It’s fair to say Volvo is on an upward curve at the moment.
Not only are its new models winning safety awards but they’re garnering critical acclaim around the world as well.
It might not be on the same scale as Germany’s all-conquering big three but the once under-threat Swedish company is able to go toe-to-toe with them in several key categories for premium buyers.
Volvo V60 Cross Country
Price: £38,270 (£50,165 as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Top speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 7.6 seconds
CO2 emissions: 143g/km
And along with the regular versions of these, it makes Cross Country versions which occupy the middle ground between a standard estate and a full-blown SUV.
In the V60 Cross Country’s case such a move puts it up against the likes of the Audi A4 Allroad and VW Passat Alltrack as well as some more leftfield choices such as the Skoda Octavia Scout and Subaru Outback.
Like other Cross Country models, the V60 gets a suspension lift over the standard estate. It’s a relatively significant 6cm which means that although this isn’t a true off-roader it has a usable amount of extra ground clearance for tackling rougher terrain. It’s backed up by the permanent all-wheel-drive system to distribute power where it’s best used in low-grip situations.
Its more rugged stance is enhanced by the liberal application of black plastic cladding and some nice thick tyres rather than the low-profile rubber bands manufacturers favour these days.
The taller tyres add a bit of extra comfort themselves but the V60 Cross Country’s suspension and chassis setup have been altered from the regular car to enhance it further.
Big family estate cars don’t need a sporty feel and rock-hard suspension so this focus on softening things up makes for a pleasant, easygoing alternative to many modern models. The only downsides are a slight slackening of body control and some additional noise from the tyres.
The Cross Country only comes with Volvo’s higher output engines so buyers are limited to either a 247bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine or a 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel. Our test car came with the four-cylinder D4 diesel.
The D4 engine is a far better prospect than the D3 we’ve tested in other versions of both the V60 and XC40. With 187bhp its output is more suited to the car and sounds less strained. But Volvo’s diesels are pretty poor in comparison with other premium brands, sounding and feeling rougher than anything from Audi, BMW or Mercedes. It’s an issue that will cease to exist fairly soon as Volvo phases out diesel – the new S60 saloon doesn’t get the option of an oil-burner and the whole brand is moving towards petrol-electric hybrids and pure EVs.
Beyond the chassis and drivetrain, the Cross Country is largely the same as other V60s. That means a beautifully simple, stylish and comfortable interior, class-leading safety and, if you’re willing to pay extra for it (12 grand in this case), lots of the latest in-car technology.
The V60 was already one of the nicest estates on the market and the Cross Country adds an extra dimension to it. The changes that bring a little rough road ability and improved comfort do compromise the on-road behaviour and refinement a little but it’s still a worthy alternative for those who don’t fancy an SUV.