Volvo has been on an upward climb lately, after being acquired by Chinese automaker Geely.
This has, unfortunately, led many not in the know to believe that the vehicles are now of lower quality and reflective of “Made in China” products. This could not be further from the truth – the Chinese parent company has allowed the Swedes considerable autonomy, and the result is products that surpass many German competitors in terms of luxury and quality. Volvo has also continued to produce the traditional estate wagon in two sizes, rather than discontinuing this body style in favour of the crossover.
This is the 2019 Volvo V60 T6 Inscription, and this model year marks the debut of the second-generation V60. The last model debuted in Canada for 2015, and was also based on the excellent S60. This latest V60 is based on Volvo’s SPA (Scalable Product Architecture), shared with the majority of Volvo’s current products. As such, while very good in most ways, there is little in the way of surprise for those who have sampled the S90, V90 (reviewed here), XC60 or XC90. We’ve made it no secret that SPA is one of our favourite platforms out there – the S90 won our Car of the Year award upon its debut.
The main area in which the V60 does exceed expectations is design. While maintaining the premium subtlety that Volvo is known for, this latest wagon is absolutely stunning. The S60 (reviewed here) it shares most moving parts with is equally beautiful, but the V60’s styling is contemporary and yet so elegant. Up-level models like our Inscription tester get the Thor’s Hammer LED headlights, and this model was also equipped with 19” five-spoke Diamond Cut alloy wheels. The lines of the V60 are so good that they even make the Birch Light Metallic (a fancy term for beige) paint compelling.
Hustling this wagon along is Volvo’s current “T6” setup, which utilizes forced induction by means of both a turbocharger and a supercharger. The block itself is a 2.0L inline four-cylinder that churns out 316 horsepower at 5,700RPM and 295 lb-ft. of torque between 2,200 and 5,400RPM. Response is perfect and the eight-speed automatic has no problems getting the V60 up to speed effortlessly. One downside is that the 2.0L does very obviously feel like a four-cylinder, and there is some distinct clatter from outside the car that’s disconcerting at this price tag.
The V60 T6 comes only with all-wheel-drive, while the T5 model (same 2.0L, but turbocharged only) can only be had in front-drive guise. This will likely be a huge oversight for Canadians, because the hypothetical T5 AWD in Momentum Plus trim would likely be the sweet spot. This was likely a business decision on Volvo’s part due to the low take rate for station wagons, and frankly, this vehicle in any trim is a car enthusiast’s practical dream.
Regardless, the V60 T6 Inscription handles like it’s on rails, something we really didn’t expect. The steering has excellent on-center feel and turns in quickly with sharp reflexes. This is one station wagon that can keep up with sports cars in the twisties, and pull off higher speed on-ramp merges than anticipated. Body roll is minimal from the tight suspension, and the side bolsters on the front seats will keep occupants in place. The steering does lighten up to a lifeless level at parking lot speeds, which can be a bit confusing at first. Once you’re used to it though, the dimensions make parking very easy.
The interior of the V60 is akin to the finest Scandinavian hotel. It’s minimalistic but incredibly premium and will continue to remind you that you’re in a luxury car. The seats are very comfortable, and all switchgear is nice to the touch and built well. The black leather interior in our test vehicle isn’t as stunning visually as the available Blond and Saddle colours, but is guaranteed to age and wear better. The seats are incredibly comfortable and are a benchmark in the segment. Our test vehicle was optioned with heated seats front and rear, and ventilated in front with lumbar support.
Adding to the premium feeling is the Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound System (Inscription model only). At $3,750, it’s not exactly cheap, but it’s one of the nicest automotive sound systems available on today’s market. This is a 15-speaker surround sound system with 1,100W of power, and can reproduce audio with impeccable quality. A mode that emulates the theatrics of the Gothenburg Concert Hall is particularly neat, and an actual manual equalizer built into the Sensus infotainment system is a nice addition. The V60 also features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
It’s the small touches that add to the feeling that your Volvo is always looking out for your safety. For instance, if you try to set off without putting your seatbelt on, the car will keep the electronic parking brake engaged until the seatbelt is engaged, and will refuse to budge. Volvo’s semi-autonomous Pilot Assist is also a game changer for traffic jams, and will reduce both stress and fatigue for those who endure lengthy rush-hour commutes regularly.
Fuel efficiency for the V60 T6 AWD is rated at 11.3L/100km city, 7.3L/100km highway, and 9.4L/100km combined. Our test week involved a significant amount of highway driving with some stop-and-go traffic, and the car returned an expected 8.5L/100km. The fuel economy read-out in the instrument cluster remains to be a challenge to navigate, but this is a small nitpick in an otherwise finely designed cabin. The V60’s fuel tank will accept 60L of 91-octane premium fuel.
Pricing starts at $55,400 for the V60 T6 Inscription, and includes things like the premium leather interior, panoramic sunroof and Sensus infotainment. Our car was equipped with a Climate Package (heated Aquablades, heated rear seats and steering wheel) for $1,250, and a Convenience Package (compass, Pilot Assist, active lane keeping, HomeLink) for $1,500. A Vision Package for $1,800 includes a blind spot information system, 360-degree surround view camera, and park assist. Standalone options include the Bowers & Wilkins stereo ($3,750), 19” wheels ($1,000), and a heads-up display ($1,150). This takes the sticker to a hefty $66,750.
Crossovers rule the North American automotive landscape today, and the station wagon continues to face an uphill battle. The 2019 Volvo V60 T6 Inscription is one of the best wagons on sale today, and with the T6 engine, has no competition. The Mercedes-Benz C 300 Wagon (reviewed here) is less powerful and also less expensive, and there’s no word on whether the upcoming 3-series will continue to offer this body style. If you’re in the market for a luxury station wagon today, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t opt for the Swede.