Volvo isn’t new to the world of jacked-up estate cars. Its first, the V70 Cross Country, was launched in 1997, and while not every model since has been given the Cross Country treatment, those that have tend to find modest but appreciative audiences. There is little doubt that this new V60 Cross Country will do the same.
The V60 is, after all, one of the more handsome estate cars that Volvo – or indeed any manufacturer – offers. It’s also a design that really does lend itself to the Cross Country treatment, both aesthetically and dynamically. But what exactly is that treatment?
Well, compared with a standard V60, the upgrades include the addition of charcoal grey plastic cladding to protect the bodywork, while on the suspension front the ride height has been raised by 60mm and softer springs and dampers (bespoke to the Cross Country) fitted in order to promise a more fluid and relaxed driving experience. There’s also a permanent all-wheel-drive system, hill descent control and an off-road driving mode that instructs the standard-fit eight-speed automatic gearbox to hold on to ratios for longer.
Engines on offer include Volvo’s D4 four-cylinder diesel, and a forthcoming T5 2.0-litre turbo petrol. Our test car was the D4, which with 188bhp and 295lb ft of torque will get you from 0-62mph in a respectable 7.6 seconds, and return 55.4mpg in official tests. It also works perfectly with that automatic gearbox, offering effortless mid-range pull, smooth gear changes and little in the way of diesel rattle once warmed through. For wafting from A to B, it does just about all you could wish for. The two-tonne braked towing capacity is on the money, too.
TAKING IT SMOOTHLY
The relaxed demeanour is carried through to the way the V60 Cross Country covers ground in general, with the raised ride height and extra suspension travel being perfectly suited to Britain’s often crumbling road network. As an antidote to the sometimes harsh and noisy ride that results from the motor industry’s obsession with lowered sports suspension and rubber band-like low profile tyres there’s little to beat it.
On the downside you might note the steering is lifeless, but the same can be said of the standard V60, and at least body control isn’t hugely affected by the extra ride height. As for off-road performance, the first thing to say is that cars such as the V60 Cross Country are not designed to tackle truly mountainous terrain; they simply don’t have the ride height or sufficiently short overhangs required for such work. But for something that can cope with muddy fields, rutted lanes or snowy commutes it should be all that’s needed.
To prove as much Volvo sent a convoy of us on a 14-mile trek through fields and muddy lanes, which the cars mostly took in their stride. Mostly, that is, apart from at one particularly deep and boggy section in which the lead V60 beached itself. With the four-wheel-drive system unable to do anything other than spin the wheels enough to dig a deeper rut, it was left to a Land Rover to tow the car free, which kind of says all you need to know about where the Cross Country sits in the off-road hierarchy.
Potential owners who plan to use the car for such work might therefore consider fitting a set of mud and snow tyres in place of the standard summer rubber, or perhaps at least tempering their enthusiasm when it comes to negotiating muddy bogs.
A SPA ON WHEELS
As for the car’s practical credentials, while not as cavernous as Volvo estates of old, nor is the V60 Cross Country small inside. The boot, for example, offers a respectable 529 litres, which is the same as for front-wheel-drive V60s, as well as the ability to fold the rear seats flat to extend the load bay. And there’s plenty of room for passengers; at 5ft 11 I had legroom to spare when sitting in the back, and even with the panoramic sunroof installed headroom is good.
What you might lose in space compared with the roomiest estates, you get back in style and sophistication, because the V60’s interior really is a treat. From the design of the dashboard with its digital dials and striking 9-inch portrait-mounted touchscreen, to the immaculate finish of the various surfaces, the Cross Country provides a wonderful environment in which to travel.
Being a Volvo, the V60 is also among the safest cars on sale today, particularly when fitted with the company’s optional Pilot Assist technology, which can help to steer the car within its lane and hold a set distance to the vehicle in front.
With Volvo now firmly established as a premium car-maker, the V60 Cross Country is not cheap to buy (prices start from £38,270). But goodness is it desirable, not to mention suitably different in its approach to stand out from the BMWs and Audis of this world. If you’re after a car that is stylish, practical and as comfortable as curling up on the sofa with your favourite book, this might well be it. Just be sure to steer clear of those bogs.
Price: Volvo V60 Cross Country from £38,270. As tested £50,165
0-62mph: 7.6 seconds
Top speed: 130mph
Fuel economy: 55.4mpg (WLTP Combined).
THREE MORE CROSS COUNTRY CONTENDERS
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
If you’re after a V60 Cross Country alternative with more space and a lower price point then the Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer is well worth a look. In fact, being handsome, good to drive and packed with equipment, it is arguably one of the most underrated cars around.
Search for a used Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer on CarGurus
Skoda Octavia Scout
The Audi A4 Allroad might be the most obvious contender when it comes to choosing a jacked-up estate car from the VW Group, but for those seeking a cut-price alternative there is much to like about Skoda’s Octavia Scout. Frugal, roomy and with a comfortable ride, it is a car to appeal to the head, if perhaps not the heart.
Search for a used Skoda Octavia Scout on CarGurus
Subaru’s formula of combining symmetrical four-wheel drive with flat-four ‘boxer’ engines that help to give a low centre of gravity results in vehicles that are very capable in adverse conditions. And while they might not be the cheapest cars to run, a fine reliability record ensures that models such as the Outback make for great used buyers.
Search for a used Subaru Outback on CarGurus
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