Schizo Volvo’s split personality is an interesting mix

Volvo’s V60 with its powerful D5 engine has a split personality according to motoring writer KEITH WARD, who gets to know both sides of its character.

The Volvo V60 has with the excellent D5 engine has a split personality.

THIS is a car with a split personality, a schizo Volvo. Amble around town in the manner of what used to be Volvo’s venerable style and the V60 estate can feel a trifle flabby, with a slightly awkward gearchange and sleepy steering.
Get out onto the open road and give it a bit of whip and it changes character. The quasi-bumbler transforms into an eager young buck, sharp and sprightly, and you are reminded what an impression this D5 diesel engine made when introduced three years ago.
Clean of exhaust as well as quick to respond, it was first to comply with pace-setting Euro 5 emission standards.
Today it is still quick. Two different-sized turbos operating in tandem help thrust the V60 from rest to 60mph in a nifty seven and a half seconds, which is GT territory. Such have been the advances in emissions and economy, however, that Volvo have seen the need to up its game in these respects.
Recently announced (April 14) is a “sharpened” version of the D5 unit, restricted initially to the range-topping V70, XC 70 and S80 models. It boosts output and torque from 205 hp and 420 Nm to 215 hp and 440 Nm, while claiming to improve mpg by eight per cent.
When eventually allocated to the V60 it should make this car even livelier while upping the mpg from the modest 37 mpg in our test and lowering the 142 g/km CO2 figure to a more tax-friendly level. With the new-generation D5, for instance, the big S80 saloon is down to 129 g/km.
This is billed as the world’s first estate car to offer Volvo’s innovative new Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake technology, designed to stop you at low speed before you hit anybody – or anything. And look out for a so-called DRIVe version of the V60 with a 1.6 four-cylinder turbo diesel emitting less than 119 g/km.
In top SE LUX Premium trim, as tested here, the “black pearl” V60 turned heads with its lashings of brightwork picking out its quite sleek lines, not at all the boxy back end of Volvo estates past. Adding butchness below the rear bumper is a bright protector tray, as if for steep departure angles during serious off-roading, but purely cosmetic here.
In more practical terms, the load deck extends from 1,030 to 1,510 mm (just short of five feet) on our tape. There’s an extra storage tray hidden under the boot floor and a fold up barrier to restrain smaller shopping from sliding forward. When the rear seat-backs are folded forward (not flat), the headrests cleverly dip automatically.
Already generous furnishings in a plush leather-clad interior were supplemented on the test car by options including a driver support pack, heated front seats and a front view camera which boosted the price by more than £4,500 above the standard £33,115.
The radio did not work digitally in some locations in what is still at present a patchy reception pattern nationally, and the sat-nav proved fussy to operate, with laborious dial-up rather than slick touch-screen.

Volvo V60 D5 SE LUX Premium
Body: Five-door estate; five seats
Engine: Diesel; 2,400 cc; five-cylinder, 20-valve; 6-speed manual; fwd
Power: 205 PS @ 4,000 rpm; max torque 420 Nm @ 1,500 – 3,250 rpm
Pace: 143 mph; 0-60 in 7.5 secs
MPG: On test 36.9; official combined 52.3; tank 67.5 litres
CO2: 142 g/km; tax band F; tax disc £125
Tyres: 235/40; R18
Warranty: 36 months/60,000 miles; breakdown recovery by Mondial
Service: Every 12 months/18,000 miles
Price: £33,115; as tested with options £37,700

With lots of brightwork, the V60 is certainly capable of turning heads.