2019 Volvo V60 T5 R-Design Review: Swede V Wonder

Derryn Wong

Volvo’s V60 wagon is good enough that Singaporean drivers – especially superstitious ones – have no reason not to buy one
The average Singaporean car buyer isn’t likely to choose a station wagon.

It could be down to a number of factors: It’s simply not a default choice because of prevailing tastes, a car should look like a sedan or whatever, but one of the silliest reasons that I’ve personally heard is this: Wagons resemble hearses. 

If that sort of logic reigns, nobody should drive a four-door coupe, or cars that are white, or do anything Stevie Wonder mentions in his song, but this superstition says more about the anti-wagon mindset than anything else. Nevermind that while traffic is the leading cause of physical injury-related death, you’re far more likely to die of a stroke or heart disease.

More’s the pity, because cars like the new Volvo V60 proves that Singapore should get with the programme and flip the whole wagon-sedan situation around. Singaporean’s love the popular choice, so it might come as a surprise that Volvo sells more than twice as many V60s globally than it does S60s. 

The Volvo S60 jumped in for a preview in January this year at the Motorshow
The new, third-gen S60/V60 launch here next week and here’s some initial info: The S60 comes in T4 (187hp) Momentum (S$170k with COE) or R-Design (S$180k with COE) variants, and a T5 (250hp, AWD) R-Design (S$190k with COE) variant. The V60 comes in T4 Momentum (S$175k with COE) or T5 R-Design (S$195k with COE).

The V60 is the wagon variant of the S60 sedan, that’s the small-mid executive sedan Volvo fields against the likes of the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The second-gen model was pretty good at the start of its life-cycle, but its age showed since it hung around, lich-like, for a long time (2010-now) and was the last Ford-era Volvo to survive all this time. 

READ MORE: Teutonic Terrors – We’ve reviewed new and revised versions of the S60/V60 competitors the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class very recently.

Let’s get this out of the way: The V60 is good, as in, easily on-par with the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series.* That almost comes as no surprise, since the Swedish brand has flourished under the ownership of Chinese car company Geely, making excellent cars all this while, and recently reported record sales and revenue in the first half of 2019.
*Clarifying remark: We haven’t tested the wagon versions of those three cars, since they’ve all been recently re-launched as extensive facelifts or in the 3er’s case, a new generation, but we have tested the four-doors. And since we haven’t driven the S60 yet, this is our best-guess comparison, for now.

Geographically sensitive buyers (although it makes no difference, like body style or colour) might wonder where the V60 comes from – it’s not China, but Europe (Belgium/Sweden).
The new third-gen model runs on Volvo’s SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) modular platform, the same seen in the excellent XC90 SUV and larger S90/V90 sedan and wagon, and it really takes after its bigger siblings by stretching out. 

The V60 is the biggest car in its class, at 4761mm long, 1850mm wide, and 1433mm tall, the V60 is longer, lower and wider than its German competitors and has a longer wheelbase (at 2,840mm). The Audi A4 Avant, which is the next largest car, is
4725mm long x 1842 x 1411, with a 2,825mm wheelbase.

Tested here is the V60 T5 R-Design, so it’s the most expensive model of the entire S60/V60 range. As a sportier variant, it has a body kit, black gloss bits, 18-inch wheels and dual tailpipes. The trimmings do a good job of emphasising the car’s sport-wagon looks, and thankfully Volvo has resisted the urge to give the V60 a fastback-slope, staying true to the boxier V-cars of old.

The larger footprint also means the car can fit more than its rivals. The boot space, with the seats up, is a generous 529-litres (again bigger than the Germans) and the space has hook-points, a flip-up divider shelf, and retractable tonneau.

Put the seats down and you have 1,441-litres of room. The loading aperture is fairly tall, a definite improvement from a sedan’s boot, but an SUV would only come in handy unless you carry really tall stuff.

Like the exterior, the inside feels like Volvo simply shrank down the S90/V90 a little – though not by much. The long wheelbase makes for plenty of legroom and the V60 feels like one of the more spacious cars in its class.

Up front, the predominantly dark leather interior sees restrained highlights of polished chrome, while the driver’s view. Compared to the lots-going-on glitz of the C-Class it looks very restrained, almost bare, but that’s purposeful, Swedish minimalism for you. 

It’s all intuitive as there’s little to fiddle with, but that’s a result of most of the controls being integrated into the 9.0-inch tablet-like touchscreen infotainment system. 

All of the major features are here, from 3D-map navigation to audio streaming, and smartphone integration (Apple and Android), it’s a big improvement from the old model’s relatively tiny, low-res screen.  
Like most touch-based systems, it’s not the easiest to use while driving, but if you crash the V60 then you really deserve it. 

That’s because it has a smaller chance of running off the road due to the plethora of safety systems watching your back – they do everything from watch out for pedestrians and large animals, to keeping you in lane, and more – and it’s scored super-high in the latest Euro NCAP tests. 

Volvo’s Pilot Assist system (which gives auto steering assist and distance-keeping) even takes the edge of chore-some driving in jams – it’s a feature you don’t see as standard equipment in the German cars – which leaves you to enjoy the time when the road isn’t as crowded. 

The R-Design models have a sportier setup (stiffer and lowered suspension, tuned dampers, 18-inch wheels) and the T5 model with its 250hp and all-wheel drive has plenty of grunt to go with. 

It’s heartening that the R-Design model isn’t a case of show without go, the drivetrain is torquey and quick to deliver its power, the car fast on its feet, and it does very well dynamically. While the ride quality tends towards stiff and sporty, it’s not overbearingly crashy, and there’s more than enough feel and involvement to entertain those who want real sport driving rather than an acronym.

The drawback here is that the car’s quite thirsty. While we did most of the test drive in Comfort mode rather than Eco, we failed to get anywhere near the quoted fuel consumption – it does have start-stop, but the V60’s lack of a dedicated mild hybrid system shows here.

That’s the only shortcoming of note we could muster, but besides the fact that it drives well, has lots of space, and a decent level of equipment is the price.

As mentioned this is the most expensive S60/V60 model, and it rings it at under S$200k – some S$30k less than its direct rivals such as the Audi A4 Avant 2.0 quattro (when it was still on the pricelist), the slower Mercedes-Benz C 180 Estate (S$210,888 with COE) and the BMW 330i M Sport (sedan, the wagon isn’t here yet and will be pricier).
Car buying can be an emotional and illogical process (who needs a 639hp person-carrier, really?) but it’s hard to argue with the sheer logic the V60 brings to the (wagon-stowed picnic) table.

Wagons give you the benefits of a sedan (superior dynamics), include the space of an SUV, but have few of the drawbacks of the latter. The V60 goes one better by being a class-leader at a considerably un-class leading price.

And if you can’t get over the fact that it (very) obliquely reminds you of a hearse, well, you have to drive one tremendously badly to end up in the back of a real hearse. 

Volvo V60 T5 R-Design 

Engine 1,998cc, inline 4, turbocharged 
Power 250hp at 5200-6400rpm
Torque 350Nm at 1370-4500rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic 
0-100km/h 235km/h 
Top Speed 6.5 seconds
Fuel Efficiency 7.3L/100km
VES Band / CO2 C1 / 167g/km
Agent Wearnes Automotive
Price S$195,000 with COE
Availability Now

*Clarifying remark: We haven’t tested the wagon versions of those three cars, since they’ve all been recently re-launched as extensive facelifts or in the 3er’s case, a new generation, but we have tested the four-doors. And since we haven’t driven the S60 yet, this is our best-guess comparison, for now. 


5 seat 5-door petrol T5 R-Design V60 Volvo wagon

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's former chief editor was previously the editor for Top Gear Singapore and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment.

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