Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 (2015) Review

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We drive the Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 - a raised-up, all-wheel drive and super practical family estate. How did it fare during our week-long evaluation?

Volvo certainly does have a reputation for producing some very good station wagons, with some even turning out to be quite iconic. No doubt the mighty 850R estate immediately springs to mind for those of you that watched British Touring Cars in the '90s. For those of you that haven’t, let’s just say Volvo essentially took a hearse racing and managed to make it win! The model under review here, however, is in no danger of finding itself on a racing circuit. Instead, it is more likely to traverse some gravel. In the spirit of another popular Volvo wagon, the XC70, Volvo's new V60 Cross Country puts a crossover spin on the V60 wagon. 

Raised how much?

Impressively, Volvo claims a ground clearance of 201mm for the V60 CC. That puts it well up there with some compact SUVs; it’s 30mm more than a Hyundai ix35 and only 9mm less than a Nissan X-Trail. The Cross Country is also 65mm higher of the ground than a standard V60. The visual accessories include front and rear skid plates, and side scuff plates for that rugged look.

Fitted with all-wheel drive

Volvo South Africa has chosen to bring in two derivatives of the V60 Cross Country, both of which are fitted with all-wheel drive. There’s a 2.0-Litre D4 turbodiesel model and the one we are testing here, a 2.5-Litre turbocharged five-cylinder petrol model. It’s a grunty unit under the bonnet, capable of 187 kW and 360 Nm of torque. The sound out the exhaust pipes is typical off-canter five-cylinder roughness, but the engine noise in front of you sounds more metallic and strained, especially higher up the revs. It does push on though, 0-100kph takes only 7.1 seconds and it gets on with overtaking when called upon. Mid-range torque is forceful and it has no problem making use of the six-speed automatic gearbox to keep the engine on the boil.

With the addition of all-wheel drive and a relatively old-school 2.5-Litre five-cylinder engine, the T5 Cross Country is a thirsty machine. Claimed figures sit at around 8.5L/100km, but we were returning more in the region of 11L/100km. Volvo has an entirely new range of four-cylinder engines that includes an impressive turbo petrol unit we tested in the XC90. It would certainly make more sense in here than this older unit does. Thankfully there is a good diesel model in the V60 Cross Country range if you’re worried about the consumption.

Step inside

Here’s a hot tip if you’re looking at a V60 Cross Country - don’t go anywhere near an XC90. Inside the V60 you’ll be met by older generation Volvo design, so there’s the difficult-to-use infotainment system, with loads of buttons in the centre console. It’s not that it’s badly styled or lacking in functionality, though. All you can ask for is available, from USB, Bluetooth, climate control, cruise control and a digital instrument cluster. It’s just that we have seen the future in the XC90 and that’s what we want from now on. We suppose we will have to wait for the new V60 before the trickle down effect occurs and all the cool new bits filter in from the XC90.

Don’t despair though, the V60 Cross Country is still comfortable and decently roomy. The seats are especially comfortable and the slightly raised seating position gives good visibility around the car. Rear legroom is a little on the tight side and the boot measured in at only 430-Litres - quite small for an estate, but it does have a spare wheel hogging loading space.

Enjoy the ride

Having a raised ride height hasn’t hurt the handling much. It takes a little longer to recover after bumps, but it feels comfortable and soft out on the country roads. In the city, its plush setup keeps occupants peaceful without there being significant body roll. Harsh bumps, holes and speed bumps will occasionally clatter into the cabin, but overall the V60 CC feels comfortably sprung.

When driving over dirt sections, the V60 Cross Country still feels like an estate road car rather than a crossover. There’s a long section of bonnet ahead of you and you sit a bit lower than in an SUV. Smooth dirt roads are dealt with capably, but washboard bumps give the suspension a hard time and there’s some dashboard shake if you tackle them too fast. The extra ground clearance does give you confidence to drive over those odd rocks lying in the centre of the road.

Verdict

The Volvo V60 Cross Country is a little bit of a strange car to understand. It’s got the sexy looks from the V60 with a decent helping of ground clearance. It’s then fitted with all-wheel drive for slippery conditions (snow, ice and mud) which is something we don’t get too much of here in SA. The all-wheel drive drains a bit more fuel than the standard front-wheel drive V60, and the practicality inside is identical. It also uses and older tech engine, which is a bit baffling. Overall the package is actually easy to live with and it ticks a whole bunch of boxes for a family looking for good value, premium practicality. It’s just difficult to see why you wouldn’t go for the better-engined V60 or the taller, more practical XC60 all at a similar price.

Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 pricing

As far as specification goes there is a Momentum base spec and a premium Inscription spec for both petrol and diesel models. The Diesels are fractionally cheaper starting at R499 900 for the D4 Momentum and R519 900 for the D4 Inscription. The T5 petrol starts at R533 500 for the T5 Momentum with the Inscription hitting R553 000.

Test team opinion

The Volvo V60 Cross Country is very fast on any surface, which is not what I was expecting at all. It's a good product, but as Ashley points out, similar vehicles can be had in the Volvo range and the Cross Country's addition to the Volvo lineup seems to dilute its offering. Still, it's a decent enough product, but be mindful of the prodigious thirst when you're pressing on. -David Taylor

We Like: Great design, good value and comfortable

We don’t Like: Thirsty engine, only AWD

Also consider: Subaru Outback, Mercedes-Benz GLA, BMW X1

Compare the Volvo V60 Cross Country with the Subaru Outback and Merc GLA here

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