Crossovers are all the rage these days, but Volvo has long since been in on the act – albeit with crossovers of a different type. Instead of acting as a halfway house between MPV and SUV, Volvo instead prefers to give its estate car models an off-road makeover. The one we’re driving here, the Volvo V60 Cross Country, is the midway point between V60 estate and XC60 SUV.
The changes are straightforward. The suspension is raised 65mm, the wheelarches get tough black plastic additions and chunky tyres can be driven by a 4WD system in the range-topping version. It’s an alternative to the similarly conceived Audi A4 Allroad, although the Volvo is cheaper (even if it is also significantly pricier than a regular V60 estate).
Volvo sensibly offers a choice of three diesel-only engines. The cheapest is the 148bhp D3, which is easygoing, if not as refined as a 2.0 TDI 150 Audi. It also only comes with front-wheel drive, which sort of defeats the point of an off-road-ready estate. The 187bhp D4 is also only front-wheel drive, although it is stronger and more effortless than the D3 for on-road use.
The only V60 Cross Country to have four-wheel drive is also called D4: this has a 2.4-litre five-cylinder engine, which sounds impressive, but is disappointing in action. It’s gruff, noisy and much less economical. Ride and handling are also rather average – it’s tidy in bends but not much fun, while the ride is OK but does get a bit irritable at speed.
Inside, it’s comfortable, with a set of Volvo’s famously fantastic seats up front. The dashboard is well built, but here, the V60 Cross Country is showing its age. The controls are old fashioned and the small infotainment screen is fiddly to use and suffers from ugly graphics. It’s nice enough, but the Audi A4 Allroad shows how dated it is.
Rivals are also much more practical. This is a big let-down for a car that’s selling itself on practicality. Rear seat space is cramped and the boot is unforgivably small – even a smaller Skoda Fabia Estate has 100 litres more room! The layout is clever, which is more in keeping with what you’d expect from a Volvo, but we just can’t overlook the lack of space compared to class rivals such as that Audi A4.
It’s better when you look at costs. The most efficient diesel engines emit just 111g/km, and even the automatic drops in at 120g/km. With prices that undercut the Audi A4 Allroad, this makes it a very competitive company car proposition, particularly as all models are extremely well equipped. Euro NCAP rates it highly for safety as well – again, as you’d expect from a Volvo.
But while it’s tough-looking and competitive on costs, the Volvo’s lack of space and dated interior really count against it. This is a car that’s feeling its age, something that heavy depreciation may confirm to your cost when you sell it further down the line. It doesn’t offer enough over a standard V60 estate to justify the steep price premium, which makes the Cross Country very hard to recommend.
Rob Adams is a writer for AutoCar.
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