Not since I spent many a Summer’s day in the back of my neighbour’s baby blue 244 DL commuting to and from the beach, have I looked forward to spending time in a Volvo estate car.
My love affair with the Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered is well documented, so the opportunity to get behind the wheel of another of Sweden’s automotive gems was very easy to say yes to.
This review is going to be different from many of my other reviews because there are very specific attributes to this (and most modern Volvo’s) that cannot be ignored. The first is styling.
From every angle, this is so not the Volvo that you imagine in your head. This is an estate car as beautiful as it is practical (more on that later).
Measuring 4.76m in length and 1.85m in width, the V60 T5 Inscription uses every available surface to give the driver and their occupants a very luxurious and comfortable ride on any journey.
The distinctive exterior styling runs from tip to toe on the V60. The LED headlights with Active Bending Lights curve from either side of the diagonal criss-cross grille to just ahead of the front wheels. Even the chrome surrounds of the fog-lights are perfectly proportioned.
The ground clearance at the front gives the V60 a wonderful road presence without making you feel intimidated on the road or freeways as you glide effortlessly past coaches and large semi-trailers.
Much like the exterior styling of the V60 T5 Inscription, the interior is another step above other European estate cars that easily attract a $10K – $15K price premium on this V60.
Beautifully crafted leather seats with almost infinite electric adjustment, multiple memory positions and ventilation in the front combined with a panoramic sunroof give great light and space. The tinted rear windows keep the heat and prying eyes away, and the Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system with its 15 speakers fill the cabin with your sounds – just the way you were supposed to hear them.
Like all Volvos throughout history, the V60 has just as much in terms of practicality to the thankful for as it does aesthetically pleasing styling elements.
Starting with the Keyless Entry and Start which is controlled via the twist of what feels like the bejewelled cap on a very expensive bottle of champagne – and who doesn’t want that feeling every time you go for a drive?
The multi-function head-up display with its array of selectable graphics goes well beyond helping the drive keep their attention where it should be. That leaves the other systems such as Pedestrian, Vehicle, Large Animal, and Cyclist Detection and the Blind Spot Detection and rear Cross Traffic Alert features to do their things.
The Volvo 360º camera system is I think the best fitted to any car in Australia right now. If you don’t believe me, try yours out on a rainy night and see how confident you are. The system fitted to the V60 is peerless.
Matched to the brilliant 9-inch portrait orientated touch-screen in the centre console, and your comfort and safety are always just a tap or two away. The same system runs Android Auto and Apple Car Play which puts all your most critical communication systems are available with a press of the Voice Control button on the chunky, leather-bound three-spoke steering wheel.
In the rear, the comfortable leather seats continue the beautiful design and feel for the younger and fury members of the family. The rear passengers also get their own multi-zone climate control as well as plenty of head and shoulder room. An additional power socket ensures devices are fully-charged and ready for those longer trips.
Further, into the back of the V60 T5 Inscription the addition of the Versatility Pack on the press car we evaluated saw Power-folding rear headrests and the grocery bag holder in the enormous luggage space – another outstanding feature from the pages of “…why hasn’t someone thought of that before?”. Lift the flap from the luggage compartment floor to stop your shopping sliding around.
The two-litre turbocharged engine in the V60 T5 Inscription is another wonderful feature of this car. Power delivery is smooth and quiet and the delivery of power from the 8 speed Geartronic transmission to all four wheels is very well balanced.
Around town, the transmission keeps the gear-changes to a minimum whilst achieving a very modest fuel economy number of 9L/100km. The ride is very comfortable with the 17-inch 5 spoke black Diamond Cut alloy wheels shod with Continental rubber.
The Park Pilot system in the Volvo is another feature where I think the Swedes have it over the rest of the automotive world. The system is very easy to use and when parking an estate car that’s only a school ruler short of 5m long, it’s a god-send.
The steering and braking both give extremely good feel and feedback from the road. Both systems are greatly enhanced by the Four-C active chassis air suspension which greatly reduces the NVH compared to normal suspension systems. We look forward to giving this a better run on country roads when COVID-19 restrictions ease.
The final point of note for the V60 T5 Inscription is the extremely well thought out electronic instrument binnacle. As we first experienced in the XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered version, this is a highly adaptable and customisable cluster that perfectly blends the needs of the driver in any condition.
We particularly like the mapping detail and the information display when using the Active Cruise Control systems.
As tested the V60 T5 Inscription is $74,040 plus on-road costs. Our test model was fitted with the optional Premium Pack and Versatility Pack.
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