims with stiff suspension and prioritise style over substance, the V60 Cross Country seems to hit the nail on the head. It has a comfy ride, broadened ability, a big boot and tasty tech.
WHAT IS THE VOLVO V60 CROSS COUNTRY?
Take the V60 wagon, jack up the suspension and add some beefy cladding and you’ve got most of the ingredients required to call it a Cross Country. Taller and more off-road friendly, the Cross Country satisfies the romantic thoughts of being able to drive along reasonably rough tracks while keeping the ride tidy and value tight.
Read next: 2018 Volvo V60 review
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
This new generation V60 Cross Country is almost a certainty to arrive in Australia early next year, and as a potential diesel replacement for the next-gen Subaru Outback (which won’t have a diesel drivetrain), this could be an important model for many.
VOLVO V60 CROSS COUNTRY REVIEW
While it can’t claim that it was the world’s first pumped-up wagon, Volvo did beat European counterpart Audi to the punch when in 1996 (three years before the Allroad hit roads) the Swedes gave us the V70 Cross Country. Taller and more rugged than its estate counterpart, the Cross Country and, indeed, cars like the Allroad, could be considered the segue to crossover SUVs. The advertising was shot with rocks not roads, and the idea was that such a car was part of a family that enjoyed getting lost but coming back home on time, clean and comfortable.
Today, the SUV has undoubtedly taken that formula and run with it - successfully. But the new V60 CC’s SUV sibling, the XC60, is a much bulkier proposition. Not only does that extra metal cost you more money, it’s not always a case of bigger is better.
Benefitting from Volvo’s newfound knack for automotive design, the V60, like the S60, is very handsome. Adapting Thor’s hammer shape headlights that Volvo says are quintessential to its Scandinavian design language, the V60 is as thoughtfully modelled as German counterparts but with a softer elegance.
It’s a theme carried into the cabin which brings a unique identity while still clearly adhering to Volvo’s successful interior design language. Much of the cabin will be familiar to XC60 owners, sans a couple changes to the layout around the gearshift selector in the centre console. The portrait infotainment screen is an example of Volvo’s design nous, which manages to incorporate Apple CarPlay, climate control and complex driving aid settings all into the touchscreen display. Even the HVAC controls aren’t too involved - a common faux pas with many touchscreens - and CarPlay sits neatly on the lower half of the screen while car settings can be accessed in the top divide.
Best of all, it feels quick - like swiping around on your own smartphone quick.
As for comfort, the V60 is roomy and plush, but not ostentatiously luxurious. It is perfectly apt for a long-haul drive, matching the aspirational image that the Cross Country nameplate should conjure. Kids will love legroom in the back row and adults will find it better than in many SUVs. Being all-wheel-drive, the driveline tunnel kills practicality on the middle seat but it’s a wide and tall interior dimensionally, so it feels pretty spacious. Add to that features such as rear seat heaters, electric folding seats (expanding the 529-litre boot to a flexible 1441L) and four-zone climate control and you have some of the ingredients of a terrific family wagon.
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This feeling is amplified by the ride and handling tune. It never falls into the trap of trying to feel sporty and rides on softly sprung suspension which adds 60mm ground clearance over the normal V60 estate (201mm total), delivering a graceful, supple ride. We were restricted to the confines of a short Swedish testing ground for our first impression, but that first impression is that the V60 Cross Country should translate to a good ride on bumpy Aussie roads.
Our test vehicle was fitted with the smaller entry-grade 18-inch alloys, clad with Michelin Primacy4 215/55 rubber - Australian spec cars might differ, and probably will knowing how much buyers appreciate big alloy bling. Regardless, it’s obvious that Volvo have not applied the same train of thought as Audi with its Allroad wagon, that uses a more expensive air suspension system which can be low and sporty or high and ‘adventurous’, though the ride can be surprisingly terse when on stilts anyway. The Volvo, by comparison, lacks confidence when asked to quickly change direction, but does well to keep the ride smooth and compliant.
That brings us to ask how Volvo plans to position its Cross Country when it (likely) does arrive in Australia. Managing director of the local arm, Nick Connor, says it has ambitions to “suck up the Subaru Outback buyers,” suggesting a keen price point to compete near the Japanese rival. Given low volume, there probably won’t be more than one or two variants brought in. The diesel D4 engine would be a prudent choice for Volvo, as Subaru's new Outback won’t arrive with an oiler - perhaps an important point of difference. But Volvo’s developing the same feeling towards diesel, and we might only get the T5 petrol.
That’s a pity, as the D4 we drove was a thoughtful match to the car’s laid-back but purposeful personality. Smooth but grunty off the mark and lazy but quiet when cruising, it’s a refined mill that would appeal to many high-mileage drivers, yet is adept around town. The numbers the 2.0-litre turbo produces marry up with its real world performance: 140kW at 4250rpm and 400Nm at 1750-2500rpm. Fuel economy is a reasonable claimed 6.6L/100km on the combined cycle.
Like the updated S60 and V60, the steering benefits from the new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform underneath. If we had to quibble, the brake pedal felt soft, but the new V60 feels like a significant improvement over the previous generation.
The Cross Country also brings an off-road mode to the V60, which is really just a more aggressive traction control setting across all four wheels. Hill descent control is another point of difference, but like so many SUVs, expect the Cross Country to be more of a soft-roader than off-roader, yet a bit better at both. That’ll be more than enough ability for the lion’s share of its target market.
VOLVO V60 CROSS COUNTRY VS RIVALS
Audi Allroad, Subaru Outback, Volkswagen Passat Alltrack
VOLVO V60 CROSS COUNTRY PRICE AND SPECS AUSTRALIA
Model: Volvo V60 Cross Country D4
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Max power: 140kW at 4250rpm
Max torque: 400Nm at 1750-2500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: $62,000 (estimated)
On sale: 2020