Believe it. The 2015 V60 T5 Drive-E heralds a new day for the once-staid company, known more for stolid, oh-so-safe vehicles than cutting-edge design and zippy drivetrains.
Eschewing the bricklike look of Volvo wagons of yore, the new V60 further develops and extends stylistic themes first brought to light in the XC60 compact sport-ute and the current S60 sedan. The result is a sexy, sporty and, dare it be said, beautiful design that tapers rather radically as it flows to the rear, where Volvo’s now-iconic tall tail lights frame the sides of the hatch.
It’s one of those designs that just looks fast even standing still. Fortunately, the V60’s base drivetrain cooperates.
The first of Volvo’s new approach to performance – and fuel economy – is the 2.0-liter, turbo twin-cam four cylinder that whips out a satisfying 240 horsepower and a healthy 258 pound-feet of torque. It’s an eager revver, and paired with the ultra-smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox, delivers plenty of pep. A “Sport” mode, along with shift paddles, adds an extra touch of responsiveness to the proceedings.
Quick it may be, but as an extra reward the willing drivetrain also delivers surprising economy – 25 mpg in town and 37 on the highway. And unlike most high-strung turbocharged motors, it sips regular grade gas.
With its optional Sport package (sport-tuned chassis, 19-inch alloys and performance tires, paddle shifters and sport bucket seats) our tester reveled in slicing into corners but also delivered a taut but well-damped highway ride. Potent brakes and accurate steering complete the performance bona fides.
The cabin is a paragon of restrained Nordic design, with outstanding front seats and cutting-edge, programmable instrumentation. And Volvo still installs the easiest-to-fasten seatbelts in the business, in keeping with its long-standing insistence on safety.
This new Volvo wagon is a real leap forward for the often-overlooked brand. A very attractive alternative in the compact premium segment, there’s scant competition for this sexy Swede.