Volvo extends the Cross Country theme to its pert V60 estate. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
We already have a whole lot of time for Volvo's V60 estate, but giving it the Cross Country treatment can only broaden its appeal. Buyers choose from three diesel engines, and front or all-wheel drive. It's not cheap, though.
Be honest with yourself. Do you really need an SUV? Chances are you don't. You might just be buying one because you like sitting up high, or you think you're going to come off better in a crash or maybe just because you think you ought to have one. Now, you're clearly within your rights to choose exactly whatever you've earned the money to afford, but buying an SUV comes with a whole bunch of downsides that their manufacturers don't want you to know about.
The laws of physics being what they are, nothing comes for free. Added size is added weight, extra fuel thirst, compromised handling and less effective braking. If only there was a smarter way to get that rugged, go-anywhere look without all of the lard. You can see where I'm going with this can't you? Yep, Volvo delivers just that in the shape of the V60 Cross Country, a smarter solution than the average small SUV.
Volvo offers a choice of three diesel engines under the bonnet of the V60 Cross Country. The 150PS D3 is a fine unit. Don't buy it though. There's a better option available. For another £1,300 you can buy the 190PS D4 version, which really brings the V60 to life. Both of these two-litre engines are part of Volvo's Drive-E family and power the front-wheel drive variants, so these two don't really deliver too much on the Cross Country promise.
If you want a car that can really smash its way through mud, snow and almost anything else, you need the all-wheel drive version. This gets a 2.4-litre 190PS five-cylinder powertrain. With ground clearance increased by 65mm compared to the V60, the Cross Country's offers just as much if not more off-road ability than many compact SUV rivals, coupled with a sportier feel on-road courtesy of torque vectoring technology and corner traction control.
Design and Build
The base V60 was always a handsome car, but the Cross Country amps up the attitude a good few degrees. With that increased ground clearance come skid plates front and rear, side scuff plates and bumper extenders, while integrated tailpipes reflect its sporty dark side. Indoors, there are sports seats in black leather with distinctive brown stitching - or there's a smart two-tone leather option.
The boot is 430-litres, which is almost 100-litres up on the S60 saloon but less than you'll cram into compact executive estates like the BMW 3 Series Touring and Audi A4 Avant. Volvo points out that there's more to practicality than sheer load volume and it's got a point. The V60 load area has been designed with a wide aperture of 1,095mm and a uniform shape, so all of the available capacity can be used. The rear bench splits 40/20/40 and drops down flat to the floor, while the front passenger seat can do likewise to further increase luggage space.
Market and Model
It's a bit of a shame that Volvo hasn't been able to slot the entry-level V60 Cross Country under the £30k barrier, which is a upper bracket for some company car choosers. You'll need a few hundred more than that for the D3 SE, with the SE Nav adding another £800 to that asking price. You'll need just over £32,000 for the D4 SE Nav, which looks set to be the most popular model in the UK. If you want the full-on five-cylinder Cross Country with all-wheel drive, you're looking at over £38,000, which becomes quite a serious consideration.
Still, you do get some lovely tech like the City Safety function that can automatically warn the driver and, ultimately, apply the brakes if it detects an imminent collision. There's also an optional Pedestrian Detection function that keeps an eye out for people stepping in front of the vehicle. Seatbelt pretensioners are fitted to all seats and a full array of airbags is standard. You also get an ACC Adaptive Cruise Control system that can maintain a set gap to the vehicle in front, a parking assist camera with front and rear sensors and a further camera on the front grille to help the driver see out of blind junctions. The specially developed infotainment system brings the various functions together on a five or seven inch screen mounted high on the dashboard.
Cost of Ownership
Volvo's 'Drive-E' technology means that fuel returns and CO2 emissions are well up to class standard. Expect around 70mpg on the combined cycle and around 113g/km of CO2, whether you opt for D3 or D4 diesel variants. Obviously, the more powerful 4WD D4 Geartronic diesel variant can't quite match that - and CO2 emissions fall to 149g/km.
Demand for the XC60 SUV has proved that buyers in this class like the rugged Volvo look, and the V60 Cross Country has a more cerebral appeal that ought to plump up residual values quite nicely.
There has to be a better way, something smarter than the legions of soft-roader SUVs. They're inefficient, lumbering and have become a bit of a cliche. Volvo reckons that the answer's been there all along. Its Cross Country brand has a long heritage, dating all the way back to 1997 when this Swedish brand was the first to take an ordinary estate (then the bigger V70 model) and give it extra all-road capability and chunky off road styling.
Nearly twenty years of experience since have culminated in this V60 Cross Country model, a superior example of its genre. It does come with a significant caveat though. Yes, you can buy one for just over £30,000 but it won't come with all-wheel drive, which some will feel rather defeats the point of this car. In order to get the proper all-wheel drive version, you're going to be stumping up closer to forty grand and that could well be the difference between this car being a success or a bit of a swing and a miss.