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Volvo V60 Cross Country | Balanced Act

BY Azfar Hashim

Volvo gives you a rugged wagon in the form of their new V60 Cross Country – should be able to match your Camel boots and loafers

Photos by Azfar Hashim

The premium compact crossover brigade is rather extensive here, with the three Germans all having one model each: Audi with the Q3, BMW’s new X1 and also Mercedes-Benz’s GLA. So depending on your budget - $204k for the Q3 2.0 TFSI, $192k for the X1 sDrive20i and $203k for the GLA250 4Matic (all with COE) – you could opt for either one and, on days you feel the urge, go look for some dirt road across the Causeway and have some fun.

But lets be honest here. How many people actually do plan to buy a compact crossover like the trio and plan to keep it long term? Because realistically speaking, changes in circumstances like (a) once the number of family members increases, (b) promotion at work or, (c) you just want something bigger, there will be the need to also get another car with more space. And due to those examples, the GLA250, Q3 and X1 are just something you’d have for, well perhaps, four years maximum.

But if you’re the sort who wants a crossover that you could at least drive around for a longer term, then let me sway your attention towards Volvo’s quietly launched V60 Cross Country.

Frankly speaking, it’s no German and we obviously knew that already; which also meant it doesn’t come with a German price tag. In fact, it’s pricier next to the BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz: $215k with COE, mind you. But before you get all turned off, Volvo somehow manages to justify that.

You could fit a fridge, washing machine and sink in there all at once. Yeap

You could fit a fridge, washing machine and sink in there all at once. Yeap

To begin with, it has the biggest wheelbase (2,774 mm); which also translates to the biggest boot space (557-litres/1,908-litres, GLA250: 481-litres/1,235-litres, X1: 505-litres/1,550-litres, Q3: 460-litres/1,325-litres). At the same time, the rear part of the cabin offers the most leg and shoulder room along with comfy, well-sculpted seats. Unfortunately though, it loses out to the German trio in terms of headroom – somewhat expected as the V60 Cross Country is more of a ‘wagon-on-stilts’ while the German trio’s designs are slanted towards an SUV.

Build quality is your typical Scandinavian affair, meaning everything is well put together with the buttons all clearly labeled; the control buttons should be able to withstand the test of time too. Personally speaking however, the steering wheel is still a tad on the large side.

Since we’re at the topic of steering, an innovation worth mentioning here is how you could choose your preferred steering weight while driving: Low, Medium or High. That said in this Volvo, you do not have the option to choose the engine/suspension’s setting (e.g ‘Sport’, ‘Normal’, ‘Dull’ or ‘Kill Me Now’ modes) unlike in the Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Other than that, equipment wise, the V60 Cross Country gets sunroof as standard, along with parking sensors, engine auto start/stop, steering mounted paddle-shifters and GPS, to name a few. USB and auxiliary input for your smartphones are also found here. Oh, and how could I forget - Volvo's City Safety comes with the car at no extra cost.

Powering the V60 Cross Country is Volvo’s new-generation ‘T5’ 4-cylinder, turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that’s paired to an 8-speed ‘Geartronic’ transmission. Power output is some 245 bhp and 350 Nm, ensuring it does the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in only 6.6 seconds; top speed is rated at 210 km/h.

Frankly speaking, it may be the fastest to reach 100 km/h from standstill but at initial move off, you could feel the 1,703 kg kerbweight making its presence felt. But once you go past its sweet spot - anywhere past 2,500 rpm - forward motion becomes brisk and actually profound enough to give hot-hatches a tough time as the gears (and speed, of course) shift upwards. Oh by the way I’m speaking based on swapping the gears via the paddle-shifters; it can come across as a tad too… hmm, how do I put this… leisurely when left to run on its own.

On the expressway, the car shows off its high level of refinement. Keeping engine speeds below 3,000 rpm and the audio’s volume at an acceptable level, you could barely hear the engine and wind noise in the cabin. If you have young children or grandparents, I reckon they would all fall asleep at the backseat…

Handling wise, there’s nothing spectacular or the sort of 911-beating excitement to expect out of the V60 Cross Country. Suffice to say it’s safe and assuring for a vehicle its size; well, you could still push it hard and fast into corners, but besides the squealing tyres and clearer body movements at every directional changes, the steering remains positive and the chassis would gladly keep things tight for this front-wheel driven pseudo SUV. Anchors are more than up to the task, like your typical Volvo.

So as I’ve mentioned earlier, the Volvo V60 Cross Country is the sort of car that you could actually buy and keep for the long(er) term. The cabin practicality ensures you do not panic when the number of family members increase, it’s comfy for expressway/long-haul trips, the high ground clearance means visiting relatives living off the beaten path across the border is not a problem and lastly, there’s firepower which doesn’t allow you to be left behind.

It’s the priciest when you put it next to the slightly trendier Germans, true, but it also is the most value-for-money.